Other than a newspaper route as a kid, I’ve had only two jobs in my entire 46 year professional career. The first coming out of college was working for my father at his wholesale optical laboratory manufacturing eyeglasses for retail optical stores. My dad was old school, built a nice business in the 1960s and 1970s, and taught me many lifelong principles before his untimely death in 1985. However, being perfectly honest, there weren’t 16 days in 16 years at the lab where I truly enjoyed going to work because it was simply a job – a way to make ends meet.
It wasn’t until I created Coast to Coast Vision (forerunner of New Benefits) in the late 1980s and turned it into a company in 1990 did it dawn on me how critically important passion is to being successful. Waking up early every day with the express goal of creating a company to help people save on health products and services kept me going through the tough times and ultimately achieve my dream. There are going to be many stressful days when launching any new company but perseverance, passion, and surrounding myself with smart and loyal people who share the same vision were the key ingredients to growing New Benefits into a 30 year enterprise.
There are no shortcuts to success. The following principles are ones I’ve incorporated over the years and will help any entrepreneur with the courage and zeal to strike out on their own:
- “You can never be wrong by doing the right thing” – It can be tempting to do what’s best for yourself versus others in certain situations, but consistently doing the “right thing” will pay off handsomely over time in your personal life as well as in business.
- Embrace change – Blockbuster didn’t pay enough attention to Netflix and by the time they did it was too late. There are seminal moments in every company’s journey and constantly planning to take advantage of whatever is next, or better yet, being the change leader in your industry is the best recipe for longevity.
- Create a company culture where everyone is engaged and performance is recognized and rewarded – Before COVID-19, our success rate of contracting new clients increased three-fold if we could get prospects into our office to experience the energy and passion of our people and showcase what we bring to the table for customers.
- Continually challenge the status quo – Complacency is a business killer. It’s easy over time to lose the early passion of starting a new business but the common denominator in successful companies is the ability to constantly reinvent themselves.
- The Art of Negotiation – Be fair but firm when negotiating and never agree to take less than your product/service is worth. My favorite business cartoon of all time featured a man from behind looking at a storefront with a sign hanging on it saying, “Out of business. We undersold everybody.”
There are a number of other principles I’ve employed over the last 30 years but I recognize this is a blog and not a book of my life story. So, let me conclude by saying it’s been the privilege of a lifetime working together with our team at New Benefits to build a sustaining business where our future is brighter than ever!