Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dame Anita Roddick - Proving Entrepreneurs Can Do Well by Doing Good

Entrepreneurs need role models. They help us to believe that our dreams are possible. They demonstrate a path to success. They inspire us to set bigger and better goals than we ever would have otherwise.

Anita Roddick was such a role model for any aspiring entrepreneur. In 1976 she started her own beauty products business in a small building wedged between two funeral parlors in Brighton, England. She took out a mortgage for $6500 and got an investment of $8000 from a neighborhood garage owner. A little more than 30 years later, she sold her business, The Body Shop, which had grown to 2000 stores in 50 countries, for $1.14 billion.

But Anita Roddick achieved much more in her life than financial wealth. She pioneered the way that businesses interact with the world. She saw herself first and foremost as an activist – actively engaged in making the world a better place; her business was just one of her many means of doing so.

Anita never saw herself as a small player, even when she was first starting out. She never doubted that one woman, with determination, could make a difference. The slogan on her U.K. delivery trucks read, “If you think you're too small to have an impact, try going to bed with a mosquito.”

Anita worked in the beauty business, but she was never part of the beauty business. The Body Shop only sold cruelty-free products which did no testing on animals. She believed in doing well by doing good – working to help the environment, and promote animal rights and human rights while helping the company’s bottom line.

Anita, whose personal net worth was over $100 million, donated millions to charitable causes. She was personally involved with Greenpeace and with organizations to help the homeless in the United Kingdom. She founded Children on the Edge, which helps disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe and Asia. In 2003, Queen Elizabeth II appointed her Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Anita Roddick passed away this week, at the age of 64, due to a sudden brain hemorrhage. But she leaves a legacy of inspiration behind. Aspiring entrepreneurs sell themselves short when they assume they need to make a choice between improving their company’s bottom-line and improving the environment. Anita Roddick proved that by employing the single-minded determination of a mosquito, both are possible.

For more inspiration and information on entrepreneurship, visit my blog, More Than We Know.

1 comment:

Prabal Aggarwal said...

Its an inspiring story. And, i think another icon who can be seen in similar light in beauty business is Shahnaz Hussain.

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