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Japanese Investor Shares with Me Most Important Business Advice

It may strike you as simple and yet many product businesses miss it.

As a jewelry designer, I periodically go on a trend watching trip to Tokyo to get inspired and see what’s next in the fashion world. I truly believe that Japan is one of the most aesthetically advanced countries with a neat eye for design where many trends are born. During one of my trips I was introduced to a Japanese-American investor who had successfully started and sold multiple product companies. I do believe that no matter what we’re selling, the success of most product companies is based on very similar principals.

We scheduled a meeting to talk about business, life and whatever Shibuya, trendy neighborhood in Tokyo, would inspire us to converse about. Michael arrived right on time joining me at the famous Tokyo Starbucks overlooking the Shibuya crossing. We were people watching and making small talks about life in Japan, cuisine and travels when I asked him what the most important thing was to succeed as an entrepreneur. I did add that I was referring to the financial success. Michael responded right away saying that there were two main conditions for the business to be successful and people who fail miss one or the other or both. Here’s what he shared:

To have a financially successful product business you need to:
1. Find what people like
2. Sell it by the thousands

These, what seems like simple principles, do make sense. Your customers must like your products. You need to find out what they like by testing and tweaking. You need to make sure that what you do is scalable, that it’s possible to sell your pieces “by the thousands.” Entrepreneurs often don’t test if customers love their pieces. Or they know that they do but they realize that the products can’t be reproduced in an economical way.

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