“Don’t let anyone discourage you and see your idea through to the finish line — and try to stay as true to your vision as humanly possible,” Alba said during a keynote address at the QuickBooks Connect 2015 conference in San Jose Tuesday.
Alba and Honest Company CEO Brian Lee shared a smattering of insights during the talk. Here are some of the lessons they’ve learned from running their company together.
Partnership is like marriage.
Lee, who also cofounded LegalZoom.com and ShoeDazzle.com, said that he and Alba rely on complementary strengths to run the company, a setup that moderator and business motivational speaker Bill Rancic noted is not unlike that of a married couple.
“When I started to work with Jessica, I started to realize very, very quickly that she was, like, in business terms, the yin to my yang,” said Lee. He said Alba oversees “the softer side of business,” which he defined as creative aspects of the company such as marketing.
Lee, whom Alba met through her husband, rejected Alba’s first pitch to launch The Honest Company together. Alba’s brainchild is now valued at $1.7 billion.
Surround yourself with smart people.
You need to take criticism into account while crafting a pitch or otherwise pushing the business forward, said Alba. Work on attracting the right people to develop your startup. “Let them poke holes in your business plan and refine it.”
Draw the line at your vision, though. If capital or a new partner comes with strings attached, you may be better off without the funding or expertise. If someone comes in and changes the vision of the company, “then you’re not going to be happy at the end of the day.”
Reward your early employees by hiring more people.
When it’s time to grow, it’s time to grow. The initial few who got your business moving won’t continue to be productive if they have to take on new work in perpetuity, said Alba. Hire more people so staffers can go home at night.
“The happier they are, the better and more productive they are at work,” said Alba.