Whatever your dreams, goals, and aspirations may be, we all want to succeed. When you’re starting out it’s necessary to be practical. Concentrate on the first steps and celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small. But don’t stop there! Anything is possible. Especially with the internet, which gives independent companies and small startups a way to reach the entire world. No matter where you are in your career or how far you have to go, never stop reaching for the stars. With hard work and perseverance you can be the next big thing. Don’t believe me? Here are three women who took a simple idea and turned it into an inspirational success story.
Image from The New York Times
How do you create something from nothing? It’s one thing if you have start-up capital, contacts, and resources, but how do you start a business with nothing more than good taste and self confidence? The best example is Sophia Amoruso, owner and CEO of Nasty Gal. She knew what she wanted, looked at what was available, and made use of every opportunity.
Back in 2007, Sophia began scouring thrift stores and estate sales for vintage items, which she then sold on eBay. She styled, photographed, captioned and shipped each item herself. With no marketing budget, she made use of social media platforms like Myspace and gained a large following online. The results were fantastic; she could buy items for $10 and sell them for $1000. A year later, she started her own website, hired her first employee off Craigslist, and added original merchandise.
Today, Nasty Girl has over 100 employees and makes over $100 million in revenue. Sophia still uses Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter, often updating five times a day. Her staff posts blogs about travel and makeup tips, and they just started a biannual magazine, Super Nasty. In six short years, she built one of the most successful and popular fashion retailers on the internet. If she can do it, so can you!
Image from Refinery29
Not all success stories begin with a heroine having a plan. You must be willing to try new things and brave enough to make the leap, just like Susan Gregg-Koger, owner and co-founder of Modcloth.
In 2002, Susan was studying business at Carnegie Mellon with her boyfriend (now husband) Eric Koger. Eric was into websites, Susan was into vintage clothing, and her overflowing closet was quickly taking over her tiny dorm room. Together they had an idea to resell some of her belongings online to help pay for books and expenses. Encouraged by early success, they started buying vintage inspired originals at trade shows so they could offer a variety of sizes. After graduating, the couple decided to stick with what they were doing and give it their all.
As of now, they employ over 400 people and make over $100 million in revenue – but they’re not done yet! Susan noticed the market for plus size fashions was sadly neglected, so she started her own label, Make the Cut. The first designs were submitted by fans in an open-to-all contest, and voted by fans via Facebook. Susan doesn’t just listen to what the people want, she gets them involved in new and original ways. The lesson here is to go with the flow, even if you have a plan. If a side project starts to do well, make it your main project. Listen to what the people need and the people will be on your side.
Sometimes a hobby you never expected to turn into a business can launch your career. Like what happened to a California Mass Communication student, Elizabeth Bennet. In 2012, she started a YouTube video diary for her senior thesis project. Like most YouTube vloggers, Lizzie’s first entries were about everyday things. Videos featured friends, family, and views about love and life. Then, with clever social networking, she built an audience. The consistency of her broadcasting and the online interaction with fans encouraged her audience to be personally invested. Word spread quickly, and before long she had over 200,000 subscriptions, forty million views, and 40,000 followers on Twitter.
Most successful vloggers continue vlogging for years, but not Lizzie Bennet. Through her class assignment, she was inspired to write a business plan for her own company. She mentioned the project on her videos and was soon contacted by interested investors. One year after her first video, and mere weeks before her graduation, she choose to turn down job offers from existing companies in favor of starting her own.
Even if you find success on one level, you shouldn’t stop growing and trying to do more with your own life. Fans might miss Lizzie’s videos, but because of the choices she made, her future is wide open with possibilities. I’m sure whatever she does will be amazing!
Never underestimate yourself and what you can accomplish. A life lived to its fullest potential is a life that is Emma Approved.