From Gloves to Grills: How George Foreman Built His Empire
Business Solutions During the peak of his career, heavyweight legend George Foreman helped define professional boxing. Today, he is still using the lessons he learned in the ring to drive a multi-billion dollar business. Here’s how he did it.
Opportunities and Challenges for Small Business Owners
Stephanie Bush, Executive Vice President of Small Commervial, The Hartford
Share an out of the box tip for the entrepreneur starting a small business?
Your business is a reflection of your personal brand and it’s important to build your brand from Day 1 – even before you open your business.Never underestimate the power it has. It represents:
How your customers will know you.
How you pursue your goals, deliver on your commitments and contribute to your community.
Who you surround yourself with and turn to for support.
What is the biggest challenge facing small businesses today?
Prospective entrepreneurs need to be supported as they bring their ideas to the marketplace, whether with financing, talent or expertise. There are so many complex responsibilities unrelated to their central business objective – how can they take that leap with confidence? For many small business owners, their business is their passion, their life’s work and their most important financial asset, yet too many don’t find the solid infrastructure they need in order to succeed.
In what way has the insurance industry helped small businesses overcome that challenge?
Our industry is an important part of a small business’ infrastructure. It begins with understanding the needs of small businesses and developing products and services that are responsive to those needs. We continuously evaluate our insurance products to ensure they help protect businesses against both established and emerging risks. And we work closely with one of a small business owner’s most trusted advisors – their insurance agent – to help the client purchase the right policy to protect their most valuable asset, their business.
In 1994, at the age of 45, Foreman became boxing’s oldest heavyweight champion after defeating 26-year-old Michael Moorer. He argued that his success was due to healthy eating, which made him a perfect fit for Salton, Inc., who was looking for a spokesperson for its fat-reducing grill.
Foreman recalls acting as a sponge his first few years in business, absorbing as much information from his peers as possible. “At first I was afraid to ask questions, so I just listened. I listened to everything that I could,” he recalls. “I learned everything I know just by paying attention to people around me.”
To date, more than 100 million George Foreman Lean Mean Grilling Machines have been sold worldwide — transforming what was once a small business into a global empire.
“Small business is what moves this country,” Foreman states. He’s right — according to a recent survey by the U.S. Small Business Administration, there are 28.8 million small businesses in the United States, which account for 99.7 percent of all business in the country. “If you learn to sell, you will never starve.”
Fight for success
Recently, Foreman capitalized on his entrepreneurial success by endorsing InventHelp, the company responsible for INPEX (Invention and New Product Exposition), America's largest invention trade show. His advice for new entrepreneurs struggling to absorb the punches of starting a new business? Lace your gloves and put up a fight.
“In boxing, you might make the first round, you might get knocked down, or you might get booed, but it doesn’t mean that you give away the fight,” he explains. “That’s the way it is in business. You knock on a hundred doors — maybe the door will slam in your face, but if you keep knocking, one will eventually open up.”