fetaured

Want to start a business? Bobbi Brown shares her tips

Feb. 28, 2013 at 5:21 PM ET

Courtesy Bobbi brown /
Bobbi Brown is the founder and CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics.

Bobbi Brown turned her passion for natural makeup into a successful business, launching her now-famous line in 1991. Here, she writes about her key tips for how anyone can do the same with a smart idea. 

I’m often asked what advice I would give to someone looking to start their own business. I started my company with ten brown-based lipstick shades created to fill a void in the market for simple, flattering and wearable makeup. To start your own business, you need an idea, followed by tons of passion and enormous amounts of hard work. You need to trust your gut – you have to be hard-headed and have selective hearing in regards to the negativity that come from other people. This is not something you'll learn in school.

Make a decision by feeling, not by thinking. I do almost everything by feeling – from hiring a baby-sitter to developing products.  For me, it’s never about what market research shows. If you have something that you believe in, it doesn’t matter what other people think. Get it to market – it’s really important to be first to market – and figure out a way to tell people about it. I was lucky because I was first in my niche. I wasn’t the first cosmetics company, but I was definitely the first with natural colors designed by a makeup artist.

Be true to your vision and do things with integrity. My philosophy has been and still is the same as the day I first went into business – not to change what a woman looks like, but to make her look like herself, only better. I believe in telling a woman what’s right with her, rather than what’s wrong with her.  And I also believe 100 percent in the products that I create.  From start to finish, every product has to reflect my ethics and aesthetic.

Along the way, I’ve learned a few things that have really made a difference in the path that I’ve taken: 

  • Follow your dreams and passions. Have a vision of where you want to see yourself and figure out a course to take you there. 
  • Don’t take no for an answer. If one door closes, look for a back door or a side door. 
  • Have long term goals – and mini goals.  Don’t get overwhelmed – it won’t happen overnight.  Always have a plan and re-evaluate it regularly. 
  • Work on your craft, network, and always be nice. Hard work and niceness come back to you.
  • Do things with integrity and always look people in the eye when you talk to them.
  • Hire people who are great at what they do and let them do it.  Don’t micromanage.  It’s important to learn how to delegate.
  • Listen to your heart – not always to your head. Instinct always leads us in the right direction.
  • Prioritize and balance between the details and the big picture.  Take moments to step back to clear and refocus your perspective. 
  • Take care of your personal well being – exercise, don’t smoke and drink lots of water.
  • And finally, remember this: life is not a dress rehearsal, so do it 100 percent.
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