For the October 2020 edition of the Indie Business™ Book Club, we read Supermaker by Jaime Schmidt. This book tells the story of how Jaime, a former Indie Business member, led her business from her kitchen to a 9-figure acquisition by Unilever in 2017. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I highly recommend it for all of the reasons below.
If you're not familiar with the Indie Business Book Club, you can click here for more information.
In 2010, Jaime started making deodorant in her Portland, Oregon, kitchen. At the time, she was fairly newly divorced bu in a new and satisfying personal relationship, had a job that didn't suit her, and was eight months pregnant. From these unsettled beginnings would grow a new product line that would disrupt an entire industry and birth a new female entrepreneur who would eventually inspire millions of entrepreneurs around the world — and keep us from being stinky in the process.
From farmer's markets to local retail, to Amazon to worldwide store shelves, the story is told by Jaime herself in sequence of how it happened. Not only does the book tell Jaime's story, but it is also filled with her personal reflections — both joy and difficulty. This makes the book real and authentic. The journey was not all roses and sunshine, and the author is honest about this.
Another thing I like about the book is that it sheds some light on the nuclear reactor that has clearly taken up residence in Jaime Schmidt's body. Honestly, sometimes, I was exhausted just reading all the things she had to do every day, especially during the years of extreme and unrelenting brand growth when products had to be made, for example, even though the newly delivered mixing machine did not work. Jaime always found a way. As an entrepreneur, when you read about that, it somehow gives you what you need the next time you are faced with having to scale an impossibly high mountain.
Highlights from Supermaker
Here are a few highlights that really set this book apart from most business books.
Highlight No. 1: You don' t need a business plan …
It's not that Jaime advocates that you wing it, or haul a bunch of spaghetti at the wall and hope some of it sticks. It's more like she recommends tackling what is in front of you, and allowing your plan to unfold as you move forward. I call this a kind of “evening bag” approach to business planning, where you carry around what you need in your little purse, but you have a backup bag in the trunk of the car at the ready when you need to shift to another strategy.
Highlight No. 2: From making to manufacturing …
On some level, the idea of making and manufacturing are the same. If you are manufacturing something, you are also making it. On other other hand, just because you are making something does not mean you are also manufacturing it.
If you are manufacturing something, even if there is manual labor involved, the notion of quantity is heightened, as is the level of investment in systems that produce the same precise product every single time. When you are making something, variations in the finished product are expected. When you are manufacturing it, not so much.
One is not better than the other. But in light of the critical differences between them, it is important that you know whether you are making or manufacturing.
Highlight No. 3: Fight to remain unstuck …
This chapter is all about making sure you don't linger around or long for your past, or be held back by it. It made me think of Michael Jordan, who retired from basketball only to return to sports as a semi-professional baseball player. It did not go well, but he was all in anyway. He refused to be defined by one thing, even if that thing was totally amazing.
The narrower your vision, the more likely you are to become stuck.
The struggle here is real. The temptation to relax when you are comfortable can lead to complacence, and complacence can eventually lead to a feeling of being stuck. So often, we blame this feeling on external circumstances, like a job loss or a bad marriage, when the real cause can be traced back to how we have handled our lives.
I see Jaime's message, lived out live for us to see, as similar. While she is still a part of Schmidt's, it's on her terms, which allows her to evolve to the next stage of her life as an investor, author, and so forth.
Even in the midst of criticism from people accusing her of “selling out,” she has expanded her purpose and found her voice in new ways, toward greater impact.
Who should read Supermaker?
If you love personal success stories, Supermaker is a perfect read. Jaime goes into enough detail to keep you turning pages to find out what happens next. More importantly, you get an inside view of her mindset and her focus-on-what's-in-front-of-you approach worked so well. It's comforting to know that small steps taken in a logical order can produce so much awesome.
Feedback and Share
Did you read along with us? What do you think of this book? How do you think you might lead your business differently based on Jaime's story and the experiences she shared? Did the book result in any mindset shifts for you? Please share your comments and feedback below.
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