While there are some universal tenets of success, entrepreneurs wouldn’t be entrepreneurs if they didn’t march to the beat of their own inner drummer. Many successful small business owners have their own “secrets”—things they do or believe that help them achieve success.
Here some of today’s smartest, most innovative, highly successful business owners share their insights and success secrets with you.
Meet: Katarina Maloney and Janell Thompson, who got an unusual start on their entrepreneurial journey. They met on Craigslist when Katarina posted an ad looking for a roommate in San Diego. Janell responded and moved in.
From there the two cofounded their holistic hemp oil businesses. Katarina is the CEO of Hemp Health, a company that sells health and wellness products made from CBD-rich hemp. The company’s hemp products are legal in all 50 states and are used in foods and as nutritional additives. They also offer hemp CBD products and treats for your pets!
Janell is the CEO of Hemp Hookahzz, which sells e-cigarettes and liquids. Hookahzz uses only vegetable nicotine, eliminating the harmful toxins, smoke, ash and unpleasant smell associated with traditional cigarettes. Their products create pure vapor (steam, condensation, moisture) as opposed to actual smoke.
The cofounders want to empower people to take charge of their health and hope to change the dialogue around alternative medicine.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Katarina Maloney: A veterinarian. I love animals. I kept bringing home lonely puppies, kittens and bunnies from an early age. My mom didn’t know what to do with them—some we ended up adopting. Today I have my 11th dog (all were rescued).
Janell Thompson: [I wanted to be] a nurse so I could help the ill.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Maloney: I wanted to make a difference in the world. I feel like today’s modern “slavery”—you drive in your car to work in order to pay off the car you’re sitting in—wasn’t for me anymore. I wanted the freedom to do what I feel like, live how I want, create what I want, and be who I was born to be.
Thompson: I’ve always been kind of a free spirit and never did very well with having restrictions or following directions. I’m also a self-motivator and I had my own ideas about how I wanted to do things, so it was only a matter of time before I became my own boss.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Maloney: I grew up in Czechoslovakia, and when I came to the United States with $250 in my pocket, I didn’t speak the language or know anyone. You can become anyone you want if you work hard. Today I speak four languages, own my own home and car, and own a business in the United States and in the European Union. I am still not afraid to learn, fail and succeed.
Thompson: I would say I’ve had at least a few pivotal moments in my career in the Hemp CBD Business, but I’ll reflect on a moment early on. Although I was a risk taker and a free spirit—or as my previous boss described me, “a strong personality”--it wasn’t until taking on a business partner who seemingly had absolutely no fears that I learned how to put my own fears aside. When I did that, I realized I could accomplish much more than I ever thought I was capable of. Thank you, Katarina Maloney!
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Maloney: Educate yourself. Your knowledge is your best asset.
Thompson: Three words that I live by in business are passion, risk and perseverance. I would suggest doing something you are extremely passionate about and don’t give up. Even if you fail the first, second or third time around, if you believe in what you are doing, pick yourself up, brush yourself off, then reflect on your mistakes and make a new plan of action.
I’ve learned that many people also have this assumption that going into business for yourself is an easy way to make money and have more free time. On the contrary: It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and risk, and it’s not only stressful, but can be very time consuming.
Seemingly people have this idea that because I’m self-employed and love to travel, I have a lot of free time on my hands. However, my workday doesn’t always end when I leave the office at night—or the country, for that matter.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Maloney: Starting a business is just the beginning of an entrepreneur’s adventure. To keep the door open for business, you will need to know a few skills. Some business skills can be taught in a school, but in the end, the pivotal skills are learned only in real life. The most important ones are to be true to yourself and to never give up. Have your heart in the right place and educate yourself, as laws, regulations and industries are changing constantly. Always remember your competition is wiser, because they never sleep and you shouldn’t either.
Thompson: I think I would have to go back to the three words I live by: passion, risk and perseverance. Success is rarely simple, nor does it often happen overnight.
Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?
Maloney: I do have one for the hemp and medical marijuana industry. This industry is expected to grow in 2017, particularly after more states legalize recreational marijuana and medical marijuana. In 2016 legal sales, based on ArcView's estimations, reached about $6.7 billion. By 2020, medical marijuana sales are expected to reach nearly $23 billion. This is the place to be today, and we are honored to be making history.
Thompson: I predict that more and more men and woman will open small businesses. It’s already happening. With today’s technology and social media outlets, it’s more convenient than ever to work remotely and more economical to promote your business. Even though being self-employed can be challenging and laborious, it still enables many to spend more time with their families and raise their children at home.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Maloney: I am not a reader for pleasure. I like to learn. The last book I read that made a huge impact was called Male Brain, by Louann Brizendine, M.D. (I totally recommend all women read it.)
Thompson: Frankly, I’m not a big reader because my mind wanders. However, I enjoyed reading and very much related to The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. Somehow from late adolescence, and way before I knew the meaning of manifestation, I learned how to adopt the law of attraction. I remember having a big “aha moment” when I began reading the book because I never could explain it or make sense of it before.
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Maloney: My mantra is “I’ve got this.” If you’re never scared or embarrassed or hurt, it means you never take any chances.
Thompson: If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.