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Business Lessons Learned from J.K. Rowling

February 18, 2014 | Valerie Wong

The English author known as J.K. Rowling was able to successfully succeed as a writer despite many obstacles before her. Fantasy is a highly saturated and congested genre filled with many past and modern-day classics that it's hard to be able to capture the imagination of youths who'd rather play video games than to pick up a book. Many publishers aren't interested in a woman writing books made for boys either, which essentially forced Joanne "Jo" Rowling to change her pen name to J.K. Rowling to make it more gender neutral. The Harry Potter series, her masterpiece franchise, was also the very first book she wrote and had published.

What Is the Secret Behind Rowling's Success?

Become a go-to person by doing an important thing or making a great product no one else could. That was what J.K. Rowling was able to do with her seven Harry Potter novels. Her inspiring rise to fame and fortune came about because, of course, she was passionate about her work. She was also able to establish a huge fan base that allowed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows—her final book in the series—to become the fastest-selling book of all time. She has a worth of about $1 billion at age 46, but she then turned into a "mere" millionaire after she donated most of her money to charity.

She's also the first person to become a billionaire by writing books. Many entrepreneurs and authors alike are curious regarding her secret, but she's hardly the overnight success that the press and the mass media are portraying her to be. She was a divorced worker during 1990, working as a bilingual secretary and a researcher for Amnesty International. Her mother just died and she was a single mom, at that. How did she go from "barely hanging on" mother to celebrated author? It's all about not rushing her product. She was able to capture the imagination of a whole generation of children by taking her sweet time in perfecting Harry Potter.

Success Is Not About Destiny, It's About Choices and Making the Right Ones

Destiny is a lie. Destiny is hindsight bias mistaking an invisible force that guides you through the action and luck towards greatness when you have more control over your fate and circumstances than you realize. J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter wouldn't have been the billion-dollar success and franchise juggernaut it would've been had Jo Rowling not taken her sweet time in perfecting its formula. She wrote two novels before writing Harry Potter, and even though her masterpiece is her first official work, he never had her real trial runs published. She didn't rush; she waited until she got good enough to make a worthwhile end product.

Small business owners should rush out products before its time, or else they'll end up with disasters like E.T. the video game or New Coke. Grab a great idea and never let go. If you have enough nerve, you'll start thinking (rightfully so) that anything is possible. Businessmen, most of all, are risk takers, so much so that there are times when they need to be reminded to only take calculated risks. If you were to come upon a great idea that makes you have trouble sleeping at night, like Rowling's take on a coming-of-age story, then grab the bull by the horns and go for it.

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