1-Sentence-Summary: #GIRLBOSS shows that even an unconventional life can lead to success when you discover your passions and improve your skills in unusual and unpredictable ways.
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After switching from an odd job to another, Sophia Amoruso managed to build a multi-million dollar business before she was 30. Did she go to an expensive college? Did she attend marketing and business courses? Definitely not!
As a teenager, her teachers thought there was something wrong with her. Amoruso was diagnosed with depression and Attention-Deficit Disorder, or ADD. She hated high school and finally managed to drop out for homeschooling.
At 17 she began living with friends, renting closets under the stairs for $60 a month. Taking mediocre jobs to pay the bills, she often ended up either being fired or quitting after becoming bored.
Here are 3 lessons we can learn from her unconventional road to prosperity:
- Even opportunities that seem off your chosen path can teach you about yourself, enhance your skills, and open new and better doors for you.
- Once you have started doing what you like, know your business inside and out and stay focused on it, ignoring what other people think of you.
- If you want your company to flourish, create a community and work with like-minded people in an environment that suits you.
Let’s find out what’s important to know when you run a startup!
Lesson 1: The way to greatness is not always straight – odd jobs and unconventional experiences can be part of your way to success.
Going to university, getting good grades, and having the support of others can make it easier to start your own business. But through unique adventures, you can learn a lot about yourself, your passions, and your strengths.
Until age 22, Sophia Amoruso was an anarchist and freegan, living mostly without money. She used to hitchhike up and down the West Coast and get food by “dumpster diving and petty thievery,” only working when she really needed to.
Then, she was diagnosed with a hernia and started looking for an easy job to get health insurance. She found the perfect one to fit her lifestyle: checking IDs in the lobby of a high school.
She had so much time to kill that she decided to start her Nasty Gal Vintage shop on eBay. Working on the shop for up to twelve hours without watching the clock once, she quickly grew the business and her following. What began as a hobby would be the start of a multi-million dollar business.
Sometimes, the strangest situations might get you closer to doing what you like and are talented at, even when you feel you are wasting your time. You don’t know until you are ahead enough to see the bigger picture.
Lesson 2: Know your business and focus on products and customers.
When you’ve found what you love to do, what happens next? Get to know your business inside and out and stay focused on it.
First, she combed charity shops and thrift stores for clothing to sell. Amoruso was an expert in vintage clothes and where to find the best deals. Having been broke most of her life, she was also great at negotiating discounts.
Amoruso chose beautiful but real-looking girls as models, styled them by combining the cheap thrift clothes in trendy ways, and took the pictures herself. She once invested in a photography course and knew that she had a good eye.
After selling an item quickly, she immediately looked for similar pieces. If her customers didn’t show appreciation for something, Amoruso tried marketing it with different images, texts, and fonts. If that didn’t go well, she stopped selling the clothing.
It’s essential to stay focused on what makes the most difference for your business. You shouldn’t lose energy and time caring about what people think of you. Even if someone does something awful to you, continue to dedicate yourself to your products and clients, instead of planning revenge.
Lesson 3: To grow your company, you need to work for your customers and with like-minded people.
When starting her online shop, Sophia wanted to differentiate it from other vintage eBay stores that used romantic names, bad pictures, and poor marketing. Amoruso provided an immersive fashion experience and an inimitable, quirky style. Additionally, she put in the effort to understand her customers’ tastes.
That’s how she built a brand and a community. Her people identified with Nasty Gal and Amoruso sympathized with them. Through word-of-mouth, the following grew. And when she abandoned eBay to open her own e-commerce site, it followed her.
To grow your business, you need to understand your customers, create a community, and also choose to connect with the right people.
From her previous jobs, Sophia felt she wasn’t a people person. She was happy to function alone and meet customers only from behind a screen. Success forced her to hire employees and find investors, and taught her the value of teaming up with hard-working and like-minded people.
One year the Nasty Gal’s warehouse chief quit just before Black Friday. It could have been a disaster, but wasn’t. Thanks to some employees who went above and beyond, packing boxes and fulfilling orders to be sure that everything ran smoothly, the most anticipated sales day of the year was fruitful.
As kids, we learn that to prosper, we need to get good grades, go to college, and find a 9-5 job. #GIRLBOSS is inspiring for both those who stuck to those rules and those who didn’t. Whatever your choices, remember that you can learn from any experience and support yourself with your passions.
Who would I recommend the #GIRLBOSS summary to?
The 29-year-old who doesn’t like his job and feels lazy, the 20-year-old student who thinks the most crucial step to happiness is to finish university as soon as she can, and anyone who is feeling bad because they do odd jobs to pay the bills.