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 What 3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Oprah and Her Recent Investment in Weight Watchers™

It was announced that the invincible powerhouse, Oprah Winfrey, purchased a 10% stake in weight loss giant, Weight Watchers, for about $43.2 million, with stock options to buy an additional 5% of diluted shares. She will become an advisor, joining the board of Weight Watchers; she will also participate in the program, and allow her image, name, and likeness to be used in endorsements and other programs. Stock prices doubled Monday in the wake of the Friday announcement. Although I have never personally tried Weight Watchers, and prefer to take a different approach, it is fascinating to look at Ms. Winfrey’s partnership through her eyes and begs the question – what does Oprah see?

The quick spike has been termed the “Oprah effect,” as many products she has even mentioned in the past have taken off with meteoric rise. Oprah is rated as the #4 celebrity for influence out of 3786, according to Omnicom Group, behind only Kate Middleton, Taylor Swift, and Bill Gates.   What Oprah, one of the wealthiest women in the world, sees, is that despite efforts to the contrary, people are gaining weight in epic proportions. From the vantage point of entrepreneurs, this is likely a smart move on Oprah’s part recognizing that waistlines are increasing.

Oprah has continually given throughout her career, from life lessons, to free products, to philanthropy. She has helped countless women – and people of both genders in general – to be more confident, be happier, and essentially, live a fuller and more balanced life. Here are a few things that every entrepreneur and businessperson can take away from Oprah’s recent purchase.

     Adding Value for Clients and Customers

More than most media mavens out there, Ms. Winfrey understands what her viewers and fans want – they want help. They want to be more confident, be happier with themselves and their lives, and achieve balance in life. With this acquisition, undoubtedly, Oprah is looking at another way to provide value to her audience, while at the same time considering profit as a businesswoman (currently, with the immediate stock rise, she gained about $50 million). Oprah is constantly bringing on guests to help her customers (the audience) with areas of their lives where there is struggle. She had Dr. Phil to help deal with psychological issues, Dr. Oz to help with overall health and medical questions, and Nate Berkus to help with home decoration and design. The list goes on and on, but the bottom line is that Oprah knows the value of having content relevant to her audience; by bringing leading experts to engage her audience and offer assistance in addressing their pain points, she has greatly added value to her customers.

Ask yourself where you can add more value to your followers, clients and customers? Is there an additional service you can offer, a topic you can write about, or an expert you can bring in to further create more benefit to those who are loyal to you?

     Strategic Partnerships

Not only has Oprah struggled with weight her entire career, but you can bet that she knows the numbers of exactly how many other people out there are fighting that same battle.

Oprah’s well-documented weight issues bring legitimacy to an industry giant that is struggling to regain its market share. Weight Watchers’ total revenue fell 19% from $1.84 billion in 2011 to $1.48 billion in 2014. With Oprah’s reach, advice, and endorsement, those numbers are more than likely to turn back around.

“Weight Watchers has given me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for.”

Oprah knows that when she does lose the weight, the impact for the company will be dramatic.   After all, according to some recent polls, 97% of people recognize Oprah, and she is constantly in front of the camera. Every media outlet in the world has her on the radar, and when she slims up, everyone will take notice. So, she has managed to set the stage for a mutually beneficial outcome; she will lose weight and feel better about herself, and both she and the company stand to make substantial profits.

Another constant theme in Oprah’s life is that of being extremely faithful to those in her inner circle (or MIPs, Most Important People). When her BFF, Gayle King, had started to see dramatic results with her Weight Watchers program, Oprah did what many of us would do — join our best friend and support each other. That, and drop over $42 million to buy part of the company.

As entrepreneurs, it is essential that we build strategic partnerships and also pay attention when someone we trust and care about is getting results with a product or service that could be competitive, or in this case, collaborative.

     Fuel Your Passion

Our lives have so much more meaning when we are able to engage in activities that we are passionate about. One of Oprah’s main tenets throughout her life has been one of helping others. Her philanthropic missions throughout her career are epic; she is constantly trying to improve the lives of her audience, and the world. By making this maneuver, Oprah will be looking to assist in helping her followers feel better about themselves. Oprah appears passionate about helping her viewers, and followers, live into better incarnations of themselves and has built a multi-billion dollar empire doing so.

As entrepreneurs we want to fuel our passions because at the end of the day, operating a business is going to take a great deal of time, effort and energy. If we are not passionate, we will lose our drive and focus. Ask yourself what you are passionate about and how you can create more business in those areas.

Susan Sly is a best selling author, speaker and entrepreneur. She has appeared on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime Television and the CBN. Susan is the mother of five children and resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.





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