The business book you should read this month: #GIRLBOSS

Sophia Amoruso went from petty theft to founder of a $100m fashion retailer. Here's why her book is a must-read for budding female entrepreneurs

Business book: #GIRLBOSS#GIRLBOSS

What is #GIRLBOSS about?

“A #GIRLBOSS is in charge of her own life. She gets what she wants because she works for it”. This is the opening line to Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso’s bestselling book #GIRLBOSS and is the sentiment that echoes throughout each chapter.

Full of empowering and un-apologetic mantras, no-nonsense business advice, and honest accounts of how she turned her life around from petty criminal to retail mogul, Amoruso’s book looks to inspire anyone to find their own “unique path to success”.

Amoruso shares her start-up story: Aged 22 and working in a job she hated, she began selling vintage clothes on eBay as a hobby and this later developed into Nasty Gal – the US online fashion retailer, which by the time Amorosu was 30, had achieved turnover of over $100m and employed 350 people.

While Amoruso’s story is impressive, her focus throughout the book is on letting the reader know that you don’t need to have a degree, business experience, or even take yourself too seriously (“let your freak flag fly”) to be successful.

Target audience?

As Amoruso states in the foreword, #GIRLBOSS is intended to “inspire women everywhere” but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any good take-away tips for men too. From securing funding to hiring staff, there are lots of insights that are as valuable for budding male entrepreneurs as they are for females.

What’s the best bit of #GIRLBOSS?

Alongside frank observations about business and the start-up world, within each chapter Amoruso shares case studies and pointers from female founders, authors and bloggers , what she refers to as ‘Portrait of a #GIRLBOSS’.

These ‘Portraits’ include fashion designer Norma Karmali who advises you to “dream and never stop dreaming. Making my dreams come true has always inspired me to work hard” alongside blogger Alexi Wasser of IMBOYCRAZY.com who gives an open account of what it’s like to work on a freelance basis:

“If you don’t build structure for yourself, you feel like you always have to be working and it’s exhausting. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance work and a personal life.”

Why should business owners read #GIRLBOSS?

#GIRLBOSS has been referred to as Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In “but for misfits” and this is a pretty accurate description. The book aims to encourage both “outsiders and insiders” – those who won’t necessarily be able to relate to the stories of Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs. For anyone launching a business idea, it’s hugely inspiring to find out how Amoruso went from what she refers to as “a broke, anarchist “freegan” dead set on smashing the system” to a millionaire business woman.

3 top take-away points for start-ups:

  1. Be obsessed with your customers and keep them at the centre of everything you do: “Without customers, you have nothing”
  2. Leave your ego at the door: “Be respectful, collaborative, curious and open-minded”
  3. Keep learning: “Get excited about growth, take intelligent risks, and learn from your mistakes”

Excerpt business owners can learn from?

The chapter ‘Taking care of (your) business’ is especially useful for aspiring start-up founders:

“Turnoffs [for investors]:

“Over-confidence: You need to be passionate and excited about what you’re doing but don’t be so blinded by it that you’re unrealistic. If you’re saying things like ‘No-one has ever done this before’ it usually comes across as cocky, or, worse, uninformed. As a #GIRLBOSS you should always be confident – and absolutely sure – about what you know, but humble about what you don’t.

“Talking about how soon you plan to exit: This might work for some people, but most investors are in it for the long haul. It’s for the same reasons that I don’t like it when I ask people where they want to be in two years and they answer that they want to own their own fashion businesses. People like to see evidence of commitment.

“Typos and general unpreparedness: Yeah, this is just basically a turnoff for anyone, everywhere.”(P.196)

Book name: #GIRLBOSS
Authors: Sophia Amoruso
Date published: August 2015
RRP:  £7.99 (paperback)
Synopsis: In 2006, Sophie Amoruso was “dicking around on the internet” and decided to open up an eBay shop called Nasty Gal Vintage. Eight years later, she had become the CEO of a $100m+ retail business with 350 employees. Amoruso’s book looks at the ins-and-outs of starting a business and seeks to empower readers to become a #GIRLBOSS – to take control and responsibility of their own lives.

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