Pat Boone and Pat Boone All-American Meats
Entrepreneurs know that starting a business means a lot of proverbial blood, sweat, tears — essentially a little bit of guesswork and a winning formula. Having a well-known name doesn’t hurt, either.
But, as these celebrities can tell you, being a famous business owner is a double-edged sword. While having a recognizable name may good for business, it also means their every move is likely to be scrutinized and their failures will be public. BusinessNewsDaily interviewed six celebrity business owners about how they’ve transitioned from acting the part to directing the business.
Legendary 1950s entertainment icon and political pundit Pat Boone put his money where his mouth is with his latest business venture, Pat Boone All-American Meats (PBAAM). PBAAM offers consumers home-delivered, premium-cut, U.S.-raised steaks. And true to Boone’s passion for charity, demonstrated through his 35 years devoted to confronting world hunger, PBAAM gives back. Five percent of every total purchase made through PBAAM directly funds organizations that help feed those in need.
Boone partly credits the inspiration for his latest venture to his late friend Paul Newman, who started the wildly successful “Newman’s Own” line. But, Boone is also a born entrepreneur. Just ten years old in Nashville, he sold bunches of flowers from his front yard. Later, he “tried selling Americana Encyclopedias as a teen, but only sold one… to my parents.” But he didn’t let that discourage him.
For the past 40 years, Boone has been involved in a range of businesses. Some were hits, and some misses.
“Quite often, I've been ahead of the curve and seen things I invested in fail, then succeed later when the time was more right,” said Boone. Some of his “premature” ventures have included battery-operated cars (25 years ago), flat-screen TVs, multiple menu fast-food chains, and owning sports teams.
In Boone’s view, being a celebrity and a businessman both require “attention, practical sense, openness to new approaches and a certain willingness to take risks.”
And of course, you need passion.
“I think there's a logical link between my music and Pat Boone All-American Meats. Both are outgrowths of my passions, and my natural inclinations,” said Boone. “I really would be very happy if future generations remember my name more for great steaks, good food and addressing human needs than for my music.”
Giuliana Rancic and FabFitFun
Jan. 12, 2011 was a big day for Giuliana Rancic. And not because some infamous celeb made a misstep. Rancic, the lead correspondent and managing editor of E! Entertainment Television, launched her website FabFitFun. The site offers readers a daily dose of smart, simple tips to help readers become their most fabulous selves.
While she’s known for reporting celebrity news, Rancic has reached celebrity status in her own right. In addition to her E! gig, she is an author and star of her own reality series – "Giuiliana & Bill" – with her husband, Bill Rancic, of “The Apprentice” fame.
Despite her entertainment industry success, Rancic said her latest venture was long time coming.
“I think there’s been an entrepreneur lurking inside me. I am always the one with a ton of different business ideas,” Rancic told BusinessNewsDaily. “The key is probably just separating the good from the bad.”
Rancic said the best part of owning FabFitFun is the response she gets from readers.
“People who read FabFitFun send us amazing feedback and really seem to getting something out of it - and that's very satisfying,” she said.
Suzanne Strudwick and Junior Golf AcademyONE
For Suzanne Strudwick, a retired Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) tour veteran and PGA tour member, starting her own business was a natural fit. After spending thirteen years on the LPGA circuit, Strudwick melded her love of golf with her other passion: teaching. In 2006, she founded GolfAcademyONE for golfers of all levels and ages. Realizing a niche need for junior golf instruction, she took launched the Junior Golf AcademyONE, positioning herself as one of the most innovative junior golf coaches in the country.
Strudwick finds satisfaction in building a successful business.
“Being in business with an accomplished business partner (Misty Mayes), I have learned so much and looking forward to growing. I also think building something is really important to me, and that is a big motivation,” said Strudwick.
Strudwick also acknowledged the undeniable link between the skills she carefully honed as a young athlete and her success as a business person.
“From a very young age, I developed the focus and discipline to play professional golf. You could even say that is all I understood because I had a very clear picture in my mind that I was going to play on the LPGA Tour in America, “ Strudwick told BusinessNewsDaily. “What has changed is the direction of that focus and discipline.”
Keegan Gerhard and d Bar Desserts
After working long, hard hours as pastry chefs in Las Vegas, he and his wife Lisa Bailey pushed their fears of failure and loss of security aside and made a life-changing decision.
“If we were going to continue to work as hard as we were it was not going to be for the benefit of someone else,” said Gerhard. In 2008, the pair opened d Bar Desserts, which they describe as “a destination dessert dining experience” in Denver.
While Gerhard’s celebrity may generate increased interest in d Bar, he admitted that the job can present challenges. Since he has been a Food Network personality for the past nine years, people can be more judgmental and come with higher expectations, he said.
But that isn’t entirely bad. Gerhard said that it pushes him and his team to always strive to do better. Additionally, his fame has challenged him to take d Bar Desserts out of the cult of celebrity, to create an identity and following all its own.
Gerhard credited both his business and culinary success to his competitive cycling roots, noting that it is that same drive that fuels the d Bar team daily.
“Our goal is to be the best at what we do. We constantly push ourselves, “he said. “No compromise in quality. There is always room for the best.”
Chuck Leavell and Mother Nature Network
Chuck Leavell, longtime keyboardist and musical director for the Rolling Stones and original member of the Allman Brothers Band, may seem an unlikely entrepreneur. But don’t judge a book by its (album) cover. In addition to being a rock legend, Leavell doubles as an environmental issues advocate and is the founder of environmentally-focusedwebsite Mother Nature Network (MNN). The world’s leading not-for-profit environmental site, MNN offers the “broadest scope of environmental and social responsibility issues on the Internet,” and hosted more than 19 million visitors in 2010.
While Leavell has long championed environmental issues, MNN was ironically inspired by corporate demand. At the time, his business partner Joel Babbit represented clients such as Dell and Coca-Cola, who were seeking an online venue in which they could communicate environmental messages. When Babbit’s search for an appropriate site came up short, he turned to Leavell. Both recognized the need for “a truly comprehensive site that covered all aspects of the environment. And we wanted it to be dependable, respected and credible. That’s Mother Nature Network,” said Leavell.
Citing one of his favorite entrepreneurial perks as having his own “real office ,” Leavell has always been fascinated by how companies are started, how they mature, how they evolve, he said.
And in many ways, being an entrepreneur is similar to the journey one goes through in an entertainment and music career, he said.
“It's not easy to climb the proverbial ladder, and even more of a challenge to stay on top once you’ve arrived,” he said.
Whether the job is music or business, Leavell recognized that it all comes down to persistence.
“You have to keep at it, be willing to change, willing to experiment, but also keep clear track of your mission and your goals. If you do, you stand a shot at leaving a legacy.”
Leavell will soon add author to his list of accomplishments, with the February release of his book “Growing a Better America.”