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Defining Moments

Get to the top with Mycoskie's 5 tips

  • Story Highlights
  • Blake Mycoskie had launched four other start-ups before creating TOMS
  • He ran the shoe company out of his apartment in the early days
  • The business has since scaled tremendously and gives away shoes worldwide
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Blake Mycoskie founded TOMS Shoes in 2006. The socially responsible company aims to provide impoverished children with shoes in a sustainable way.

Blake Mycoskie says he pursued his vision for TOMS Shoes with "reckless ambition."

Blake Mycoskie says he pursued his vision for TOMS Shoes with "reckless ambition."

The California-based entrepreneur shares some of the lessons he learned along the way.

Follow these tips and you too could launch the next big thing.

Follow your passion

Despite having no background in fashion, Mycoskie relentlessly pursued his vision for TOMS.

"I had absolutely no experience in shoes or fashion so I approached the business how I have done everything in my life, and that's with reckless ambition," he says.

He set out to learn how to make shoes and often spent weekends peddling the shoes to L.A.'s trendy spots in the early days of the company -- an effort that paid off.

Establish smart partnerships

Partnerships are critical to spreading the TOMS model and creating a global brand that's known for giving, according to Mycoskie.

He wants other firms to realize they can establish a "one-for-one" giving model through partnerships "instead of reinventing the wheel themselves."

His goal is to expand the TOMS model and work with "other great companies out there that are already doing great products."

Be flexible in your thinking

Mycoskie wanted to provide children in need with shoes, but was concerned a charity would not be sustainable.

He could raise money from his friends and family, but worried about what would happen if his donors decided to contribute to another cause one year.

But he found a solution by blending philanthropy with business.

He says: "I thought to myself, 'Okay, how can I guarantee these kids that they'll have shoes over and over again?'''

"The only way I could guarantee that was to start a business."

Know when to move on

One of his early ventures was a 24/7 reality TV channel, which he started up after appearing on "The Amazing Race."

But two years after launching, the company faced stiff competition from media titan Rupert Murdoch.

"That really taught me a valuable lesson in business: Even if you have a great idea, the market is there and the market is right," Mycoskie says.

He ended up shutting down the network, Reality Central, after realizing he couldn't compete with such a large player.

"You really have to look at who your competitors are. You can't compete with the biggest guy. The biggest guy has the ability to shut you down -- it's a really risky proposition."

Experience pays off

Mycoskie had already started four other businesses by the time he got the idea for TOMS.

He says the experience of running those companies helped prepare him for the rapid growth of TOMS.

"I think all my entrepreneurial experience and background kind of was trained for this one moment when this gigantic idea would explode."

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