Being in the fashion industry (if you consider beards fashion), I’ve developed quite an affinity for John Paul Dejoria and Ralph Lauren. Their rags-to-riches stories are a source of inspiration for sure.
Picture Ralph Lifshitz selling ties from the trunk of his car, and building that into a multi-billion fashion empire, with the greatest car collection of all time as the cherry on top. Or take John Paul, fired from his job at Redkin and living in the back of a 20-year old car (albeit a Rolls!). He started John Paul Mitchell Systems with Paul Mitchell and a $700.00 loan.
And there’s my business partner, Jeff Bezos. I say business partner because my beard care product line is sold on Amazon. Jeff left a well-paying hedge fund job to start Amazon in his garage.
Most of us aspiring Entrepreneurs have heard these stories many times. So what’s the lesson?
BE PREPARED FOR A LOT OF REJECTION
John Paul sold encyclopedias door-to-door in his 20’s. And a lot, I mean a lot, of doors where literally slammed in his face. His advice? “If you knock on 50 doors, you need to be just as enthusiastic on door number 51.”
Jeff’s early days also provide a lesson in rejection. He says when he first raised money for Amazon, it was to the tune of $1 million from 20 different investors. For $50,000 each, they got 20% of the company (let that sink in). However, 40 people told him No. He had to give his pitch 60 times to get those initial 20 investors.