When it comes to staging a comeback after a setback Nadine A. Thompson understands all too well. Thompson is the founder and CEO of the Soul Purpose Lifestyle Company, a unique direct sales company that produces natural personal care products. Soul Purpose comes on the heels of Thompson’s first venture, Warm Spirit, which she founded in 1999 but experienced a hostile takeover in 2007.
Thompson is one of the featured panelists on the session, “Sisters Inc.: Bouncing Back,” at the 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo (BEEC2012) in Chicago (May 23-26). The Sisters Inc. session, one of the most popular and enduring features of the conference is designed specifically as a forum for women business owners to discuss the trials and triumphs of their entrepreneurial journeys. Thompson will be joined on the session by Brenda Braxton, owner of BBraxton, Exceptional Grooming for Exceptional Men in Harlem, N.Y. Braxton will share how she rebounded after being forced to shut down her business in 2009 due to mismanagement, and the valuable lessons she gained from the experience that has made her a better, stronger entrepreneur today.
Thompson will provide insights to other entrepreneurs on the resilience it takes to overcome perceived failures based on her own personal challenges. Thompson had it all at the time as Warm Spirit’s herbal beauty care product line had gained national recognition including Oprah’s O magazine and celebrity endorsers including Diane Keaton. With a nationwide network of more than 30,000 consultants and annual sales of over $16 million, Warm Spirit transformed the face of the direct sales and network marketing industry by providing an opportunity to achieve wealth and financial freedom that had not always been accessible for women—and even less so for the African-American community.
But then the unthinkable happened. Thompson lost the company to her financial investor and his new business partner after she disagreed with a business plan that they had created. Thompson says that her belief she was an equal partner, and therefore a shareholder in the company that she had created and nurtured was shattered. “I owned nothing, not even a single share of the company that I built.” She attempted to raise the capital needed to purchase Warm Spirit but her offer was refused. She was forced out of the company. “I was devastated, crushed, and depressed. The beautiful company that I created and built over the last 10 years was stripped away,” she recalls. Even more disturbing, Warm Spirit filed for bankruptcy twelve months after Thompson left the company.
But an important message that gave her strength and helped her move forward during this trying time came from the Bible scripture: “Be Still and Know That I am God.” Committed to her goal to build a global network marketing and direct sales company that would empower women, Thompson decided to start over in 2008. Her rebirth was Soul Purpose.
“I believe more than ever that the entrepreneurial experience is a journey; the key is understanding that there will be challenges disguised as failures,” she says. “Successful entrepreneurs are those who are able to learn from the challenges and bounce back resiliently from perceived failures.”
Thompson reveals eight lessons that she has learned from her experience:
Resilience is essential! Read as much as you can about resilience and if you don’t have those skills acquire them.
Entrepreneurialism by definition includes risk. Accept that.
Challenges and opportunities for growth are often disguised as failures.
Intuition is a gift; do not ignore it!
Learn from your mistakes and do not repeat them because that it involves insanity.
When criticized hear it “with a grain of salt” but always ask yourself what the possible truth or opportunity for learning is embedded in that criticism.
Strong faith, belief in a power higher than oneself and good friends will sustain you.
Work hard every day and honor your Sabbath.
Thompson will join fellow Sister Inc. panelists to share their personal stories as well as strategies on how other women can come back and overcome challenges in life and business, whether it is a failed marriage, bad business partnership, or a major financial loss.
Thompson is among the accomplished entrepreneurs who will share their success secrets at the 2012 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference + Expo hosted by Nationwide, May 23-26, at the Hilton Chicago Hotel in Chicago, IL. Search and follow the hashtag #BEEC2012 on Twitter for the latest updates on conference speakers and sessions. Expect innovative sessions, high-powered speakers, and an early peek at the products, trends, and services you’ll need to stay ahead of the curve. To register and find out more, visit www.blackenterprise.com/ec/