Tips from the celebrities turned bosses: What Sean Combs, Jessica Alba and the Olsen twins can teach us about business

The Olsen twins have cultivated a fashion brand that is worth millions of dollars (Source: Getty)
Making sure you’ve got a product people will buy still matters.
The “world's first global cannabis brand,” Marley Natural, was unveiled yesterday by Bob Marley’s family. It’ll sell cannabis-infused creams and accessories, marketed as medicinally beneficial. But however good the products turn out to be, no-one’s going to argue that much of the brand’s power existed before the business – the main selling point is Marley himself.
Over the years, numerous celebrities have used their status as a platform to start a company, and often successfully – think Paul Newman before Newman’s salad dressing. So what can today’s Hollywood stars turned business people teach us about doing it successfully?


Sean Combs, aka P Diddy, has readily put his face to business ventures

KNOW YOUR BAG

The transformation of Sean “Diddy” Combs has not just been from Puff to P. The rapper founded a music cable network and has most recently bought a 50 per cent stake in premium tequila brand DeLeon. Part of his success, he maintains, is sticking to what he knows – and ensuring he knows it really well. “Make sure the odds are in your favour. And to do that, make sure that you are a master of that category that you are investing in, or you are trying to start a business in,” he said to Entrepreneur.com last year. “Any business I get into, I go and I do the proper studying and I do the research to make sure I thoroughly understand that business.”
And the challenge doesn’t end there. Running a business isn’t just about realising your passions, says Diddy – it has also got to make money. “If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.”

CAN IT MAKE MONEY?

This is something that actress Jessica Alba knows all too well. The Sin City star has defied critics with her brand The Honest Company, which she founded in 2011. It’s a slightly slushy one – the firm produces nontoxic household, baby and personal care goods – but it’s also forecast to hit revenues of $150m (£95m) this year.
Part of this is because Alba and her team know how to keep customers on board, reports Inc. The company offers free trials, with half of those trying it staying on as customers. It also has a subscription service – which 80 per cent of customers use – to ensure recurring revenue. This means customers have the items they need delivered regularly, and for Alba, it plays into the kind of brand she envisaged: “I wanted this to be a whole lifestyle brand,” she told Inc.


Jessica Alba's The Honest Company was founded in 2011

THE RIGHT IMPRESSION

And the kind of impression you give really matters, even when you’re Hollywood royalty. The Olsen twins have amassed an estimated fortune of $300m. But growing their fashion line didn’t just mean sticking their faces on it.
When they launched clothing line The Row in 2006, they considered bringing in a front man: “we didn’t want people to know that we were behind it,” Ashley Olsen told The Telegraph. Both wanted their designs to speak louder than them – to be the draw for customers: “we’d learned so much about building brands and talking to a specific customer. We did it with our faces at the beginning, and we knew we didn’t want to do that anymore.” The brand is now stocked in 37 countries, with 188 stores.

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