Found successfully in the footsteps of Coco Chanel

What makes traders successful is one of those questions that are answered like winning the lottery. Entrepreneurship has many facets, as the Coco Chanel study shows. However, some factors can be generalized and transferred.

Most people have heard of a little black dress and a perfume named after the number five. Both – the universal black dress in which women are always well dressed, and the unique fragrance – are inventions of Gabrielle Bonheur Chasnel. The French designer took the nickname “Coco” and became the most influential fashion designer of the 20th century, abandoning the corset and drastically shortening her skirts. Even today, fashion from House of Chanel stands for elegant and exclusive haute couture.

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10/01/2021 | people and companies

Entrepreneurs and achievements

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The fact that Coco Chanel was driving an emancipatory attitude made her fashion suitable for women. But the designer is also a role model as an entrepreneur from whom company founders and managing directors can learn. This shows a study co-authored by researchers from Bayes Business School, the Stern School of Business, and the University of Bologna.

Coco Chanel’s entrepreneurial journey

The topic of the analysis is that despite the lack of social, economic and symbolic capital, the orphan Coco Chanel has managed to make a big impact as an entrepreneur in the business world. Study published in the journal Enterprise & Society? published as an open access article entitled “From the Margins to the Core of Haute Couture: The Entrepreneurial Journey of Coco Chanel” defines the model of successful entrepreneurship:

Outsiderstwo is a catalyst for innovation: Various studies show this, as well as the example of Coco Chanel, who lacked formal education and training in a fashion house when she entered the male-dominated world of haute couture. Social position helps outsiders to “implement ingenious projects that deviate from the prevailing social norms”, but at the same time makes it difficult for them to gain support and recognition for them.

Social networking sites are a success factor: Strategic collaborations and alliances with representatives of high society or artists such as Pablo Picasso helped Chanel’s projects become known. They could be seen in theatrical performances, ballets and films, and they provided the designer with the necessary PR. Thus, Chanel transformed socio-cultural capital into economic capital, the study concludes. So the fashion designer secured the symbolic capital she needed to improve her status and visibility, all the factors needed to start and run her business.

Hit the nerves of the spirit of the time: After the experiences of World War I, Coco Chanel knew how to design clothes that were simple and functional, thus meeting the needs of a modern, middle-class, independent and working woman.

Simone Ferriani, professor of entrepreneurship and innovation at Bayes University and co-author of historical analysis, concluded from these factors that non-industry entrepreneurs should not be discouraged from defying established structures and attitudes, even if they have references, connections and seem to lack financial resources . It is still possible to move from an outsider to an insider.

Approaches to entrepreneurship research

Scientists try to determine in different ways what makes entrepreneurs successful. In research on entrepreneurship, approaches focus primarily on questions about the traits and characteristics of founders. “Entrepreneurship refers to certain characteristics and activities such as creativity, innovation, entrepreneurial initiative and economic risk taking. It describes those forms of entrepreneurship that are the main drivers of economic development, ”define Michael Fritsch and Michael Wyrwich in the chapter of the book“ The Role of Entrepreneurship in Business and Society ”(page 2).

Psychological research focuses on certain personality traits that are particularly noticeable in entrepreneurs, in line with the chapter on entrepreneurial skills of founders. Unlike qualifications, which change with learning, the structure of personality traits remains relatively stable after a certain age, according to Fritsch and Wyrwich. Consequently, a successful startup is fostered by the following personality traits:

  • the ability to take risks,
  • creativity,
  • trust,
  • proactive willingness to act,
  • internal locus of control,
  • personal responsibility,
  • the strength of the achievement motive,
  • resistance to stress.

Both economists explain that these personality traits arise as a result of upbringing and socialization, career and experience choices, social environment and role models. The realization that entrepreneurial skills are partly shaped by social conditions meant that they could be influenced.

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