As many of you already know, in my first life I was a fashion designer. So I've long been interested in how design and art can make the world a better place, which is why the exhibition 'Hello, my name is Paul Smith' at London's Design Museum was my perfect Saturday treat.
Not only is it a great exhibition, but it's a vivid demonstration of 7 golden business lessons that I'd like to share with you.
1. Have a dream, and follow your destiny
Paul's worked in a men's clothing wholesalers, but his real passion was cycling and he hoped to be a professional racing cyclist. When he was 17, he had an accident that put an end to this ambition. While in hospital, he made friends with some 'arty types' and his life had just taken him in an entirely new and unexpected direction.
2. Find a sponsor who believes in you and keeps you true to your dream
Pauline Denyer was his teacher, she later became his wife. She saw his potential and taught him what he needed to know about the fashion industry, encouraging him to open his first shop in Nottingham.
3. Start small and watch your cashflow
Paul's first show was in a windowless space that measured just 3m by 3m (12ft sq), called 'Paul Smith Vêtements Pour Homme'. Small, but big enough to test his ideas and get feedback from the public. Remember this was 1970, long before Facebook 'Likes' or any social media sharing tools. From there, he went on to open a 'proper' shop, employing staff six days a week.
The size of Paul's first shop
4. There is no reason why you can't follow your dreams while keeping one foot in the ground
Paul could only afford to work in his shop on Fridays and Saturdays. The rest of the time he had to take on several freelance jobs to keep going. This just shows that you can start your own business even if you're still working for someone else or have to do other part-time work at the same time. The message is, just take the first step and get the ball rolling. Starting an internet-based business offers the greatest flexibility, because you're not tied to a particular location and can work around your current job.
5. Persevere, even if you don't get overnight success
Paul's first showroom 'collection' was a very humble affair - just six shirts, two jumpers and two suits spread out on a hotel bed. Only one person turned up, at the end of the final day, but they placed an order, and it was the start of an international business.
His first fashion show was at a friend's flat in Paris. They moved out all the furniture, wrote to people inviting them to come along, friends acted as models, and champagne was bought from the local supermarket. It was crowded, exciting - and successful.
6. Be yourself and build a business that suits your personality, interests and ambitions
Paul is interested in many things, so his studio in Covent Garden is an Aladdin's cave, full of objects that inspire him, including thousand of gifts sent to him by followers all around the world. Order may work from some, chaos works for others. Know what you want and what you like, know where you want to go, find inspiration, feel alive, enjoy the process and do it your way!
Paul's Covent Garden studio
7. Expect and be ready for growth!
From the tiniest of beginnings, today Paul Smith has a global business with more than three hundred stores selling fourteen different collections across five continents. These include homeware, kidswear, womenswear, and of course his iconic menswear collections.
He invented the much-borrowed phrase 'classic with a twist' and has built his empire by providing just that.
How to get started?
How about taking some action to see how you might make your dream come true? Get started with this simple action: write down your vision in the comment box below, so you have put your dream into the world to keep you accountable, and read it out loud again and again, each time with more conviction. Decide that this is what you want to do and really commit to your entrepreneurial journey!
Looking for more inspiration from the Award winning author, speaker and coach Maite Baron, then download 2 free chapters from her Nautilus 2014 Award winning book Corporate Escape The Rise of the New Entrepreneur. With the bonus that you will receive her weekly thought provoking updates. Get your download here.
Would you like to see how you might make your dream come true? Get started with this simple action: write down your vision on a piece of paper, add today's date, and read it out loud again and again, each time with more conviction. Decide that this is what you want to do and really commit to your entrepreneurial journey!
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