I was surprised when I read recently that Napoleon Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich” said that he looked at all the great entrepreneurs, and the one thing he found is that they all had a huge sex drive. On the business side, we all know that the sex industry is rife with entrepreneurs, so I wonder if there is a connection?
Implying a connection may be an over-simplification of Hill’s classic, but his chapter on “The Mystery of Sex: Transmutation” certainly goes into some depth about how the energy of the libido is often channeled by successful people to focus on achieving specific goals, creative, political, entrepreneurial or otherwise.
All this, and Hill wasn’t even writing about the entrepreneurs who founded and run businesses in the “exotic erotic” category. Considering that passion has always been a much vaunted trait for the founders of successful startups, it’s not hard to see a sublimated sexual drive at work.
In case you are assuming that this is an all male domain, a University of California survey not too long ago says that 70% of women check out pornography, 17% of women are addicted to pornography, and 13% of women check out pornography at work. And the number of women entrepreneurs in this industry is growing rapidly.
Let’s focus for a moment on the business elements of the porn industry, and what other industry startups and entrepreneurs might be able to learn from them. The underlying principle of any business -- whether it be online or offline -- is to build a business model that successfully generates revenue while limiting expenses.
In fact, this is one of the critical points to remember about the sex industry. You may not like the product it sells, but the fact is, the model used by the online pornography business is a proven commodity. For a very long time, pornography has proven to be successful in the offline world.
Online, the Internet is all about technology and using it effectively. And no one group has contributed more to refining Internet technologies than the porn industry. Developments in content creation, communications delivery, e-commerce, and security each underwent a trial by fire within the porn industry.
In the case of some technologies, such as streaming video, pornography delivery was one of the only initial places for its application. Not only did online porn entrepreneurs utilize some of these technologies, but they also understood their limitations and their business ramifications.
Successful porn entrepreneurs have pioneered new approaches to get people to give their credit card numbers and to visit their sites enough times to keep providing revenue. They introduced multiple interrelated web sites, cross-targeting, and exit interstitials well before any other online segment.
Although the online pornography industry has many helpful business practices for us to examine, it also has some bad business practices: things like spamming incessantly, having a billion exit interstitials on a site so it is impossible for someone to ever leave, and misleading people with "free" offers that still require payment via a credit card.
On top of all this, it turns out the adult entertainment industry is pretty much recession proof. Makes you wonder what kinds of innovations are going to flow down to us in the near future.
But I digress. Let’s get back to the concept of sex and the entrepreneur. You might assume that Hill’s concept of channeling sexual energy or ‘transmutation’ is a recent one, but he first published his classic book back in 1937, during the Great Depression.
Hmmm. I guess we all should take comfort in the fact that even though we live in a world of constant change, some things will always be the same.