Quotes from Chairwoman Oprah: Mistakes Made in StartUp Business

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Execution is the Name of the Game

I’ve reposted below a link to the video interview with Oprah from CBS This Morning, April 2, 2012, and transcribed Oprah’s quotes which point out some of the business basics in starting a new venture.  As Oprah says, “If I Was Writing a Book About It, I might have called it 101 Mistakes”–Oprah on “CBS This Morning”, April 2, 2012

No Time Like the Right Time:

“Top error was launching when we really weren’t ready to launch.  I probably should have waited until I finished the Oprah Winfrey show”.

On Failure and the Pivot:

“Because you failed at something–which we haven’t failed– but because you failed does not make you a failure.  And when you know that in the core of yourself, you can keep trying or you can use whatever is happening at that moment to say ‘maybe I need to move in a new direction’.”

On Layoffs:

“The worst thing that happened was that we had to lay off 30 people.”

It Takes a Group, Not Just One Person:

“My –our, because no one does this by themselves–strategy is to build one show, one hour at a time.”

Even an Oprah Startup isn’t an Overnight Sensation:

“Everything takes time”

Oprah Winfrey offered some well-earned wisdom on a startup business during her appearance on “CBS This Morning” on Monday, April 2.  It was a well-covered event, including a fine recap of it by Carole Roth in the Huffington Post. Needless to say, Oprah’s cable network, OWN, is still in the throes of building an audience and creating a sustainable business.  But as the quotes above illustrate, Oprah knows now that her startup was not a business, it was an opportunity to find a business, and she recognizes that she wasn’t ready to launch OWN when she did, and also, although she doesn’t use the world “pivot,” she does realize that when something is not working, you move in a new direction.

As Oprah now realizes, although there was plenty of buzz when the Oprah Winfrey Network was launched, she wasn’t ready at the time of the announcement to dedicate herself to the nitty-gritty work of programming the network.  She made so many errors, she just spoke of the five major ones in her appearance on CBS This Morning, but it appears that there wasn’t sufficient know-how in place in advance, and they burned through a lot of capital in learning how to operate a cable network.

In case you missed it, here is the video of Oprah discussing the problems.  It takes time (years) for a startup business to find an audience and sustain a dependable business model, and here’s Oprah to fill in the rest:

Apologies for the commercial intro, the OWN interview subject starts at 1:40 mark:




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