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: Robyn Santiago. In 2015, Robyn and her husband Danny bought Villaggio Italiano, an Italian restaurant in Westchester, New York, where the couple first met. While the Santiagos kept many things the same (staff, vendors, etc.) they made a few minor changes that have had a positive impact on the restaurant. There’s live jazz every Thursday, happy hour seven days a week, live entertainment on holidays, and a core foundation of family. The owners, staff and customers of Villaggio have seen the ambiance, morale and overall business of the restaurant improve greatly.
You can find them on Twitter @VillaggiosRest.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Robyn Santiago: I always wanted to be in the restaurant business. I thought I wanted to be a chef until I went into the kitchen and realized how hot it was. My Dad would say when I was growing up, you’re going to have a restaurant one day and you will call it “Robyn’s Nest.”
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
Santiago: I love the independence of running my own business and working hard knowing that I am compensated correctly. I work almost 80 hours a week and love every second of it, but I know that every minute I put in makes a difference in my business.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
Santiago: One pivotal moment was learning that not everyone wants to see you succeed. It’s a tough lesson to learn. Not everyone is cheering for your success like you are cheering for theirs. Once I grasped that, I learned to keep most of my successes to myself and let the success of our business do the talking.
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
Santiago: Treat everyone the way you would want to be treated, be honest and work to your fullest potential every day.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
Santiago: Research and development. A lot of the successful changes we have made that have led us to greater success [resulted from] trial and error. We ate at other restaurants, we watched how they managed and service at the table. We know how we want to be treated. We watch what others do and implement that in our own way into our business.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
Santiago: Life’s Four Agreements and The Secret
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
Santiago: Live in gratitude. When you are thankful for what you have, you are always rewarded with more.