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An entrepreneur’s guide to optimism

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in Leaders & Managers,Workplace Communication

Nicole Alvino always knew that someday, she’d own her own business.

An Enron employee with degrees in economics and Japanese, Alvino had already planned on attending business school when the energy company imploded, and her professors encouraged her to strike out on her own.

She just needed an idea.

It took almost a year, but Alvino saw that the personal care industry was fragmented, profitable, fun and growing.

Her niche: a happy medium between serious dermatology and frothy day spas. Most spas are relaxing and luxurious, she noticed, but not medically effective. On the other hand, dermatology yields great skin care, but medicine is a sterile experience.

The result: Dermalounge, a place where customers could find the efficacy of medicine and the luxury of a spa: a place where serious skin care would be fun.

Alvino found raising capital and assigning equity stakes more difficult than she’d imagined. But the venture is going now, and she offers these lessons to new leaders:
  1. Find something fun. It’s not a full-time job but a full-time life, so you’ve got to like it.

  2. Identify mentors. They’ve been there before.

  3. Listen to your investors. Smart people ask important questions.

  4. Hold the hard conversations early. Jump in and deal with emotional issues before everybody’s ideas become set in stone.

  5. Believe in yourself.
—Adapted from “Turning Battle Scars Into Beauty Spas,” Nicole Alvino, BusinessWeek Online,

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