Blog with Rob: See the Incremental Potential

Most everyone in the business world has heard of Cheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. The book, briefly, focuses on women “leaning in” to positions of leadership and creating a gender-equitable world. It has been both widely praised and highly criticized. On the one hand, it spent weeks atop bestseller lists and inspired many professional women to strive for leadership roles. On the other, critics note that Sandberg was privy to tremendous opportunity and financial support that many other women do not have access to.

So when I read an article in Business Insider a few weeks ago about a prominent female CEO’s book claiming to be the younger woman’s version of “Lean In,” I was intrigued. A more recent BI article featured an excerpt from that book, #GIRLBOSS by Nasty Gal clothing CEO Sophia Amoruso. And while I can’t say I have read Lean In or #GIRLBOSS in their entireties, I can say that there was one passage from Amoruso’s book that really stuck with me and is relevant to any young budding entrepreneur—male or female:

There are different kinds of entrepreneurs. There are the ones who start a business because they’re educated and choose to, and the ones who do it because it is really the only option. I definitely fall into the latter category. I considered myself completely unemployable, and wanted to give one last shot at my ideal of being “jobless.” And boy, did being jobless work for me.

Nasty Gal would have surely failed had it been my goal to grow a business to the size that I have today. When you begin with the finish line in mind, you miss all the fun stuff along the way. The better approach is to tweak and grow, tweak and grow. I call it the incremental potential. In e-commerce, you have to get everything right — from the marketing to the product descriptions to the checkout process.

I have to say, gender aside, it has been a long time since I have read a passage like this that has so completely resonated with me. Say it with me, Incremental Potential. I built my own successful business because I had the skills and didn’t fit into other peoples’ molds. Granted, payroll maybe isn’t as alluring as a flashy clothing website, but I can’t help but recognize that people like Amoruso and me are cut from the same cloth.

Don’t be afraid to hustle—set small goals, achieve them, and you may be surprised at what you are truly capable of doing. See the incremental potential in yourself.

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Rob Basso is a recognized small business expert, successful business owner and entrepreneur.

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