CEOs Discuss How to Build a Successful Service Business

Ryan Combe of Steel Coated Floors

Ryan Combe of Steel Coated Floors

If I had to narrow it down to one I would go with a phrase I tell myself almost every day… “It isn’t the failed ventures that will keep you up at night, it’s passing on the hits.” I tell...

Pia Silva of Worstofall Design

Pia Silva of Worstofall Design

Everything is a learning opportunity, so don’t be afraid to try things. There is only so much you can learn from watching and reading, in the end, you won’t know which strategies will work for your business unless you try...

Michael Welch of Blackcircles.com

Michael Welch of Blackcircles.com

Don’t let the stress cloud the enjoyment of building your business. It’s a cliché but for me, the most enjoyable phase is probably the most stressful one! So, take time to reflect and appreciate the progress you are making. The...

Jonathan Murrell, CMO of The Escape Game

Jonathan Murrell, CMO of The Escape Game

Have empathy. It’s elementary but put yourself in the guests’ shoes and ask, “How would I want to be treated in this situation? How would I want to feel in this situation? What would I want someone to say to...

Matthew Schechner of Essential Advisory Services

Matthew Schechner of Essential Advisory Services

Purpose is everything. It’s what gets you out of bed every morning. For us, it is about being able to cross spheres into zones where the industry isn’t headed yet and tearing down walls rather than building them up. You...

Eric Langshur of AVIA

Eric Langshur of AVIA

We also believe in that old expression that culture eats strategy for lunch — every time! Accordingly, we make an out-sized investment in building culture and have myriad programs that drive it.

Ed Kane of Big Night Nightlife

Ed Kane of Big Night Nightlife

Empower your employees — It is essential that every single employee feels a part of something greater. Something important. Something where they directly contribute to the success of the business.

Drew Uher of HomeLight

Drew Uher of HomeLight

The single most important thing a new founder or CEO should know to create a successful business is that it’s all about team chemistry.

Andrea Norfolk of Shoreline Destinations

Andrea Norfolk of Shoreline Destinations

Grow smartly — If the right infrastructure isn’t in place to handle growth, it will lead to poor customer service. As mentioned, I’ve been strategic in growing this agency only to a certain point. I don’t need 50 agents. I...

Andre Gaccetta of G7 Entertainment Marketing

Andre Gaccetta of G7 Entertainment Marketing

The first step is to concisely define your value proposition and develop a way to effectively communicate it. From there you’ve got to define your business culture and stick to it. Once you’ve articulated your vision and defined your business...

Dr. Shawn Dill and Dr. Lacey of The Specific Chiropractic Centers

Dr. Shawn Dill and Dr. Lacey of The Specific Chiropractic Centers

Know your destination. Most service-based businesses think they are in the business of serving. But that may not be the case. In fact, you won’t be in business very long if you are just serving to serve.

Joey Pointer of Fleet Feet

Joey Pointer of Fleet Feet

It all starts with people. Many companies talk about being customer-obsessed. While I believe that is important, I believe that we should be employee obsessed. I have long believed that the customer comes second. How can we possibly ask our...

Andrew Alfano of Retro Fitness

Andrew Alfano of Retro Fitness

You need to surround yourself with a diverse slate of smart, talented leaders. Leaders who think differently than you and are willing to challenge and tell you the unvarnished truth. Your business will grow far faster if you surround yourself...

Jay Reeder of VoiceNation

Jay Reeder of VoiceNation

Assembling the Right Team: Regardless of how good an idea is, if the right people aren’t in place to implement, it won’t matter. Focus on surrounding yourself with the best team possible and everything else will fall into place.

Eric Einhorn of On Site Opera

Eric Einhorn of On Site Opera

Stay nimble and flexible. Each venue in which we perform requires a completely new approach to production and audience experience. If we were too rigid to adjust in the wake of the distressing camel calf (see above), On Site would...

Todd Conklin of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties

Todd Conklin of Coldwell Banker Distinctive Properties

Clarity: As a leader, you need complete clarity, in high definition, of what you are trying to accomplish. Without it, you will struggle to tell your story and, not only will no one follow you, but you will fall prey...

Andre Filip of ELA

Andre Filip of ELA

Get your ego out of the way. Stay open and keep learning. You have to stay on the bleeding edge of what is current and adapt accordingly. You don’t always know it all, so don’t take it personally.

George Arison of Shift

George Arison of Shift

Great talent still requires management — most great founders are terrible managers so get coaching on how to manage early.

Fred Hubler of Retainer-based Academy

Fred Hubler of Retainer-based Academy

Take time out, especially when you don’t think you can. My best ideas were when I wasn’t in the office. It’s almost counterintuitive, but the year was the best year we’ve had, and I didn’t even come into the office...

Colleen Werner of LulaFit

Colleen Werner of LulaFit

Don’t look for VC money to start or save you. Most of my pure technology-founder friends find it quite shocking that I waited 4.5 years to raise my first round of outside capital. I think when you’re building a product,...

Allan Wright of Zephyr Adventures

Allan Wright of Zephyr Adventures

Stick to what you do best. We have expanded to new areas many times but most times we come right back to our core business.

Laura Radosh Butt of LBR Insight

Laura Radosh Butt of LBR Insight

Don’t grow for growth’s sake. Use consultants for the busy times until you can justify and warrant the cost of a new team member. Rushing to add to your team will only lead to frustration and a lack of passion....

Lynn Heublein of SkinSpirit

Lynn Heublein of SkinSpirit

Happy staff is equal to happy clients. The services business is personal by nature — everyone loves being around people with lots of energy and positivity. It is so important to create a happy climate for your staff to thrive....

Amanda Daering of Newance

Amanda Daering of Newance

Never stop mastering your craft. The key to building a successful services business is that your company must be a better option than the three other choices your potential clients have: doing nothing, completing the work themselves and other service...

Matt Hulett of Rosetta Stone

Matt Hulett of Rosetta Stone

Take care of your employees first. If you take care of your team, then they will take care of your customers. Take care of your customers. Set a high bar for customer service, track it and reward your team for...

Vasco Borges of Beach Enclave Turks & Caicos

Vasco Borges of Beach Enclave Turks & Caicos

Team empowerment. If you hire the right talent and want them to make the decisions on the go, empowerment is key. It is a skill that, unfortunately, is not nurtured enough in hospitality. How many times have all of us...

Alison Mountford of Ends+Stems

Alison Mountford of Ends+Stems

Talk to your customers first. I learned this early on from a friend and mentor. You aren’t your target market so don’t waste money building something you want until you know if people will pay you for your product.

Joel Thomas of Stratos Jet Charters

Joel Thomas of Stratos Jet Charters

I truly believe that the best leaders are the ones who cast the clearest vision for their company. It takes clarity and repetition to make vision stick. At my company, we don’t just hand new hires a training manual with...

George Birrell of Taxhub

George Birrell of Taxhub

You must create a culture of impeccable client service from the beginning. It is important to do this from the get-go because, once this is established, it is naturally spread to all new employees and becomes almost effortless. Creating high...

Darrin Giglio of North American Investigations

Darrin Giglio of North American Investigations

Create Relationships: The more relationships you can build and network you grow, the more long-lasting your business will become. I have built a trusted network of Investigators, contacts and resources all over the world, which have immensely benefited my clients...

Eytan Bensoussan of NorthOne

Eytan Bensoussan of NorthOne

Show hunger for what you do. Never stop reading and learning about your passion. Nike is a great example of a company with an insane hunger to be the absolute best. Show your competition every time that you’re the best...

Peter Nieves of WINFertility

Peter Nieves of WINFertility

I too often learn of people that do not have the funds or benefits to cover the costs of fertility, adoption or surrogacy. With so many people in need I would love to find ways to raise money to help...

Freddie Laker of Chameleon Collective

Freddie Laker of Chameleon Collective

People First. Be maniacal in your approach to recruiting. Insist on being part of the hiring process for every hire. Being smart and knowledgeable should not be enough to get in the door, insist on finding people that will be...

Wade Brannon of Pigtails & Crewcuts

Wade Brannon of Pigtails & Crewcuts

It is imperative in a service organization to manage your customers’ expectations. In our business, we have wait times on busy days. We wish we didn’t but it is just a fact of life. Our customers tend to come in...

Antonia Hock of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center

Antonia Hock of The Ritz-Carlton Leadership Center

Be Highly Differentiated or Perish: I see a lot of leaders who think that their business is special simply because they run them. In services, you must be ruthlessly honest about your position in the market. Are you offering a...

Jonathan Maxim of K&J Growth Hackers

Jonathan Maxim of K&J Growth Hackers

Your people are your profit engine. So you need to have backup and overflow team members in case you lose one to a competitor, or need to expand quick.

Jeff Brunken of MGIS

Jeff Brunken of MGIS

Give back in ways that reinforce the value proposition. We provide disability income replacement insurance to healthcare professionals nationally. We recently introduced a coverage option for paying off student loan debt in the event of disability. Student loan debt is...

Tim Spiegelglass of Spiegelglass Construction Company

Tim Spiegelglass of Spiegelglass Construction Company

Always take the high road. In a service-based business especially, you are your company. Do the right thing, even if it costs you in the short-term. We’ve seen the returns on this approach in the form of long-term relationships and...

Abby Sparks of Abby Sparks Jewelry

Abby Sparks of Abby Sparks Jewelry

You must make risk a good friend. You have got to be OK with discomfort and risk if you’re going to have your own business. Because there is no path, there is no “right” way; there is only what you...

Zack Zalon of Super Hi-Fi

Zack Zalon of Super Hi-Fi

You can go wide, or you can go deep, but you can’t do both, so choose wisely. As a service business, you can choose to service a wide variety of industries, but you’ll have to offer a very narrow set...

Nico Hodel of Start It Up NYC

Nico Hodel of Start It Up NYC

Under-promise and Over-deliver: Always provide additional perks and value outside of the contract you have in place with clients free of charge. As a service-based business, your clients should always be top-of-mind and any chance to provide additional value should...

Kim Kaupe of The Superfan Company

Kim Kaupe of The Superfan Company

Sleep and Eat Well — Think of yourself as an athlete. If Tom Brady ate McDonalds and got little sleep do you think he’d be playing in the Super Bowl? Definitely not. Think of yourself that same way. You want...

Justin Goodbread of FinanciallySimple.com

Justin Goodbread of FinanciallySimple.com

Hire your opposite. No matter where you are in the business cycle, starting out, or a veteran of self-employment, you are continually trying to build a paradigm of personalities to balance out your entire organization. Use a behavioral profile test,...

Ryan McInnis of Picnic Tax

Ryan McInnis of Picnic Tax

Be humble. If you’re not humble, you’re not going to be able to listen and be receptive to what customers want. You have to know that you aren’t always going to have the answers, and you have to be constantly...

Grant Aldrich of OnlineDegree

Grant Aldrich of OnlineDegree

Stay Authentic. Authenticity is magnetic. So much of growing a business is getting real support and backing from not only customers, but partners, clients, media, and other people in the industry. If you’re authentic, your mission will resonate and transmit...