A Comprehensive Review of “Take a Chance!: 101 Entrepreneurial Lessons for Making it Big” by Larry Gaynor

Larry Gaynor’s book, “Take a Chance!: 101 Entrepreneurial Lessons for Making it Big,” serves as a comprehensive guide for aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs. Drawing from his extensive experience as the founder and CEO of TNG Worldwide, Gaynor offers a candid and practical look at the realities of starting and growing a business. The book is designed to provide valuable insights and actionable advice for navigating the often-tumultuous journey of entrepreneurship.

The Realities of Entrepreneurship

The book opens with a stark reminder of the challenges inherent in entrepreneurship. Statistics reveal that 70% of businesses fail within the first five years, and only 25% survive beyond 15 years. These numbers underscore the difficulty of building a sustainable business. Gaynor does not shy away from these harsh realities but instead uses them to set the stage for the practical wisdom he shares throughout the book.

A Journey Spanning Over 50 Years

Gaynor’s entrepreneurial journey began in 1985 with the founding of TNG Worldwide. His experience spans more than five decades, during which he has navigated numerous challenges and opportunities. From starting as a retailer and transitioning to a wholesale distributor, to becoming a manufacturer and navigating the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gaynor’s story is one of resilience and adaptability.

Key Lessons and Insights

“Take a Chance!” is structured around 101 key lessons that Gaynor has learned throughout his career. These lessons are not theoretical musings but practical advice grounded in real-world experience. They cover a broad range of topics essential for entrepreneurial success.

1. Embracing Change and Taking Risks

One of the central themes of the book is the necessity of embracing change and taking calculated risks. Gaynor shares how he made the tough decision to shut down his successful $5 million retail store to focus on becoming a wholesale distributor. This pivot was not easy, but it was crucial for the long-term success of his business. Gaynor’s experience highlights the importance of being willing to change direction when the situation demands it.

2. Navigating Relationships with Big Corporations

Gaynor has worked with some of the well-known startups in the industry. These relationships are fraught with challenges, from being cut off by suppliers to facing threats to sell his company. Gaynor provides insights into how to navigate these complex relationships and maintain leverage, even when dealing with industry giants.

3. The Power of Gallup-Training

A significant turning point for TNG Worldwide was undergoing Gallup-training, which fundamentally changed the company’s culture. This training focuses on leveraging employees’ strengths, leading to higher productivity and morale. Gaynor discusses how this cultural shift was instrumental in driving the company’s success and provides guidance on how other businesses can implement similar practices.

4. The Pivot to Manufacturing

Another critical pivot in Gaynor’s journey was the transition from being a distributor to becoming a manufacturer. This move required substantial investment and risk, particularly during the uncertainty of the pandemic. Gaynor explains the strategic reasons behind this shift and the benefits it brought to the company, including greater control over product quality and supply chain.

5. The Importance of E-Commerce and Amazon

In today’s digital age, e-commerce plays a vital role in business success. TNG Worldwide’s status as an Amazon Top 200 Reseller is a testament to the importance of online sales channels. Gaynor shares strategies for succeeding on platforms like Amazon, emphasizing the need for excellent customer service, competitive pricing, and effective marketing.

Lessons from the Pro Beauty Business

Gaynor also delves into the specifics of the professional beauty business, sharing lessons learned from both the rise and fall of this segment. He discusses market trends, consumer behavior, and the impact of economic fluctuations on the beauty industry. These insights are valuable for entrepreneurs in any sector, as they illustrate the importance of staying attuned to market dynamics and being prepared to adapt.

Practical Advice for Entrepreneurs

Throughout the book, Gaynor provides practical advice that entrepreneurs can apply immediately. Here are a few standout lessons:

  • Know When to Pivot: The ability to pivot, whether it’s changing business models or entering new markets, is crucial for long-term success. Gaynor’s decision to transition from retail to wholesale and then to manufacturing exemplifies this principle.
  • Leverage Strengths: Investing in employee development and focusing on their strengths can transform a company’s culture and performance. Gallup-training played a pivotal role in TNG’s success.
  • Build Resilience: Entrepreneurship is fraught with setbacks. Building resilience and learning from failures are essential for overcoming challenges and continuing to grow.
  • Understand the Market: Keeping a close eye on market trends and consumer preferences allows businesses to stay relevant and competitive.
  • Foster Strong Relationships: Whether dealing with suppliers, partners, or customers, building and maintaining strong relationships is key to business success.

Real-World Examples

Gaynor enriches his lessons with real-world examples from his own experiences. These anecdotes provide context and make the advice more relatable and actionable. For instance, he recounts the challenges of being cut off by suppliers and how he navigated these crises, offering practical tips for maintaining supply chain stability.

The Importance of Community and Giving Back

Beyond business strategies, Gaynor emphasizes the importance of community engagement and philanthropy. He and his wife, Teresa, have supported various initiatives, including the construction of the Pavilion and Entrepreneurial Lab at Michigan State University and sponsorship of the American Cancer Society STRIDES event. These efforts reflect a commitment to giving back and building a legacy beyond the business.

“Take a Chance!: 101 Entrepreneurial Lessons for Making it Big” by Larry Gaynor is a valuable resource for entrepreneurs at any stage of their journey. The book offers a wealth of practical advice, grounded in decades of real-world experience. Gaynor’s insights into embracing change, navigating complex relationships, leveraging strengths, and staying attuned to market trends provide a comprehensive guide for building and sustaining a successful business.

Gaynor’s journey with TNG Worldwide demonstrates that entrepreneurship requires resilience, adaptability, and a willingness to take risks. By sharing his story and the lessons he has learned, Gaynor provides a roadmap for aspiring entrepreneurs to follow, helping them navigate the challenges of starting and growing a business.