Lessons for entrepreneurs from Tory Burch
There is so much we can learn from Tory Burch. In less than 10 years, Burch has grown her company from a staff of fewer than 20 working from her kitchen table to 3,000 employees. Her company, with revenues exceeding $800 million, is expected to go public any day now. According to Business Insider, she is outpacing competitors like Michael Kors and Coach even though she started many years after them.
Joanna Coles, a editor at Cosmopolitan, said, “People love her. They want to be her. And she’s really nice. Tory is not a monstrous, crazy fashion b*tch. She is an incredibly liked, well-respected woman.”
We know (and hope!) she will write a book one day with all her entrepreneurial secrets, but until then we are lucky she recently gave an awesome commencement speech at Babson College (its undergraduate and graduate programs are ranked #1 in entrepreneurship) earlier this month.
Here are some of the best tips we can take from her speech:
Don’t believe it when it sounds like someone became successful overnight
She talked about when she heard herself described as an “overnight success” after opening her first store in 2004. “I guess that made sense—if you didn’t count the 20,000 hours we put into building the business up to that day, or the combined half a million hours we all spent learning the industry in the years before that,” she said.
She continued, “We may live in an age of instant messaging, instant gratification, and Instagram, but there is no way to short circuit the path to success. It takes hard work, tenacity and patience.
There are many things you can do overnight. You can write a decent paper. You can put the finishing touches on a runway show. I hear you can even have a pretty good time at Roger’s Pub. But there is no such thing as an overnight success.”
Do look to solve a problem
She really came up with the idea for her company when she saw a problem.
“It all started when I noticed a void in my own closet for beautifully designed, classic pieces that didn’t cost a fortune. It wasn’t just a void in my closet; it turned out to be a white space in the market. I started working out of my apartment with a small team that could help me turn my concept into a reality.”
Do feed your passion
When Burch started her company she was very clear that she wanted to also start a foundation that would help other female entrepreneurs. She said, “Social responsibility was always part of the business plan. This was not always viewed as a positive—some people told me never to mention the word social responsibility and business in the same sentence. That only made me more determined.”
“I knew our foundation would benefit women and children. We had learned so much from our experiences starting a business that we thought we could help other women who wanted to do the same.” She continued. “In 2009 we launched our foundation to support the economic empowerment of women entrepreneurs and their families. It has been incredibly meaningful not only to me personally, but to our customer, our employees and our business partners, all of whom care about giving back and helping women.”
Block out the negativity
If you start to listen to the naysayers, you will never move forward. She said, “One of the best pieces of advice I ever received from my parents is to think of negativity as noise. Believe in yourself and what you’re doing. Remember: if the most unique ideas were obvious to everyone, there wouldn’t be entrepreneurs. The one thing that every entrepreneurial journey has in common is that there are many, many steps on the road to success.”