UGG’s founder, Brian Smith, was an accountant who emigrated from Australia in the late 1970s with an awesome idea of selling sheepskin boots to the masses. He did his market research, got really excited, raised tons of money, imported hundreds of pairs of boots… and sold only 28 pairs in his entire first year of business.
But, he just kept selling, and selling, and selling.
This story is wonderfully motivating now that the market is slower and we’re all back in sales mode. Mr. Smith was on a very short Business and Burger Podcast (#21) recently, and we highly recommend listening to it. Mr. Smith went through hell time and again, but just never gave up.
A few other lessons he imparts:
1. Learn from and let go of failures. This is almost cliché now but a great reminder, as too many of us get permanently scarred by our screw-ups, and are afraid to try new things.
2. Be authentic. He originally used beautiful models to advertise his boots, but that turned off his initial target market: surfers. When he started using surfers to model – sales took off.
3. Strong relationships save you. Another cliché, but he would have folded but for the loyalty of retailers who had become close friends.
4. No such thing as overnight success! UGG was started in the 1970s, but many people think they sprung up in the 2000s. Most people don’t realize how long most “overnight successes” actually take.
Another motivating Podcast was the last “How I Built This.“ The Chesapeake Bay Candle founder called Target’s Buyer over 50 times before she finally got into the stores. That is tenacity.
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