Small Business Owners Share Their Wisdom

November 25, 2014

Global Entrepreneurship Week [GEW] has seen several events focused on small business take place since its launch this month, and over the course of the celebration of entrepreneurs, a number of local small business owners were profiled, and they took the time to outline the mindset behind each of their individual success stories even while offering advice to the next generation of innovators.

Deryn Higgins – My Sereni-Tea [click here for profile]

“Even when it’s not making me rich, I stay in it because this is my calling, this is what brings me happiness, it’s my passion. I’d be miserable behind a desk in a job, working for someone else. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit.”

“Follow your passion and follow your dream. It can be really hard work but it’s even harder to ignore your passion, doing something you don’t like and being unhappy. That’s the hardest work ever.”

“When you work for yourself it’s necessary to have someone outside of the business as a sounding board, to bounce ideas off, someone to look at things another way, to help you consider all angles and of course, to offer encouragement.”

Katrina Ball – Bermuda Parent Magazine [click here for profile]

“Although I had no background in publishing, I had done a lot of research – so I went into clients with just a basic mock-up and my vision. They believed in me and they bought into my passion for the product, as they had not seen the product itself.”

“Does the passion ever die? There may be moments where I’d like someone to come alongside and take some of the pressure off – it’s like those days that you want to hand over your kids for a moment, to take a short vacation. You find things that are able to rejuvenate and breathe new life into the product and passion. As the owner, you’re the driver and you make it work.”

“My advice to others is: If you have an idea, research it. Ask a lot of people. Find a niche. Know your cost for start up and make sure you have a plan and financial buffer in case something goes wrong. Then, have a go.”

“If it ever feels like it’s failing, I find fellow entrepreneurs to bounce ideas with. Don’t be afraid of your competitors. Think of them instead as ‘being in a blue ocean where there is room for everyone and each business operates with a unique space, vs. a red ocean where you are in constant competition with your competitors. We can help each other to grow infinitely, within the uniqueness or character of each business.”

“People don’t usually need any particular product, but it’s the experience or perception about it that they are buying in to, it’s what the product does for them or how it makes them feel.”

Gavin Kennedy – The Hub [click here for profile]

“I learn by my mistakes. I’ve made many, many, mistakes. You have to be willing to accept them.”

The biggest mistake you can make is letting the mistake stop you. If you have the desire, the passion and you want to do it, then do it.

“My goal is always to succeed at what I do. You’re only a failure is you don’t try. If you don’t try, you’ll never know.”

“It wasn’t until I got the proper systems in place that I could account for all the sales we were making and I realised we had a significant business with higher revenue than I had thought.”

When things go wrong or it gets bad for me, I think; tomorrow I won’t be broken into, tomorrow it’ll get better. It keeps me going through any difficult times.

“My advice to others would be to treat staff with respect and show them you love and appreciate them. They care about that, it means a lot to them. I also get a lot from giving to them, these young Bermudian men are loyal and a part of the family.”

“Sometimes I get satisfaction from referring a customer to another retailer if I don’t have what they want. I’d rather lose a sale and gain a customer for life than to lose a customer just to gain a sale.”

Shawnette Simmons-Smith & Joseph Smith – Green Lite Café & Eatery [click here for profile]

“Our vision for the café is not just about eating. It’s about giving back to the community. We want to create a foundation and go global. There are no borders and no limits to what we can do – only in our minds. You have to dream big in order to succeed.”

“It’s important for us to take downtime, sit out for a minute and self-reflect, to grade ourselves on what we’ve done and how we did it; this allows us to move forward, stronger. When we close up at night we take a walk, talk about the workday and release it.

Don’t feel guilty about taking time to meditate on what you’re doing. The nourishment you get from it is often what you need to help nourish others. Time is not going to reappear.”

“This country will lift out of the recession by us taking it ourselves – Bermuda can be a showcase for entrepreneurs and small business. There are so many brilliant ideas floating around.

We are are often discouraged by banks and the lack of forthcoming financial backing. We’ve learned to believe that if the bank says no, we drop our dream, but there are other ways to do it; don’t wait on the bank.”

Ashley Bean – Juice N Beans Café [click here for profile]

“I go to sleep dreaming about this place – there’s no switch off – I’m constantly thinking about changes, efficiency, customer service, marketing, promotions, accounting and quality control – smoothies & coffees need to be good, and the same every time, that’s why customers come back.”

“Even though my business isn’t directly related to my sociology degree, my University studies really helped me. I understand people’s relationship with one another and how people interact, how they behave in groups; it’s made me a people person and that helps me with customer service and in running the business.”

“You have to work on the backend before the front. It’s research, it’s business plans, you have to make sure that you have crunched the numbers, done your market research, checked out your competition, found a good location; the backend operations is what keeps the business sustainable. You can always sell something but without organisation behind it, it’s not going to last.”

“For about six months in the beginning I worked 18-hour days, 7 days a week; it was hard, very hard, I’m not sure how I did it! During that time I established a good customer base and people would come in and always see me. It showed that I was dedicated and that I love what I do and believe in my product. Now I work 6 days per week and shorter days, and I love it.”

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