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: Laura McGuire, founder and CEO of Hipstik Legwear LLC. The idea materialized out of Laura’s frustration from years of trying on dozens of styles and brands in search of a comfortable pair of hosiery. She would even cut a slit in her control-top pantyhose to make them more comfortable. Laura realized she could make tights women of all shapes would actually want to wear. After asking women for their “wish list,” Laura came up with a product—Hipstik tights—with a low-rise waistband that sits on the hip (below the belly button) and a “stik” strip that keeps them in place without sagging or rolling down. The sizing is unlike any in the industry and based on the unique shapes of women. Laura and her cofounder and husband Jason wanted to make sure their products are manufactured in the U.S., so Laura “went back to her roots,” finding a manufacturer in North Carolina that employs mainly women.
You can find Laura on Twitter @hipstik.
Rieva Lesonsky: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Laura McGuire: A woman who has inspired other women to be comfortable and happy in their own skin. Confidence is contagious.
Lesonsky: Why did you start your own business?
McGuire: I've worked with entrepreneurs and companies to launch, relaunch and market their own projects for the past 10 years (my husband has for the past 15 years), so I know what it takes: passion and a meaningful idea. When I was struggling to find a pantyhose product that was comfortable, I realized I could be one of those entrepreneurs and make this product a reality for women. Launching Hipstik Legwear has given me a deeper understanding of those entrepreneurs in my past. We build on ourselves with each year.
Lesonsky: Did you experience a pivotal moment on your way to success?
McGuire: Absolutely. My guess is that most look back to that trigger day. Mine was riding on an Amtrak train from my parents’ house, after visiting for the weekend, back home to my husband. I had a rare moment to just stare out the window and then it hit me. The struggle searching the internet for comfortable pantyhose and waiting for someone else to come out with it could end if I just made them! And then my dad (of three daughters) [came up with the name] Hipstik, based on our product’s features and benefits. Bells were ringing when he came out with that!
Lesonsky: What’s the best small business advice you ever gave and/or received?
McGuire: Work with people who share your excitement and can be honest with you; then your job is to encourage and accept their feedback. Without shared vision and trust, you cannot problem-solve quick enough to make a difference. In this case, it’s my husband [Jason] who is my business partner and Hipstik’s Chief Creative Officer, the visionary behind our brand. Not everyone can work with their spouse, but I cannot work without him.
Lesonsky: What’s one “best practice” more entrepreneurs should be embracing?
McGuire: Look for feedback everywhere. Don’t be afraid to ask how consumers are receiving you—could you make it clearer? Is what you think to be the big idea not really for your buyers? Then take action instead of being too proud. Hipstik is a result of us asking women of all shapes to tell us what their perfect pair of tights would be like—and then we made a product to [be the solution] women had never had.
Lesonsky: Do you have a prediction for small business?
McGuire: We’ve been seeing a trend where millennials are making a difference and reaching for the American dream. They are driven to see change and seem to be less risk averse. Small business is meaningful to people because there are real people behind it and their stories are being shared. This is a human story that is going to stick around.
Lesonsky: What’s your favorite book?
McGuire: Oh gosh—reading doesn’t come naturally for me. As soon as I read a sentence I’m already off thinking about something else. My favorite “books” are actually magazines that I can flip through quickly and get inspired: People StyleWatch, Psychology Today, InStyle, Marie Claire and Our State (North Carolina’s magazine).
Lesonsky: Is there a quote you find particularly inspiring?
McGuire: Right now, my marching order is: “Work hard + see results = be happy!”—I found it in a Google image search.