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Burt’s Bees. Hansen’s Natural. Smucker’s. They all started as just an idea and now they are household names. Business ideas are easy to come by, launching that business into a full-fledged company is an accomplishment.
However, it’s not an accomplishment that most people can tackle on their own—even when you’re a powerhouse actress/supermom.
Actress and entrepreneur Jessica Alba is known for her roles in movies like Sin City, Fantastic Four and Good Luck Chuck. She’s won awards for her acting and has been called a sex symbol. From a young age she knew she wanted to be an actress, and by age 12 she was on her way to becoming a superstar. What she didn’t count on was becoming a powerful businesswoman. That happened in a roundabout fashion after becoming a mom.
Jessica Alba founded The Honest Company in 2011, but she is clear that she didn’t build it on her own. To take her idea from concept to reality she needed to find people with the talents that she didn’t have.
You have to outsource
With all of her success, it’s hard to imagine something Jessica Alba can’t do, but as any savvy business woman knows we all have those areas in which we excel, and others … just not so much. When starting her billon-dollar business The Honest Company, actress Jessica Alba, knew she couldn’t do it all.
“You have to be brutally honest with yourself and understand your strengths and weaknesses. I’m not a business person–I’m a mom. I wasn’t going to be designing websites. I wasn’t going to be in the lab mixing potion,” she said.
What she had was passion and an unwavering belief in an idea. Her idea was that everything that touches you and your family needs to be nontoxic, effective, affordable and of course, beautiful to look at. She wanted to take that concept and build a lifestyle brand around a monthly subscription program of cleaning and personal care products.
Believe in yourself
“Everyone I approached was skeptical. There wasn’t one person who said, ‘Yeah, that can happen.”
Jessica Alba said that most of the people in Hollywood that she originally talked to couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea. At that point Alba could’ve simply shrugged off her idea, labeled it “I tried,” and tucked it away, but instead she didn’t let discouragement creep in.
Eventually she found the right partners—partners who believed in her dream and had the talent that complemented hers. And with her team in place she approached investors.
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Watching the success of other entrepreneurs can be inspiring. It can also be a little disheartening when you see a company become a success almost form the start. The truth is success never comes overnight. Finding the right people to help make The Honest Company a reality was tough but Jessica Alba was persistent. It took Alba three years to find her business partners. But finding investors would’ve been even harder if she hadn’t put in the work to find the right partners.
If I went in there and said, ‘Hey, I’m going to put together this business from scratch all by myself,’ I’m sure it would have been a lot more difficult to get VCs to take me seriously, but once you have the right partners, it isn’t,” she said.
Her evolution from actress to mompreneur helped Jessica Alba gain valuable skills along the way. Here are a few tips for other mompreneurs looking to build their entrepreneurial ventures:
Refine your idea
Originally, Jessica Alba’s business pitch had too much going on. She said she once pitched a 50-page deck! Alba and her team brought in friends who were not investing in the company and pitched them. Having an outside perspective gave Alba and her team insight into questions potential customers—and investors—might have. It also allowed them to refine the idea. It helped the team narrow the pitch to a more manageable 30-minute presentation.
Related Article: Mompreneurs should let it go: Outsource to save time
Many entrepreneurs fall into the trap of micromanaging, but Jessica Alba said it’s better to outsource some of that work. For her, the marketing aspect, the design aspects and the overall brand vision are where her talent and passion rest. She knew her business needed input from others experienced in the areas she wasn’t, in order to thrive. “You never want to be the smartest person in the room,” she said.
All good things take time. Alba was sure she wanted to put out the most quality products and that she wanted to live up to the company name. That meant making an honest effort to develop products customers could trust. “Finding the right manufacturer, making an original product, testing it … that was all challenging, but people can feel safe using our product. And they want it. People asked us for it,” she said.
Don’t spend big on marketing and advertising
Every entrepreneur dreams of seeing their brand in magazines, on television commercials—maybe even on Times Square. However, Jessica Alba advised to let your reputation do the talking rather than your advertising budget. “We’re still quite scrappy, and we’re tight with money. If a product works customers will recommend it for you @honest @jessicaalba” quote=” If a product works customers will recommend it for you, she said.