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The Next Oprah?


Yesterday marked a melancholy milestone for our great city, as one of our all-time icons completed the final live taping of her show after a record-setting, culture-changing 25-year run (actually closer to 28 years, if you include her “AM Chicago” days when she built that show from obscurity to #1 before renaming it after herself).

Millions of people have followed, admired and adored Oprah Winfrey over the years, and one can’t help but marvel at her rags-to-riches, self-made success.

But there are a few sharp small business owners who do more than just marvel. We study just what Oprah has done to make one of the biggest Quantum Leaps of all time, raising herself from a troubled, poverty-filled childhood to becoming one of the richest, most-admired and most-influential people in the world.

And while we may never become anywhere near the cultural phenomenon that Oprah is, it is actually very possible for ever small business owner to become as much of a superstar — in our own niche.

One of the keys, of course, is first to select a narrow, precision-targeted niche market for ourselves – one where we have the potential to make a big splash, like a kid jumping in a puddle as opposed to spitting into the ocean. I’ll cover that concept in a future post…

But the real breakthrough comes when we make a study of business successes and examine the strategies and tactics they used to make themselves great, and then figure out ways to apply those exact same strategies and tactics to our own businesses.

And that cannot be accomplished simply by doing what the overwhelming majority of business owners do: looking for examples only from within their own industry.

The real breakthrough – in fact, I call it the third Quantum Leap – that a business owner can make, is to invoke the rule of transference, to look outside the norms of our own industry for successful ideas and concepts to introduce into our own particular situations.

So the sharp business owner makes a study of the biggest keys to Oprah’s unprecedented success, including her relentless self-promotion, her insistence on doing things her way, her authenticity and her willingness to openly share her “private” life with her followers, and then thinks of ways to implement those in our own business.

It’s likely that none of your current competitors are using these strategies. It’s much more likely that everyone in your field – including you – is seen by your prospects as “just another _____”, as cookie-cutter, blur-of-sameness choices (or lack of choices) to do business with. Is that really how you want to be thought of?

Oprah may have made incremental gains, but she would certainly never have made the Quantum Leap to become the all-time success story that she is by simply looking around at other talk show hosts and copying what they did – or even by doing the same things they did, only slightly better. No – she made her Quantum Leap by introducing into the realm of daytime talk shows strategies never before seen in that industry.

And every small business owner can use that same concept to become #1 in our own niche. In fact, that’s what all consumers are desperately hoping for: someone to step up and become The Obvious Choice to solve their problems.

Oprah overcame all of her seemingly-insurmountable obstacles to become #1 in her field. In the process, she left behind very clear clues to just how she did it. So the question is: Will you follow her proven blueprint for success and implement it in your business?

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