I don’t really identify myself with Oprah Winfrey, and I wouldn’t say that I am an Oprah groupie, however, I cannot deny her success. I am fascinated by the elements that go into this powerhouse role model for women — especially for women in business and women business owners. I’ve excerpted some lessons that we can all use, taken from an article by Jeanette Mulvey, “Mind Your Business: Lessons from Oprah.”
- Give people what they want
Jeanette notes that Oprah was a master at giving people what they wanted. She knew her audience and she catered to them. She took a concept, her “favorite things” show, and expanded it into an annual well-hyped extravaganza. Jeanette asks business owners to look inward to see how willing they are to change to meet customer needs and wants. If you find something that works, like Oprah, use it to grow and expand your business in that area.
- Focus on the brand
One of the things Oprah was also very good at, says Jeanette, was her ability to stay true to her brand. Rather than branch out into other areas as a way to get more exposure, Oprah focused on her show and her magazine. That’s about it. It’s something businesses should make note of and consider carefully before diluting their brand and expanding too quickly outside of their area of concentration.
- Picking winners
There’s no doubt, says Jeanette, that Oprah had a knack for picking successful partners. While detractors may say just being picked by Oprah is a golden ladder to success, there has to be some amount of genuine ability inherent in her choice of partners. Oprah most likely used her instincts to help her make her choices. You can use your “gut” and intuition to help you in your business decisions, too. Whether it is choosing employees, partners or ventures … finding those with similar objectives that align with your business plan is key.
- Know when to fold ‘em
While many Oprah fans are disillusioned at her decision to end her popular talk show, says Jeanette, she obviously knew when it was time to bow out gracefully. How many times have you seen a person or business try to hold on to something beyond its useful life span? Jeanette notes that, “Sometimes knowing when time is up is the most important thing a business owner can do.” If it’s not working, maybe moving on to something else is the best option.
We could all take a page from Oprah’s book of success and use it to help us think about ways to improve our own businesses. What does success mean to you? Let me know what you think success in business is, and it may lead to a blog about what success in business means to women.