Three things I learned at Goldman Sachs that helped me launch my own company

Think of it more like a career transition than a makeover.
Think of it more like a career transition than a makeover.
Image: AP Photo/Andre Penner
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Nancy Twine grew up making her grandmother’s recipes for soaps and hair care products developed on a West Virginia farm.

Fifteen years later, she’s abandoned her job as a vice president at Goldman Sachs to create a natural hair care line called Briogeo, which will soon be sold at Sephora.

Much of what she learned on starting her business comes from her seven years at Goldman, where she helped corporations manage price exposures to corn or natural gas. “You can’t skip out on paying your dues,” she told Quartz. “Working in a good corporate structure really does give you the tools… to run your own business.”

She believes recent college graduates may be better off in a corporate job for a few years even if they know they want to launch a startup. “Learn to be professional,” and figure out a great idea to pursue, she suggests.

Here are some other lessons Twine has learned in transitioning from the corporate world to launching her own business:

Start early

Most days, Twine is up and working at her home-office by 5:30am.  “I wake up early and get started before everyone else,” before emails and calls start coming in, she says. “That gives me three and a half hours to field the stuff that matters the most.”

Her day is more packed with myriad tasks, from accounting to marketing and “until a month ago, I was shipping everything myself,” she noted. Now she’s hired someone part-time to pack and send shampoos and hair care products. Even though she used to hate reminders and to-do lists, she uses them to track her task and high priority projects. She learned this the hard way when she missed a deadline for a write-up in a major magazine.

Frugality pays off

After her mother died a few years ago, Twine realized she was on her own, and wanted enough money to support herself even if she were laid off. So she started saving money, and after about five years at Goldman, her “personal protection cushion” fund grew a second purpose: business startup funds. Twine worked at Goldman for two more years and put aside more money for her business. She’s had some angel funding but a lot has come from her own savings.

She manages the business from her studio apartment in New York City, and while she’s the only full-time staffer, she has a part-timer, a few unpaid interns (who earn college credit), and several contract designers and developers working on her brand. “I can get so much done without hiring someone full-time,” she said.

Show your enthusiasm

Twine didn’t know anyone in the beauty business when she started. Once she told people about her grandmother’s legacy and her passion for making natural hair care products, they became interested. “Let your passion shine through,” she learned, and you are more likely to connect you to the right people.

She saw this when a drug store seemed uninterested in her hair care products until they heard her story about her grandmother and family recipes. Then they decided to give it a try, she said.

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