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Chicken Soup for the Wealthy Soul
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By: Teri Bernstein

 

 Jack Canfield tells a story

 

Jack Canfield and Victor Hansen started the "Chicken Soup for the [fill-in-the-blank] Soul" franchise. The company had successfully branched out into greeting cards and calendars before its sale to William J. Rouhana, Jr. 

Rouhana overreached, however, by expanding into movie-making and soup production, both of which failed. He has had success, however, in pet food and several titles that are similar to those in the original series, but more cleanly branded. An example is "Chicken Soup for the Soul: From Lemons to Lemonade." In this format, the franchise has expanded to around 300 titles.

 

What seems like a good idea to an entrepreneur thinking out-of-the-box may not pan out for several reasons. Actual chicken soup seems like it could have worked. But just because a company has one very successful idea does not mean it can branch out on a tangent that might not resonate with the market.  The article gives the examples of a vodka specialist trying to branch into gin, which is a different production process and has a different market. Even more clearly far afield, could Exxon try to make an ice cream? In any event, Rouhana--in partnership with his wife, Amy Newmark--is now extremely successful, and has new plans for expansion. 

 

By the way, this article was part of a series in the Business section of the New York Times called "Wealth Matters." The series is directed at, and about, strategies for the affluent--so it may be of interest to anyone who is, or plans to become, extraordinarily rich.

 

Source: "Wealth Matters: Chicken Soup For the Soul? Sure, but served in a Bowl?" by Paul Sullivan, New York Times: Money Matters, November 3, 2017.

 

Discussion: 

  • What other attempts at expansion into other fields can you think of? How successful have they been?
  • What is the take-away lesson of "Bobsie the Fireman"? 
  • What can you learn from the experience of Rouhana and Newmark? What is Rouhana's immediate plan for future expansion?