Seven Local Women Share Their Secrets to Success
When times are tough, it is easy to lose sight of what is really important in business, and in today’s economy, business owners can use all of the good advice they can get. Although experience is often gained at a price, we are going to share the secrets of success from seven successful entrepreneurs who have already footed the bill.
Find what you love to do and do It — Kathleen Richards, Owner, Portola Property Mgmt, Inc.
“Make your work and personal life something fulfilling. I love what I do. I love the people I work with. I love my clients, tenants and vendors. I can’t wait to get to work each day. I have always thought; at the end of my life when I am on my deathbed am I going to wish I spent an extra day at the office? No, I am going to wish I had spent more time with family, friends, going to the beach etc. Since we all spend more time at work than with our families you should be doing something you love, find fun or challenging and love the people you work with.”
Make the best product and give the best service — Gayle Ortiz, Owner, Gayle’s Bakery
“My philosophy has always been to make the best product and give the best service. They are equal in importance and are often sidestepped along the way. Providing a good product is easier. When you start a business you feel you can make something or do something better than anyone else, so that aspect is usually covered. Customer service is often given short shrift though. As the owner, you may have that ability, but it’s not easy to instill it in others. To hire, train and manage good employees takes time, skill and patience. I always encourage new business owners to find a reputable human resource consultant to help them learn this aspect of their business.”
Our customers are really our community — Casey Coonerty-Protti, Owner, Bookshop Santa Cruz
“I want our staff to move away from the notion that the transactions in our store are people giving us money for an exchange of goods. Instead, we discuss our values and our mission in all of our communications thereby creating a community that feels shared ownership for the store and for the place of the written word in our cultural life.
This was essential to our survival. After the 1989 earthquake, which destroyed the building housing Bookshop Santa Cruz, we asked for community volunteers to enter the damaged building to retrieve our inventory. I didn’t think many people would risk their lives for a product, but over 400 people volunteered because they wanted to save the literary community that they belonged to. Time and time again, we were helped by our community to survive whatever challenges came our way.”
Trust your instincts — Melissa McDill, CEO, McDill Associates
“In 30+ years of working in the food and produce categories developing marketing solutions, a guiding principle I’ve learned is to trust my instincts. While the clients we develop marketing campaigns for are primarily male, the end consumers are primarily women — making it critical to trust my instincts. We need to continually put ourselves in the consumer’s heels and make sound recommendations that we know will drive results. Beyond the workplace, I have found in all areas of life that trusting my instincts is always a safe bet. There’s nothing worse than the ‘coulda, woulda, shoulda’s’ of ignoring your gut!”
Add value everywhere you go — Stephanie Harkness, Chairman/CEO, Pacific Plastics & Engineering
No matter where you are or who you are dealing with, you have the ability to add value to any situation. Adding value takes a lot more effort than simply “being present”, but the reward is infinitely valuable. When you add value to others, you increase your own worth as a result. Recognize the value that people bring to you—people with strong values, a diversity of thought, and more talent in various expertise. When I appreciate others, both their and my value increases tremendously. Adding value everywhere you go helps to achieve and protect personal greatness. It also guards my time and productivity, and ensures my personal well-being for a harmonious life.
Surround yourself with employees you trust—Pam Caldwell Nootbaar, General Manager, Kennolyn Camps and Kennolyn Events
“Surround yourself with people who understand and support your vision for the company. I think being consistent in your approach to problems and following through with what you say helps to gain employees’ trust. I had an erratic boss at one of my first jobs and it was a great opportunity to learn what not to do when I was in that role.”
Treat people the way you want to be treated—Linda Hopper, Boss Woman, Silver Spur
“It’s difficult. There are a lot of mitigating circumstances every day. Everything from equipment breakdowns and staffing conundrums to boredom. These are not problems your customers should be concerned with. And then again–it’s easy and simple. Perseverance is the key to success in a lot of areas. If you fail one day to live up to your own expectations, try the next day. Start over. Do the best job you can. And, oh yes, try to have a sense of humor about the whole affair.”