It must be admitted that I didn't realise this was a book about business when it arrived on my doorstep, which is, in fact, what it's about if you were wondering. It's gold and pretty and covered in poppies and has Lipstick Queen in the title so it was easy for me to overlook that word 'lessons'. My knowledge of Poppy King prior to the re-launch of Lipstick Queen was limited. Being a young American, I wasn't familiar with her trajectory to fame as a young entrepreneur in Australia and equally extreme, public fall from grace when she split with her business partners...
So it was with quite innocent eyes that I recently read Lessons of a Lipstick Queen. In a sentence, even I, somewhat jaded (at times, yes, I'll admit it) and (nearly) 30 years young, found it inspirational.
The premise is that we all have the capacity to start a business because we all have ideas and ideas create the foundation of every business, no matter how big or small. It all begins with simple ideas... or not so simple ideas, but ideas all the same. After establishing this, she gets into the business of revealing the steps she took and what she learned and what worked for her starting a business. There are no claims that this advice will work for everybody, rather it's what worked for her. And because she has had successes as well as failures (can't have one without the other), I do, in fact, want to know what she learned, what did and didn't work for her.
It's organised by Chapter, which includes a concept followed by her story followed by lessons learned with helpful call-out boxes and bullet points outlining the main points. It is simple and clear organisation that makes it easy to use the book as a reference tool.
Some of the best lessons from the book are simple, like the VERY TRUE notion that ideas are commodities. That one struck me like a ton of bricks because, looking back, I've given away myriad ideas for nothing because that's what I treated them as -- nothing, mere thoughts. She says, 'ideas are solid entities in and of themselves. As such, they can be traded, sold shared, reworked, research and so forth. Make no mistake, an idea is a commodity -- meaning that when you have one, you have something of value, a value that can be realised in any number of ways." Own it (yes, we Americans like to use that generally cringe-worthy little phrase but in this case it makes more sense than, say, as used by Julia Roberts en route to pick up Richard Gere in Pretty Woman as in this book Poppy's prompting you to take literal ownership over your intellectual property).
Also 'understand that the advice you seek is going to mirror the source'. It's brilliant and a very, shall we say, diplomatic way to say that a lot of the toss people are telling you will be of no use, and often times no relation, to what you're doing. Question the source and why they're offering it. She says take what you want to from the pool of advice on offer and leave the rest. And basic business concepts like a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) are very helpful to someone who doesn't the foggiest about business. See? Acronyms aren't so scary once you know what they mean. ROI anyone?
In Amazon's description of the book (I caved... just had a peek) it calls this book 'controversial'. If by controversial they mean loaded with common sense that hasn't been sugar coated and business concepts that haven't been veiled in industry jargon, then I suppose it is controversial.
Armed with the best ideas, perfect planning, logical and funding, success in business can still elude you. But it's not the end of the world and there are plenty more ideas to be had and jobs to be done. And plenty more chances for success. All it takes is one little idea.