So, you're thinking about striking out on your own and becoming your own boss — an entrepreneur?
According to online dictionaries, an entrepreneur is someone who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk of a business venture.
Sometimes entrepreneurs become very wealthy through their business venture; and sometimes they lose everything.
The Walton Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a panel discussion this week with three local entrepreneurs who have found success in their ventures. Here are their stories.
‘Play like a big hitter’
Ron Green opened his first Another Broken Egg restaurant 17 years ago with little restaurant experience. He had $1,500 in the bank and had payroll due that Friday of $3,600. But after his first month in business, he has never had to borrow again.
"I worked 365 days a year in the beginning," he said. "I tell people who come to me wanting to open a franchise, 'If you want to do this, you have to be in your restaurant.'"
Today, Green currently has 31 locations open, he has opened five in the past seven years and is poised to take them international.
His keys to success?
"Plan, schedule, implement," he said. "Pay attention to details. It's important to have a growth strategy. Hire great people. Strategize and reduce steps in the process. Think out of the box."
Green, who calls Destin home, feels it is important that people feel at home in his restaurant, and he treats everyone like family.
"Build relationships and have structure," he said.
He says that timing is key, you have to love what you do, and listen to your customers.
"You have to be the best at what you do and be lean. Play like a big hitter. Be smart. It's easy to be good. It's hard to be the best. Pay more money to hire the best," he advised. "Having a good idea and staying relevant is key."
For those considering becoming an entrepreneur, Green would ask, "Is your name trademarkable?"
Another critical consideration is whether your finances are in order, and your ability to get financing, as you will need 10 to 15 percent more than you think you will.
As for his competition, Green knows who they are, where they are, and what they are doing — but after that, he says, "Competition is healthy and makes us want to be better."
Green is poised to open five more franchises by January 2014.
"I believed I could do it. Have faith in yourself and push forward," he said.
‘Believe you’re right’
Green was joined on the panel by Jane Soloman, president of Barlovento, LLC, a construction company she founded in 1996.
Soloman, who splits her time between Seagrove and Dothan, said her growth is based on her past performance, as her business is performance driven.
"If you don't have happy customers, you don't get good ratings," she said.
Soloman stays at the top of her game by being 100-percent committed and hiring people who are smarter than she is and treating them well.
"Then, they will treat you well," she said.
She strives to motivate employees to give their best by making sure they have a stake in the business through monetary incentives.
"Believe in yourself," she said. "Be tough and believe you're right and others will believe in you."
‘Listen to your people’
Don Hay, founder of the Maid Brigade, was the third member of the panel.
The Harvard grad founded Maid Brigade in 1984 and it is now in 35 states.
Hay said that having an idea and taking action is key for an entrepreneur.
He also advised to set ego aside and hire people who are smarter than you.
"Hire smart people who are the best, and have passion," he said.
Hay said his biggest competition are the independent maids, but he says his team is better, as they undergo training and are bonded.
His advice is, "Listen to your people and use someone else's capitol to grow."