“And that means you can start today.” Ramit Sethi of I Will Teach You To Be Rich
image credit: Alex E. Proimos
This post is inspired by Ramit Sethi’s blog post Success and The Shrug Effect. Please read his post entirely. It’s inspiring and the best perspective on successful people I have seen.
Ramit’s Website: iwillteachyoutoberich
I want to expand on Ramit’s post by sharing reasons why you can be successful in the hunting industry just like the successful leaders in the industry that have come before you. You don’t have to simply “shrug” off the success of the leaders in the hunting industry while thinking you can’t reach or exceed their level of success.
We’ll look at a few examples and show that each started out on paths just like you and that if you continue on your path of “doing something that interests you, stepping up, and taking a chance on the unknown” (as Ramit says), you can be successful too.
LL Bean – A Story of Failure
Website: LL Bean
One of my favorite books is L.L.Bean: The Making of an American Icon. The book was written by former LL Bean CEO and grandson of Leon Leonwood Bean (LL Bean Founder), Leon Gorman. I recommend reading this book. It’s an inspiration for any business owner. Leon Gorman takes you through the history of LL Bean (the company), which includes direct marketing and retail marketing. It discusses strategies for marketing as well as merchandising. It discusses the unique selling proposition of LL Bean as well as other interesting company information.
One of the famous stories of the initial founding of LL Bean involves the failure of the first product offered: The Main Hunting Shoe or “The Bean Boot” (still sold today).
Leon Leonwood loved hunting and fishing in the outdoors of Maine, but he had a problem keeping his feet dry. He developed his boot that put together a rubber, waterproof bottom with flexible, leather upper. It was a genius design in both functionality and simplicity.
Bean obtained a list of licensed hunters in Maine and sent out a circular promoting his new invention. Demand was high and bean sold 100 pairs of his boot. Unfortunately, the rubber on the bottom cracked on most of the pairs and 90 were sent back. Unfazed, Bean took out anther loan, repaired the boots, and sent updated versions back out to each customer.
Just like you, Leon Leonwood started out to solve a problem for hunters. He worked to create something that hadn’t been invented yet. He started from scratch, yet he basically took what was available at the time – rubber and leather – and combined them to create a functional and simple shoe for hunters.
LL Bean was just a hunter like you who took small steps to reach the heights he did with his company while he was alive. That company is still thriving today and expanding into new products and marketing efforts with each passing season.
Dick and Jim Cabela – Another Story of Failure
The origin of Cabela’s is a great story in testing and marketing.
According to the Cabela’s Company History, Dick Cabela took out a classified ad in the Casper, Wyoming newspaper reading: “12 hand-tied flies for $1”. He got one response. He changed the ad to read: “FREE Introductory offer! 5 hand tied Flies…25c Postage…Handling” and put it in national publications like Sports Afield. The orders came rolling in.
Today, Cabela’s is the largest outdoor outfitter in the world. It all started Dick and his wife Mary’s kitchen table as they grew their mail-order business to include other outdoor products all while using direct mailing techniques still used today like inserting catalogs with each outgoing order package. Dick’s brother Jim eventually joined the family team and the business became what it is today.
Just as you may be, Dick Cabela was an outdoorsman who started his business out of his own home with little more than a few simple ideas, marketing techniques and the support of his family.
The Cabela family found ways to become innovative with their marketing. This is how they were able to stand out apart from the many other outfitters over the past 40+ years. Hunters, Fishermen, and other outdoors enthusiasts are able to easily understand what it is Cabela’s provides and they trust Cabela’s to provide the best outfitting equipment. This trust was built through direct, retail, and online contact channels.
The Cabela’s didn’t stumble on some mysterious secret formula for success. They were regular folks just like you who saw a need in the hunting industry and kept an open mind when it came to learning how best to provide quality outfitting products for outdoorsmen.
Their innovation is what’s kept them on top for so many years.
You can do the same with your hunting business by experimenting with new things in marketing, product design, and service innovation.
Todd Graf – Online Hunting Industry Pioneer
As Ramit says, “it starts earlier”.
According to Todd Graf – The Early Years, 14-year old Todd to do a job at a local pet store for free simply to prove that he had a strong work ethic. While at the pet store, Todd learned the lesson all entrepreneurs learn – there are ups and downs, but it’s important to keep rolling through as your grow slowly and consistently.
Immediately after graduating from college, Graf started his own company, ISC Solutions. At the time, the IT and online networking industry was fresh, young, and still mostly unknown to the public at large. Todd was unafraid to jump fully into the field as he was passionate about becoming a success at something new and exciting.
As Todd’s business grew, he found that he was finding less and less time to hunt – his other passion. To fill the void he started a hunting Website, which eventually became HuntingNet.com. Hunting Net is the most popular hunting community and Website on the Web today.
Since the launch of these two successful ventures, Todd has also launched Rhino Group, a company that takes Todd’s experience and expertise in the Website design and functionality and builds top of the line Websites for businesses. Graf has also launched Bowhunting.com, which is one of my favorite Websites. Bowhunting.com also has an e-commerce business model, which to my knowledge is new for Graf. He seems unafraid of trying new things.
Sure, you could shrug off Todd’s success as simply a result of his intelligence, drive, and passion for business and hunting (Ramit’s theory), but don’t believe for a second that you aren’t capable of the same or even higher level of success.
All of Todd’s success came with small steps that he envisioned as he grew his various businesses. He worked hard each day to fulfill the wants and needs of his target customers and today he’s one of the most important figures in the online hunting industry.
There is no reason you can’t reach the same or higher level of success.
Common Themes for Your Success
A few common themes stand-out in the three examples:
2| Small Steps
5| Unique Selling Propositions
The leaders in the hunting and outdoor industry mentioned above all had failures along their paths to success. I’m sure they’re still experiencing things that don’t work out as well as they hope today – despite all of the success they’ve had.
Failure is something that happens in our everyday lives and as an entrepreneur you’re going to experience a heightened level of failure as you experiment with potential unique selling propositions. Don’t be afraid to fail, but always focus on improving the life of your target customer. Always focus on adding value to their lives as hunters. Don’t aim for failure, but don’t fear it or become discouraged when it happens. Take the lesson and improve.
Each of the hunting industry leaders mentioned above took small steps to reach their current level of success. They started at various times and circumstances in their lives, but they all started somewhere and took small steps that built on each that came before to create the heights of success they have today.
There are two things successful entrepreneurs seem to have the ability to focus on – long-term visions and short-term actions. Figure out what your long-term vision is and focus on doing the small things it takes each hour of each day to ultimately reach that vision.
All successful entrepreneurs have passion for what they’re doing. Without a passion, there is no focus and drive. Make sure that what you’re doing is something you can remain passionate about.
All of the leaders in the hunting industry mentioned above took risks into the unknown. They weren’t afraid to experiment with new designs, marketing tactics or technologies. Venture into the unknown, as Ramit says, and you’ll find what others have yet to discover. Become a leader in the hunting industry by discovering something hunters don’t yet realize they need, but that they will recognize when they see it.
LL Bean, the Cabelas, and Todd Graf all created businesses that have unique selling propositions. Whether it’s innovative boots and other hunting products sold through direct channels, or innovative marketing strategies, or innovative online channels and communities and Websites – each has its own unique aspect that makes it stand apart from the competition.
Successful people take small steps to make their businesses stand out as signal in a world full of noise.
Today, we see the leaders in the hunting and outdoor industries as successful. I’m sure some of us “shrug” off their success and credit them with being smart, lucky, innovative, etc. But if we can see that they started out just like us, we can realize our own passion and drive and take the small steps necessary to reach the level of success we dream about.
“And that means you can start today.”
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