In the last twenty years, the one question I have been asked the most is: what are the keys to your success? As a business owner and an entrepreneur at heart, I have learned many lessons that I’d like to share with you.
Here are my top 10 tips that can help you succeed as a business owner:
1. Be passionate about what you are doing
Your daily grind should be one of passion and fun. My brother used to say, “If you do what you LOVE... you’ll always be successful at it."
2. Surround yourself with people that will challenge you, not “yes men”
You need to be able to listen to all sides (pro and con) before you make a decision. Listen to people who give their honest opinion--not those who tell you what they THINK you want to hear. You need to know where the landmines may be before you make a decision. I challenge my people to argue with me, and I really enjoy it. It keeps us all on our toes and makes for some exciting and entertaining staff meetings.
3. Appreciate your people
Your team can make or break you! Many business owners think I spoil my employees. The truth is that without them, we would never be where we are now. As a business owner, I only drive the train, my employees provide the steam to run the engine uphill. To this day, I still look for those diamonds in the rough!
4. Always consider your customer’s point of view
This is valuable for everything from marketing promotions to problem resolution. It’s not that the “customer is always right,” but it is important to put yourself in their shoes and treat them like you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
5. Be a value to your suppliers
No matter what industry you’re in, it is important to establish bonds with those you do business with. Ask yourself what you are bringing to the table and remember that you both need each other. TALK to them, get to know them--don’t just email or text them. In a pinch, they can help you.
6. Appreciate your competitors
Seems odd, right? But our competitors keep us on our toes and inspire us to do better every day. Many of them I now consider my friends, and we formed a strong alliance with a common goal to keep industry ethics on track. We typically have the same problems, and there really is strength in numbers!
7. Have an exit strategy
Realize that at some point, you need to either sell your company or pass your business on to a loved one. Create a succession plan within your organization. You need to recognize that when the time comes, you must protect your legacy and maximize your years of hard work. For me, that was two years ago when I sold my controlling interest in CruCon to a $2B company. I then created SLC Group Holdings to invest in and mentor young entrepreneurs and help make all their dreams come true!
8. Build a strong support system
Everyone needs a support system because you will have times when you just don’t see the light. Crap happens. So, you need someone there to pump you back up and give you renewed confidence. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the support and unwavering trust of my SLC Group Holdings staff, as well as the unconditional love of 22 little feet that meet me at the door every night with tails wagging - my four tiny Maltese girls, my cat (Finney), and, of course, my Bruce! It doesn’t matter how bad the day was, they (and a lemon drop martini) make it all better.
9. Pick yourself up when you fall down
Use your support system from number eight! You WILL make mistakes. We all do. Don’t blame someone else for them. Own them. They are yours. Recovering from our mistakes quickly and learning a lesson makes us stronger and wiser in our decisions going forward.
10. Whenever possible, pay it forward
It’s tough when you first start out to donate to charities or volunteer within your community because you don’t have money or time, but once you have some breathing room, it’s an important thing to do. Businesses are the pillars of their communities. Give something back. Your community needs it. It brings you new employees and retains old ones because they are proud of where they work. You never know when you may need their support for something. Plus, it brings good Karma, too!
And finally… NO UPRIGHT TOASTERS!
Read Rockets, Pop-Tarts & Perseverance: My Journey to Success for the back story.
SLC Group Holdings is a privately held company with diversified holdings in real estate, investments, marketing, and other business ventures. Twenty-five years ago, SLC Group Holdings founder & CEO Sandy Cleary left her career as an aerospace engineer to follow her passion and start a cruise travel agency in her mother’s basement. She grew that business into one of the largest sellers of cruises in North America with more than $135 million in annual cruise volume all while expanding her empire. Her latest venture, SLC Group Holdings, seeks to partner with passionate business owners and entrepreneurs that need an investment to take their business or product idea to the next level.
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