Last week, American Express OPEN brought together some of the country’s top entrepreneurs to share their insight, wisdom, and small business success stories.
The event celebrates the launch of new benefits for the Business Platinum card, such as card member access to exclusive networking and educational opportunities.
The first panel featured Shonda Rhimes, founder, chairwoman, and CEO of ShondaLand, sharing the keys to her small business success. Rhimes was blunt about the kind of hard work it takes to have multiple hit shows.
“What made the difference is that I was willing to stay longer and work harder than anyone else,” she said.
And even though television is a brutal business, she encouraged those with the passion for it to try anyway: “If you love it and it is exactly what you want to do, just do it.”
The session was moderated by journalist Tamron Hall and also featured:
- Jen Rubio, co-founder of luggage retailer Away
- Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder and founder of Birdhouse Skateboards
- Chieh Huang, CEO of Boxed, a wholesale mobile shopping app
After the first set of panelists revealed how they achieved small business success, Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and CEO of Warby Parker, conducted a one-on-one conversation with Jessica Alba, founder of The Honest Co.
Alba spoke candidly about what it was like starting a company with no business experience and some of the growing pains that come along with scaling your company.
She also talked about checking her ego at the door when she was pitching and letting others poke holes in your ideas. “The first name of the company was Love & Honor, which sounds like a bridal company. Every time I pitched it to women they were like, ‘Aww, because of your daughter Honor. I totally get it.'”
“But guys just didn’t have the same reaction. And even though I knew my core consumer was going to be a woman, you have to have everyone at least buy in–especially knowing the world of finance and who you were likely going to get capital from.”