10 business lessons from Coco Chanel

In 1999 Time magazine listed the fashion innovator Coco Chanel as one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century. A beacon for most modern day women entrepreneurs, she self-authored her stellar rise from seamstress to the owner of a multi-billion dollar business. What was the secret of her success and how does it show in the incredible success stories of other woman entrepreneurs of today, women like Arianna Huffington, Oprah Winfrey, Rosalia Mera and Sheryl Sandberg?

For one thing, these women, like Coco Chanel, are fearless and refuse to believe that business is only a “man’s world.” More importantly, they realize the value of their innovative ideas and creative power. Successful women entrepreneurs tend to be incredibly conscious of modern trends; they keep tabs on what society is up to, whether it be in their local neighborhood, or on the World Wide Web, and they are using their intellect and voice to make advances in all sectors of the job market. These women are not just riding the wave of the future, but creating it, providing it, and proving that new ideas are the cash cow of the 21st century.

One third of the world’s entrepreneurs are now women and that number is rising. According to an article in Forbes, by Joel Koltkin, women entrepreneurs in developing countries are even surpassing the world’s wealthiest countries. Women all over the globe are envisioning and starting up new businesses at twice the rate of men. They are dominating the ever-growing realm of social media, and the top women executives in these fields are now making 17% more than men in the same jobs. Studies also show that women are perhaps better rewarded than men in an entrepreneurial environment in which they can be their own bosses.

If you’re not convinced yet about the importance of these women in today’s business world, go check the Internet to see how many sites have been created about the work and world of the women entrepreneur. Women are changing the world of social media (from the ground up: content and SEO writing, to heading companies like Yahoo! and Facebook) and they are using their knowledge to promote growth in the women’s job market, not just in the media sector, but many other fields as well. Women seem to have their fingers on the pulse of the future, and that future involves innovation, creativity, communication and conscience.

Here are 10 lessons from Coco Chanel:

1. Do not let a male-centric business world discourage you. See paragraph one, women are creating twice as many start-ups as men, are dominating some industries, and are making money, many are making billions.

2. Being your own boss is a liberating experience. Studies show that women seem to excel in an environment where financial gain goes hand in hand with personal endeavour.

3. Don’t overlook the little things, not even the seemingly smallest idea. Pay attention to detail.

4. Explore the market critically. Where is there an overlooked niche, and how can that niche be filled and made into a successful business? Many of the most successful women entrepreneurs built their businesses on ideas that were overlooked by others.

5. Creativity. They sky is, literally, the limit, from women reinventing the nuclear reactor to entrancing the world with stories of flying sorcerers, if an idea intrigues you, research its potential and the market. Who would have known that Spanx would become a billion dollar company?

6. Communication, communication, communication. Women are notably good at it and have proved so in their groundbreaking advances in leadership in areas like social media.

7. Study. Research shows that the majority of successful women entrepreneurs study. Whether it be university degrees or a will to learn at home, the more you learn the more your creativity and business acumen will flourish.

8. Recycling, fair trade and earth conscious products. Women have seen the future and it means conservation of our planet and conservation of materials. Considering our children and grandchildren is not only wise, but profitable.

9. On the heels of lesson number 8, look to developing markets. This does not mean invest in slave labor, this means look to where money can best be spent while supporting a community. It has to do a bit with the old adage, “do unto others,” or in more colloquial terms, “I pat you on the back, you pat me back.” Communication and reciprocity are key. On the whole, something that women entrepreneurs seem to instinctually understand: a happy workforce is the grounds for a positive and successful business.

10. Use the senses afforded you. Study how other business successes have become as succefful as they are, then decided how you would like to emulate them, as well as how you would have done things differently. Nothing has to be cut in stone. Again, most successful women entrepreneurs are successful because they have their eyes open and can give a fresh outlook to old-hat ideas.

Can Akdeniz

Can Akdeniz is the author of seven books and founder of Business Hacker, a popular business blog. His books such as Go Nuts, Cool Boss, Happy Company and MBA 2.0 have changed how people think about business, productivity and work.