Wanting something different out of life and prepared to go out on a limb for it, JR Ridinger, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Market America Worldwide | SHOP.COM, began his entrepreneurial journey when he was studying to become a marine biologist. He was captivated by the ocean and fascinated with its delicate balance of ecosystems and organisms.
“My studies involved some travel and I got to see new places and experience new things in the process. On one trip, we ended up sailing past some utterly spectacular seaside mansions,” Ridinger said. He came to discover that these were the homes of entrepreneurs, and it lit a fire inside him to pursue entrepreneurship as a way of life. It really is a way of life — not the same as a traditional career.
Although Ridinger was on his way to becoming a scientist, he applied his analytical mindset to his business endeavors as well and, along with his incredible wife Loren, founded Market America in 1992. In addition to her role as Co-Founder & Senior Executive Vice President, Loren subsequently founded Market America’s Motives® cosmetics line in 2008, empowering beauty lovers worldwide to build their own beauty businesses.
For years, Ridinger thought about the traditional marketing sector’s benefits, drawbacks, dangers, blunders and misconceptions. He had many fledgling ideas regarding how to address many of these problems. With Loren’s encouraging passion and practical advice, Ridinger fine-tuned his ideas and saw them take shape. The couple then surrounded themselves with a corporate team of forward thinkers and trailblazers to further strengthen their foundation. “The rest, as they say, is history,” added Ridinger.
Within the past year, Market America has provided all of its global distributors, known as UnFranchise® Owners (UFOs), with access to a shoppable livestreaming platform called SHOP LIVE™ that is available in an app. With SHOP LIVE, UFOs now have a personalized shopping channel that makes marketing and retailing even more convenient and effective.
Another new endeavor mentioned by Ridinger is the addition of BitPay to Market America’s payment method options. More than 10 types of cryptocurrency are now accepted via BitPay on SHOP.COM in the U.S., Canada, Hong Kong, the U.K., Australia and Malaysia. Market America has also partnered with Sezzle to offer their “Buy Now, Pay Later” option. Ridinger believes that the online shopping experience has become more inclusive now that shoppers can purchase all the items they need and spread out the total cost into four payments over six weeks, interest-free and at no additional cost via Sezzle.
According to Ridinger, one of the company’s distinguishing features is that its corporate team has remained basically unchanged since its start. He says that the crew is so close after 30 years together that it feels more like a family than a company. As a result, collaborative sessions are incredibly open and dynamic, with everyone valuing input from all sources. “Like any family, we all have different perspectives. I always try to consider different viewpoints because it’s the only way to truly grasp the big picture,” said Ridinger.
At Market America, the entire corporate team believes in the company’s vision and mission, which Ridinger thinks is crucial for developing a corporate culture built on love and mutual respect. Personally, he has always believed in leading by example. He emphasized, “You can’t just tell someone to do something; you must show them. It’s the only way to be a genuine leader. Playing an active role in your corporate team’s experiential learning and development is the key to authentic leadership.”
Ridinger believes people need more family time. He finds that most jobs deny us of the most precious thing we have — time with family and loved ones. That’s one of the main reasons he is such a big believer in entrepreneurship.
He also believes that people need more opportunities and asserted that, all too often, we feel trapped by the lack of opportunities for upward mobility within our society. “I feel that entrepreneurship is a great way to address this issue because of its unmatched ability to empower people,” Ridinger added.
Ridinger insisted that companies need to put people first, adding that many companies get far too caught up in the bottom line and lose sight of the fact that data or technology doesn’t make a company special – people do. The men and women who work for you are, in fact, your bottom line. He said, “My philosophy has always been that companies don’t make people successful; people make companies successful.”
Having always considered time the most valuable resource anyone possesses, Ridinger didn’t want to squander his talent by working in a cubicle for 45 years in a dead-end job. He learned early on that the grind was designed to benefit the corporation you worked for rather than you. People are merely statistics to most businesses, data to be handled and exploited. He didn’t want to be associated with such thinking, so he enlisted the help of his wife, Loren. They set out to create a business strategy that would completely transform the sector. Ridinger recalled, “Loren helped me understand the value of my plan and provided the motivation and drive for me to make it happen. To this day, Loren has never stopped motivating and believing in me, both in life and in business, which is one of the reasons why Market America has become so successful.”
Ridinger described Loren as an exhilarating public speaker, motivator, business executive and entrepreneur. With each corporate event, she supercharges the entire organization. He noted, “Her passion and belief are contagious and have served as a driving force for my initial decision to become an entrepreneur as well as our continued success.” Aside from being a brilliant beauty mogul, Loren has an uncanny ability to make you believe in yourself. That love and support have not only served as the foundation for our marriage but also our entrepreneurial success. In so many ways, I’m the luckiest man on earth,” said Ridinger.
Online Shopping Trendsetter
Ridinger sees Market America — specifically SHOP.COM, its award winning and primary consumer facing global ecommerce site — as a leader in online shopping and an opportunity amplifier for entrepreneurs. He said, “We’re unique in that we serve the needs of both consumers and entrepreneurs, and I think this dynamic will only grow in importance as more and more people seek new opportunities for growth and development.” Believing the company will continue to be a pioneer, he is looking forward to seeing the completion and maturing of today’s strategy, technology and activities in areas such as cryptocurrency and digital marketing. Market America, as a business, has always had one eye on the future — an attitudinal attribute Ridinger believes has helped the company stay ahead of the curve. “I’m so excited to ride the next wave and share what we have in the works,” he added.
Mindset for Success
These past few years have been challenging for many businesses around the globe. However, they’ve also provided an opportunity for some deep self-reflection. Ridinger said, “We all learned more about the benefits of having a corporate structure that anticipates change and reacts to ever-shifting demands. For example, any company that isn’t exploring different supply chain solutions for possible problems on the horizon is probably already in trouble. Failing to anticipate change leaves you vulnerable to it.”
He also added, “One thing that you can say categorically ‘doesn’t work’ is remaining rigid in your approach to business. If you’re not continuously evolving and adapting, you’re not keeping up because perpetual change is the only true constant in life. Some businesses and corporate leaders are locked into antiquated mindsets or, at best, slow to change. Being rigid in your approach to business is a major pitfall that often results in missed opportunities. Businesses also tend to apply one solution to all their problems, when you must appreciate that every situation is unique and requires you to be proactive, reactive and adaptive.”
Believe in Yourself
Ridinger’s advice for young entrepreneurs is to “take risks and believe in yourself.” Furthermore, he added, “You’re going to hear the word ‘no’ a lot, but don’t take it to heart and let it derail your vision. Remain focused on your long-term goals and utilize short-term setbacks as opportunities for growth and development.”
He concluded, “Sometimes you regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did. Consider different viewpoints and perspectives and understand that reality is essentially our collective perceptions. Your viewpoint is one of many, and sometimes there’s more than one right or wrong answer. Keep this in mind, and over time, you’ll cultivate a more inclusive attitude.”