Wayne Beckley is a self made man whose multi-million dollar skin care company, Merlot, had its beginnings through experimentation in his kitchen. Not only is Beckley now a successful businessman, he also lives a healthy lifestyle. Merlot is a family run company, a characteristic aspect Beckley is proud of. In this Q & A, Beckley shares his background, inspiration and tips for success.
QUESTION: You are now the CEO of a multi-million dollar company, Merlot Skincare, a product developer, marketer and a chemist. In college, was the plan always to become an entrepreneur?
Beckley: I guess being an entrepreneur was always in my blood as I never wanted to work for someone else. Seems I always had a very innovative brain which has always identified "niches" in various areas. I think there is a certain amount of God given talent that I was born with.
Q: You've created other products such as Kolor Key (a car wax in colors), Super Shine (household cleaner) and License Lock (a lock for license plates). All of these products are varied but successful. What is your creative process?
Beckley: [It’s] hard to explain but I cannot walk down any aisle of supermarket, drugstore, etc. without seeing ideas for new products (that don't exist). Whenever I do think there is an opportunity for a new product then I move quickly. Many people think of new ideas but don't move to develop them and therefore someone else beats them to market with it.
Q: While other products have taken off, none have reached the prosperity of Merlot. How did this product line reach success?
Beckley: Actually, Merlot was discovered by mistake, as most inventions are. I never had any intentions of getting into the cosmetic industry, however, while having a glass of red wine and having read research about drinking red wine, and its health benefits, I began to wonder what effects grapes could have on the skin. After all, wine comes from grapes and grapes comes from the seeds. I found out indeed, the grape seeds possess immense power--25 percent more powerful than Vitamin C and 50 percent more powerful than Vitamin E. So I proceeded into the skin care industry with the grapes seeds being my "niche".
Q: Many Merlot products include natural ingredients such as apple and cucumber in addition to grape-seed extract. Why is using natural ingredients important regarding skincare?
Beckley: We try to use as many natural ingredients as possible. Consumers now are very interested as to what's in their products and concerned about what they put on their skin. Much of what you put on your skin can eventually get into your bloodstream.
Q: Your family (wife and children) are all heavily involved with Merlot. The fact the company is largely operated by your entire family is a unique aspect. Why is it important your family stays involved?
Beckley: The family that plays together, stays together! I've been very fortunate that each member of my family is qualified in their area of expertise. There are certain things that each member does, that other members may not be as good at. Each person has a particular talent which is very important and we work together very well. We are a team and at the end of the day, we all share the common goal of being successful.
Q: As an entrepreneur, it can be thrilling to see a wild idea or whim pay off. However, not all ideas turn into multi-million dollar businesses. What has failure taught you over the years?
Beckley: I have started 13 businesses in my life and successful in 12 of them. I've always said there is no such thing as failure if you have tried. It’s important to learn from things that have not gone well for you. I certainly have had ideas that I turned into products that were less than successful. However, I've never considered those failures, because I tried.
Q: How do you continue to grow your various businesses, after initial success?
Beckley: Trying to grow a business is an everyday process, as changes occur daily. You could have a major chain of stores for an account (doing millions in business) and the next day they could decide to drop you or change to another vendor. It is very important to have a very wide range of different markets, i.e., social media, small accounts, foreign distributors, and etc.
Q: I am sure you have some more ideas in the mix. Can you give us any hints about what we might expect as future products in the works?
Beckley: Yes, I always have new ideas. However, I never move to one of them if it means diverting money or attention as I firmly believe in "staying the course" to make a business work. [But] in regards to new ideas, of course I am always thinking about new cosmetic products to develop--while staying within my industry.
Q: After years of experience, what are some tips on being a successful entrepreneur ?
- Follow through on your ideas. If you don’t make it happen, someone else will.
- Don’t do it for the money. Think in terms of being successful. If you’re successful, the money will follow.
- Stay focused. It’s very easy to lose interest or find another idea to chase.
- Be willing to take a risk. An entrepreneur is most always a gambler which is important. However, being a calculated gambler is more important.
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