The Martha Rules
by Martha Stewart actually had its beginning when Martha was in prison. Two fellow inmates had asked her to look over and give feedback on their “Big Idea” for a business they hoped to start once they were out of jail. She examined their plans and made suggestions. Martha realized that many of the women there would benefit from business advice, so she gave a talk in the prison’s speaker’s room, and now she shares that information with the rest of us in her new book.
It’s no surprise that Martha does know business. Her success is legendary and she continues to grow and expand her company. “The Martha Rules” contains stories of how she began and grew her business, and it is full of inspiring stories of other entrepreneur, from Sean “Diddy” Combs to Steve Jobs to Warren Buffet and countless others.
I found her “rules” to be very similar to what I advise my own readers, clients and associates. Particularly those where she recommends basing your business on your passions, providing stellar customer service, educating your customers and marketing creatively and with common sense. There’s also “nuts & bolts” advice – get a good lawyer and a good accountant, hire good employees, be frugal, research your ideas, and so on.
Many already know Martha’s story—she began working as a photographer’s model when she was a teenager, later she became a stockbroker, then got her real estate license and only after finding those careers unfulfilling did she start the catering business that led to her phenomenal success. Martha talks about those steps in this book, and yes, she does discuss her experiences at Alderson.
While there are great ideas and suggestions in this book, and I enjoyed Martha’s perspective and stories, I did find much of the information to be “basic” and sometimes a little boring. For example, I love the Airborne product (the cold & flu remedy invented by a teacher) and yet, I’ve read that story & many of the others described in Martha’s book (Bill Gates, FedEx, Amazon.com, Bette Nesmith Graham, etc.) many times in other resources. They are great business stories, but not exactly “new”.
Martha also includes many stories of lesser-known entrepreneurs she has worked with or come to know throughout the years who have built successful businesses around their passions, or “Big Ideas” and some who have overcome setbacks and even failures to do so. How her hairdresser has built a successful spa in New York City and how Dr. Brent Ridge hopes to revolutionize the hearing aid business are two examples.
Your “Big Idea” (Martha’s term) and how to research, refine and build a business around it is why Martha wrote this book. If you are thinking about taking the plunge, or if you already have a business, the “rules” Martha talks about can help you with inspiration, examples and good basic advice.
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