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      CEOs Discuss How to Build a Successful Service Business

      Valerie Bihet of VIBE

      Valerie Bihet of VIBE

      I want to inspire people to build their own business. I want to give back to the community with all that I have learned from starting and growing my own brand and company. If I had someone when I started...

      Stephan Fortier of GrapeStars

      Stephan Fortier of GrapeStars

      The most successful people I’ve met are not necessarily the biggest scholars or thinkers, but they are the biggest doers. They act first, and then readjust with more actions if need be. They don’t spend unnecessary time talking or thinking...

      Mitch Chailland of Canal HR

      Mitch Chailland of Canal HR

      Keep employee morale on the positive side. Your employees are the face of your company. When they feel good about your business, your customers will take note.

      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...

      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.

      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.

      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...

      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...

      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.

      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...

      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...

      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...

      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.

      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.

      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,...

      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.

      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....

      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....

      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...

      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...

      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...

      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...

      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...

      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...

      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...

      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...

      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...