When Starting a Business, Think Innovation Over Imitation

Mimicking a pre-existing business model is tempting. After all, there’s proof of its success within numbers, it’s been tested over time, and the reviews are already written. However, more often than not, successful businesses flourish when they lead with innovation and a need-based mindset.

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Entrepreneur Myleik Teele, founder and CEO of CurlBox; a curated hair product subscription service for women with natural hair, entered the world of small business, young, passionate and ready to solve a beauty issue facing African American women.

If you’re not familiar, Teele has a background in PR, where she experienced some of her first big breaks, having worked with reputable clients like Linkin Park, Travis Barker, and Prince. She went on to create Curlbox after identifying a gap in the haircare industry. With so many natural hair products on the market, how would women decide which ones? Well, Teele took it upon herself to not only answer that question, but to change the way black women experienced natural haircare all together.

“What the subscription box service did was give us a lot more access,” said Teele. “Why it worked well for me, is that black women hadn’t been able to experience products in this way.”

The 36-year-old CEO believes in going into business ready to “innovate not imitate.” When asked about the subscription box business model used for Curlbox and how entrepreneurs may incorporate this model today, Teele says she wouldn’t recommend it. Though the method is proven, it is not necessarily innovative.

“I would say don’t [use the subscription box model]. It’s not new, that’s the thing,” said Teele. “I feel like there’s  something that someone will come up with that will change the way we experience things,” she added.

In her monthly, and sometimes weekly podcast, titled MyTaughtYou, Teele advises budding entrepreneurs to approach business with a fresh perspective — challenging listeners to ask themselves, ‘Is there a need for what I’m offering or creating?’

She also shares her business journey, life lessons, and offers career advice to women of color in the workplace. During the episodes, she often reiterates the importance of goal setting, maintaining consistency and warns entrepreneurs that when beginning a  business venture they won’t always feel prepared, but that’s no excuse to wait.

“You won’t be ready,” said Teele in her How to Go to the Next Level Podcast. “You’re not going to feel ready. You’re likely [to be] ready when [the idea]starts tap dancing on your mind and you can’t stop thinking about it. You’re ready. Do it anyway.”

Click here to check out her MyTaughtYou podcast.