This week’s “Ask the Mompreneur” features a guest blog post by Liz Claman, an anchor at FOX Business Network and a favorite of one of the world’s best investors: Warren Buffett. Claman will interview Buffett on Monday (5/6) at 9:30 AM/ET on the FOX Business Network, and will feature live questions from students at Wake Forest University Business School.
Warren Buffett loves women. Let me re-phrase that: He loves smart, entrepreneurial women. At the top of his Hall-of-Fame favorites would have to be Rose Blumkin, the Russian Jewish immigrant who founded the Nebraska Furniture Mart. Listen-up, mompreneurs: Rose had every quality that, to this day, Buffett reveres.
Rose founded her furniture business in a basement location in Omaha with $500 in borrowed funds. Among the first things she sold were her own belongings. Competitors tried to take her to court for pricing lower than what they were offering.
The tiny woman with the Russian accent stood her ground, time and time again. What started as a 3,000 square foot operation today is now 75 acres and hauls in hundreds of millions of dollars for Buffett. He bought the company for $60 million in 1992.
Offer the very best product for the very best price
Back in 1984 in his annual shareholder letter, Buffett outlined principles of running a business. He focused on how managers and owners should behave in order to win:
1. Apply themselves with an enthusiasm that would make Ben Franklin and Horatio Alger look like dropouts;
2. Define with extraordinary realism their area of special competence and act decisively on all matters within it;
3. Ignore even the most enticing propositions falling outside of that area of special competence; and
4. Unfailingly behave in a high grade manner with everyone they deal with.
Rose Blumkin often said, “Sell cheap and tell the truth.”
The Basement Mentality
Doris Christopher, like Rose Blumkin, opened her business, The Pampered Chef, in her basement in 1980. Today it’s global and made so much money Buffett plunked down the cash to buy in 2002.
Start small and don’t over-extend yourself. Add a healthy dose of passion and you can’t help but succeed.
Stop looking at yourself through a funhouse mirror
I talked to Warren Buffett last night on the eve of his Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting and he was flying high over the response to an article he wrote that just got published in Fortune Magazine about how women are the key to prosperity in this nation.
“Women need to stop looking at themselves through (the distortions of) carnival funny mirrors. They need to believe in themselves and stop listening to the naysayers.”
If Buffett is a believer, you should be too.
Jennie Wong, Ph.D. is an executive coach, author of “Ask the Mompreneur,” and founder of the social shopping startup CartCentric.com. Follow her on Twitter @DrJennieWong.