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The Bear Necessities of Business: Building a Company with Heart / Edition 1

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Build-A-Bear Workshop® is one of the most successful retailing concepts in recent history. Starting with just one location in 1997, the company now operates more than 200 stores worldwide.

Leading the way is Maxine Clark, the company's founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Bear. Clark is widely recognized as one of the nation's leading and most creative entrepreneurs. In The Bear Necessities of Business, she reveals how she built this amazing global business from the ground up, while arming you with the tools you need to start, run, and market your own company in today's tough competitive environment. While primarily drawing on real-life experiences from Build-A-Bear Workshop®, Clark also offers wisdom gained throughout her entire thirty-plus-year career, including lessons and examples from some of the other great companies that do so much right.

Straightforward and accessible, The Bear Necessities of Business is divided into seven parts, each built around an essential element that will allow you to stand apart from the crowd. The short, accessible chapters show you everything you need to:

  • Get your business started
  • Become a great boss
  • Connect with your customers
  • Add value to the overall experience
  • Effectively market your company
  • Plan for future growth
  • Give back to your customers, employees, and community

Best of all, these principles can be applied to any industry and are proven to work whether your target audience is children, teenagers, baby boomers, seniors, or any age in-between.

Whether you're looking to start a new business, improve an existing one, be a better manager, or hire the bestemployees, The Bear Necessities of Business contains the insights and information you need to succeed. Even if you work for some-one else and have no plans to strike out on your own, you'll still benefit from the advice found in this book. After all, the best employees—and those who consistently rise to the top—are those who think like entrepreneurs!

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In an age of dog-eat-dog businesses, Maxine Clark's Build-A-Bear Workshops give consumers a warm and fuzzy feeling. They offer an interactive, family-oriented and fun experience, instead of a numbing shopping routine. Clark describes her business philosophy thus: "I do believe that it takes a village to raise a bear. In order for anything to be successful it takes the work of many people. Impeccable implementation and attention to details is required." In The Bear Necessities of Business, she draws on her three decades of business experience to explain how she has built a kinder, gentler teddy bear nation. An imaginative small business tutorial.
Soundview Executive Book Summaries
A Fun Look At The Basics
Following a successful retail career as an executive with the May Department Stores and Payless Shoes, Maxine Clark opened her first Build-A-Bear Workshop concept store in a St. Louis mall in 1997. Today, the publicly traded company has more than 200 locations, and 750 full-time and 5,000 part-time staff around the world. More than 30 million guests (the company's term for customers) have made and outfitted teddy bears or other stuffed animals at a Build-A-Bear Workshop. The company is one of the United States' top 15 toy retailers, with annual sales of more than $350 million in 2005. That is why, despite the fact that The Bear Necessities of Business is a lighthearted and fun read, the advice within it deserves to be taken seriously.

An Irresistible Destination
Clark is the first to admit that her company didn't invent the teddy bear, only reinvented the process of buying one. She says her competition is more likely to be the local movie theater than a Toys "R" Us. By tapping into entertainment retailing trends, paying attention to unique touches such as packaging, and building a youth advisory committee that keeps her connected with her end-users, she has built an irresistible destination store for young families.

Starting Up and Making Connections
Clark cautions new entrepreneurs to beware of conventional wisdom and rely on their instincts. While impressing upon readers the need for sufficient capitalization, she also stresses the importance of thinking big and refusing to let one's ideas be dampened by financial realities or naysayers. She notes that taking risks and making mistakes provide an opportunity to learn some of the most important business lessons.

To rate customer experience, Clark often walks into one of her stores incognito and makes a bear to watch how staff interact with customers, instead of using secret shoppers. She stresses the importance of being available to customers, reading their communications and keeping as much information as possible on past purchases. Any customer can contact her via her e-mail addresses, which she includes in the book.

Using Essential Marketing Strategies
Stressing that a brand is a company's DNA, Clark advises entrepreneurs to begin to define their brand when they begin planning their businesses. She shows how to use the media effectively; discusses what kinds of advertising to choose for specific results; and shows how happy customers who talk about their experience can be the best, most cost-effective form of marketing. Clark also divulges her keys to growth:

  • Not straying too far from the demands of core customers.
  • Growing the business without compromise.
  • Choosing partners and vendors wisely.
  • Being prepared for the unimaginable.
  • Taking part in incessant innovation and hard work.

Giving Back to the Community
Build-A-Bear Workshops also provide a way to connect with local communities through children's hospitals and animal charities, as well as national groups such as the World Wildlife Federation. Believing that "good works are good business," Clark encourages other businesses to partner with charitable organizations and play a leadership role in their local communities. And she walks the talk: 100 percent of the proceeds of The Bear Necessities of Business are earmarked for the Build-A-Bear Hugs Foundation, which supports health and wellness causes as well as educational and literacy programs.

Why We Like This Book
Clark's "pawsitive" thinking - there's a generous sprinkling of the brand's "Bearisms" throughout the book - strikes the right tone of optimism and enthusiasm. Her "I've been there" approach inspires trust, and her information, based on both personal experience and common sense, should be welcome to all business owners, particularly those just starting out. Copyright © 2007 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471772750
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/21/2006
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 334
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Maxine Clark is the founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Bear of Build-A-Bear Workshop®. A veteran of the retail industry, she has been widely recognized for her innovative work and is regularly featured in the media. Clark spent more than twenty years with The May Department Stores Company and later served as president of Payless ShoeSource, which she turned into the number one seller of children's licensed footwear in the world. Since 1997, Clark has focused her attention on Build-A-Bear Workshop®, a retail store that lets customers create their own stuffed companions. The first store opened in 1997, and there are now more than 300 locations worldwide.

Amy Joyner is an award-winning business reporter who has written on entrepreneurship for many years. She is a small business expert as well as author of The eBay Millionaire, The eBay Billionaires' Club, and The Online Millionaire, all published by Wiley.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Part 1 Getting Started
Dream the Dream Supreme 9
Let a Child Inspire You 15
Do What You Love 19
Beware of Conventional Wisdom 24
Pour Your Heart Into It 29
Envision the Core User 34
Imagine Your Company from the Inside Out 40
It's All in the Details 45
Develop Strong Partnerships 50
Be Financially Secure 55
Put Your Plans in Writing 61
Make Investors Come to You 65
Part 2 Being a Great Boss
Show a Willingness to Do Any Job 75
Seek and Find Those Who Share Your Passion 79
Create a Fun Place to Work 83
Celebrate Mistakes with a Red Pencil Award 88
Respect Those Around You 93
Empower Your Employees to Contribute 99
Know What You Don't Know 104
Seek the Help of Outside Experts 110
Keep Score 116
Read, Act, and Share 121
Part 3 Connecting with Your Customers
See Yourself Through the Public's Eyes 127
Learn from Your Customers 131
Build an Advisory Board 137
Bring Out the Child in Everyone 143
Spending More Creates More Value 148
Don't Cater to All Audiences 151
Ensure That Each Person Feels Special 156
Answer Customer Letters 160
Part 4 Creating an Incredible Experience
Make First Impressions Last 167
Turn Every Day into a Holiday 173
Emulate the Five Pillars of Success 177
Keep Inventory in Check 182
Pay Attention to Packaging 187
Offer an Escape from the Ordinary 191
Part 5 Using Essential Marketing Strategies
Be a Great Brand 199
The Best Advertising Is Free 203
Target Your Pitches 208
Respond to the Media 214
Advertise Smart 221
Create Buzz 227
Use the Web Wisely 232
Embrace Viral Marketing 239
Part 6 Growing Your Business
1 + 1 = 10 247
Live in the Now ... and the Future 253
Learn from the Experiences of Others 257
Grow Without Compromise 262
Be Prepared for the Unimaginable 266
Innovate Incessantly 270
Speak in All Languages 274
Turn "No" into Your Own "Yes" 279
The Harder You Work, the Luckier You Get 284
Five Questions That Will Help Propel Your Business 288
Part 7 Giving Back
Good Works Are Good Business 297
Begin in Your Own Backyard 302
Share and Share Alike 307
Bearisms to Live and Work By 311
Acknowledgments 315
About the Authors 319
Index 321
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2006

    Excellent Business Advice

    Despite the clever title and cover, this book is really filled with solid advice about all aspects of starting and running a successful business. Maxine Clark shares her specific strategies for everything from writing a business plan to getting good PR to hiring and retaining top employees. I highly recommend this for every aspiring entrepreneur. It's very inspirational and loaded with practical guidance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2006

    This is not JUST a book for business folks!

    This is a great gift idea for anyone graduating from high school or college! I love to read books about business, but this book is so much more than a business-how-to book - It is a guide for how to live your life. The 'heart' behind Build-a-Bear is definitely Maxine Clark.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2010

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