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Building a Billion Dollar Brand

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Opportunities for disruption abound in established industries. Here are some tips in helping you build a company that will displace its predecessor.

Today’s service and retail industries are being redefined by so called, ‘purpose brands.’ The quintessential example of a purpose brand is Starbucks, which not only changed how and where Americans consume coffee but also how service employees are treated. Given the increase in consumer demand for products and services that are mission minded, how should entrepreneurs position themselves to build a billion dollar retail/service brand that will stand the test of time? This summer I was able to intern at MiniLuxe, a nail salon that is disrupting the $10BN nail, brow, and waxing industry. Here’s how they are doing it:

‘Purpose Above Product’heart

The founders of MiniLuxe, Tony Tjan and John Hamel, did not set out to build ‘just another nail salon.’ Instead, they accurately detected that the corner nail salon was simply performing a service and not catering to women’s need for self-care. They started MiniLuxe with a clear purpose: to provide self-care and to ‘Starbuck’ the nail salon which allowed them to redefine the ‘typical’ nail salon customer experience. Tony and John believe that starting a business with a clear purpose will allow entrepreneurs to create products and services that far surpass what
we have come to accept as norms. (More on this here: https://hbr.org/2009/08/purpose-bigger-than-product.html)

A business organized around a clearly articulated purpose will find that they will be able to re-imagine traditional industries and will be better able to organize and motivate employees.

Structure Follows Purpose

If you have a clear purpose, your organizational structure and systems should reflect your purpose at every level. In the case of MiniLuxe, not only is the physical space designed to best accommodate clients’ needs, but they have also restructured employee recruiting, onboarding, and compensation in a way that makes employees feel cared for (and thus, can provide better service to clients.) Because they were able to build around a purpose, Tony and John have created an organization that is re-defining what the nail industry can look like (and causing many others to think of and push for more innovation in the beauty space.)

If your company is structured around fulfilling a purpose (versus a making a product or completing a service) you will likely find that there are a myriad of tweaks or overhauls that can be done to the structure that will empower others to perform to their potential.

Hire Talent Who Finds Fulfillment in Your Purpose

Bring on people who live and breathe your mission. In the case of MiniLuxe, not only are all executives and hires deeply passionate about self-care but they are also invigorated by the industry they are helping to change and by the elevated norms they are creating for nail technicians.

 

2 thoughts on “Building a Billion Dollar Brand

  1. Great post Julisa!

    I agree with your premise of purpose above product, of re-imagining your service based on that purpose mentality, and that structure must align with purpose.

    Your comment around hiring talent who finds fulfillment in your purpose is interesting. I agree. It’s clearly advantageous for MiniLuxe to hire executives who care about reforming self-care, but I don’t think it’s essential. An interested addition I’d like to add that hit home for me when studying a supermarket chain is that truly any company can implement a purpose-driven culture, beginning with customer service. The employees at the supermarket chain, and I’d argue many of those in management, weren’t passionate about supermarket operations, but were clearly untied around delivering exceptional customer service.

    I remember stepping back while reading and realizing, purpose can be imbued in any type of organization, starting with customer service. Starbucks is so impressive now, it’s almost unapproachable for entrepreneurs. But I think it’s useful to remember, no matter what type of business you’re in, reframing your mission from product to purpose is possible.

  2. Spot on Julisa!

    The key to every successful enterprise is solving an actual problem, offering a solution that people would readily pay to acquire. If you start off with that premise, it is easy(-er?) to build passion and create a sense of purpose within your firm. It allows you to make internal decisions that reflect a clear mission and could easily be translated in a language understood across your organization.

    Your point on hiring is quite on point. Many entrepreneurs and even seasoned executives often forget the low hanging fruit of customer satisfaction. They claim to focus on it but at the end, it is an unquantifiable expense that only serves to keep you at par with the competition or give you a nice slogan to put on a billboard. Founders should never forget understanding and mitigating customer needs outside the core problem they solve yields enormous benefits. It is a source of competitive advantage and often serves as the “secret sauce” of successful enterprises. However, to achieve it, companies need to hire people who closely align with the passion to serve the client. Without aligning incentives and objectives and most importantly aligning corporate and personal purposes, employees would rarely go above and beyond.

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