Gwyneth Paltrow, the actress who founded GOOP, is a successful entrepreneur.
Since starting her company Goop in 2008, Paltrow has grown the lifestyle brand into an organization that employs 110 people and that grossed, by some estimates, between $15 and $20 million in 2016. To date, the company has raised $20 million in equity, including a $15 million Series B financing that was recently completed. Goop is for real.
What exactly is Goop? It’s a lifestyle brand that comprises recipes, spiritual advice, book recommendations, and now a brick-and-mortar store called Goop Lab in Los Angeles, along with a new quarterly magazine published by Condé Nast that sports — of course — Paltrow on the cover of the first issue.
Goop is a place to go for cosmetics, clothing, accessories, and other products that align with the company’s values that include, according to its website: “We believe that the little things count, that good food is the foundation of love and wellness, that the mind/body/spirit is inextricably linked and we have more control over how we express our health than we currently understand, that it’s better to buy fewer things that are better.”
And it’s all Gwyneth.
But what if there were no Gwyneth? Could a business like Goop even exist without its celebrity founder?
Probably not. But that’s the point.
Doors open for Gwyneth Paltrow and she has no qualms about leveraging her celebrity status. “I don’t know many young entrepreneurs who can call [Disney CEO] Bob Iger, [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg or [Airbnb founder] Brian Chesky, and they are kind enough to waste a little bit of their day to help me.” she told the Hollywood Reporter. “So in that respect, my celebrity has been a huge asset.”
Of course, being a celebrity entrepreneur is not without its challenges, particularly for an A-lister like Paltrow who’s trying to build a brand that goes beyond her name. “I’m a target in a way most entrepreneurs are not,” she says.
But, whether or not you’re a fan of Goop or Paltrow, you can learn something about her strategy: She, like other celebrities/entrepreneurs from Jessica Alba to Mark Wahlberg, isn’t above using her valuable asset as a celebrity to get introductions, open doors, and create opportunities.
You and I may not be celebrities like Paltrow — but we have our assets, too. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs I meet, particularly those starting up new businesses, ignore these assets.
For example, if you’ve spent 20 years in the financial services industry then you might want to think twice before opening a restaurant. I know, I know — it sounds romantic and all. But your experience is financial, not cooking, so why not do what you know?
If you’ve got friends with money to invest, then why are you ignoring them to spend more than you need with a bank or other lender?
If you know that you’re a good salesperson, then why aren’t you spending more time doing sales instead of stuff that you’re not as good at?
Hire someone to do your payroll or design your website — and focus on what you do best.
We all have assets.
Maybe you’ve got a great network or have an aptitude for math. Perhaps you’re well-known at your church or you’ve got a relative who’s successful somewhere and may be able to provide you with a few good introductions. Use these assets — don’t ignore them.
Paltrow is a celebrity who started up a quirky brand around things she knows and loves, and then unabashedly used her well-known name to promote that business into a success. There was no guarantee of this, and she still needs a decent head on her shoulders to turn a profit (let alone raise $20 million). But she wasn’t afraid to use her biggest asset to her advantage. And neither should you be.
Tell me, what’s your big (or little) advantage?