Whether you’re a fan or critic of Martha Stewart, there’s no denying that she’s built an empire from nothing. Raised in a household that included chores like canning and housekeeping, she’s parlayed that domestic knowledge into a lifelong career. Her startup catering business evolved into writing books and creating a TV show, eventually morphing into her long-term dream of creating a multichannel media and marketing firm. Even at the age of 79, she continues to innovate with a new gardening show on HGTV.
We could all learn something from Martha Stewart’s business wisdom:
You Are an Investment
“Once you realize that you have identified a passion, invest in yourself. Figure out what you need to know, what kind of experience and expertise you need to develop to do the things that you feel in your heart you will enjoy and that will sustain you both mentally and economically.” —Martha Stewart
There is a lot of wisdom in this quote—a blend of “follow your dreams” and “have a plan.” You’ll need real passion to weather the ups and downs of running a small business. Completing a SWOT analysis as part of your business plan enables you to take steps to capitalize on your strengths and backfill your weaknesses. Using this knowledge, invest in yourself through training classes, networking, and hiring the right team.
Find Your People
“Seek out people to work with who are brimming with talent, energy, integrity, optimism, and generosity.” —Martha Stewart
You can’t do it alone—you need a team. That team might include business partners, employees, mentors, or professionals like an accountant or lawyer.
Fill your circle with people who believe in your business idea and want to help you succeed. Follow other business leaders to keep your own idea bank filled to the top.
Keep Moving Forward
“So the pie isn’t perfect? Cut it into wedges. Stay in control, and never panic.”
Striving for perfection—that elusive spot that’s always just around the next bend—can prevent you from starting a business or launching a new product. Accept your imperfect, incomplete product and launch it, so that you can start to collect feedback on how to improve it. What you think needs improvement may not be the same area that your customer cares about.
Consider booming businesses that make money from imperfection. Ugly fruit? There’s a buyer for that. Potato chips darker than the quality control parameters allow? Slap a “dark chips” label on the bag and see if you discover a new target market for your imperfect rejects.
Cultivate a toolbox of skills that you can call upon to squash panic. Embracing creativity and honing your problem-solving skills only happens when you accept failures and imperfection.
Don’t Be a Stick-in-the-Mud
“The more you adapt, the more interesting you are.”
Everyone knows that 1 person who always responds to “what’s new?” with a variation of “nothing”—or a litany of complaints, like “no one is buying my product”.
Secretly, everyone hopes to be the opposite of that person. To become the person bubbling over with ideas that inspire and energize others, embrace change. Martha’s dream of a multimedia channel and marketing firm would never have happened if she’d stuck to a catering-only business. Similarly, businesses that have adapted during the coronavirus pandemic have discovered opportunities that didn’t exist before 2020.
Change Is Inevitable
“Without an open mind, you can never be a great success.” —Martha Stewart
Imagine asking a child 50 years ago what they wanted to be when they grew up. Their answers would have been limited to a few occupations—a doctor, a train engineer, a teacher. Ask the same question today, and the answer ought to be, “I don’t know. That profession doesn’t exist yet.”
Small business owners need the same outlook. The market segment that you’ll lead in 5 years from now may not exist today. The film industry, for example, couldn’t have predicted even 3 years ago that they’d be marketing their made-for-theater films to a stay-at-home audience.
Similarly, savvy business owners monitor technology changes for digital tools to use to their advantage. Online software, like bookkeeping software, allows a business to streamline their backend processes while social media opens up new marketing channels.
Have a Transition Plan
“It is a good thing until you discover a better thing.” —Martha Stewart
Nothing lasts forever. There will come a time when you’re ready to move on—perhaps to start a new business or to retire. If you’re running a family business, have a transition or succession plan in place before you need it. This way, the business can continue to thrive as you move onto your “better thing.”
There’s no denying that Martha Stewart has achieved her dream of becoming a household name through dedication and hard work. Chase your business dreams with the same enthusiasm and focus—you might just make your name synonymous with success.