New York City interior designer and Black Enterprise‘s 2008 Innovator of the Year Award winner, Robin Wilson, is going 16 years strong in business, after building an international lifestyle brand that generates millions of dollars in retail sales.
The eco-friendly entrepreneur started her company somewhat by accident. As a young child suffering from terrible asthma and allergies, the only relief she could find was through natural solutions. Today, her work is centered around clean design and creating healthy spaces for her clients, which have included Bill Clinton and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., among others. Her hypoallergenic products can be found at big-box retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, and she also just launched a new online store.
Wilson shared her secrets for success with BlackEnterprise.com:
“Make sure that you have conversations with your team on a regular basis to outline your goals. Have buy-in and dialogue to ensure that your ideas are refined and can be executed efficiently without micromanagement,” Wilson says. “But the most important part of communication is listening; just sitting there and staying quiet to truly absorb what your employee or colleague is telling you.”
2. Take Time for Yourself
“This is perhaps the most important advice,” notes Wilson. “No matter how busy you are, always make 30 minutes for some solitude, to get quiet and do something you truly enjoy. You’ll feel so much better, and your work performance will thank you.”
3. Manage Your Cash Flow
“Watch your income on a daily basis, until you fully understand the revenue and expenses. Make sure your bookkeeper is your partner and does not just tell you, ‘Everything is taken care of,’” she explains. “You’re in business to make money, and while it’s important to help people and provide excellent products and services, if you’re not focused on the money, you’re not going to survive.”
4. Hire Outside Experts as Consultants
“Don’t keep a heavy payroll, which can increase operational costs,” Wilson says. “Consider hiring a consultant for bookkeeping, social media, computer technology, and graphic design. You are an expert in your field; that’s what you need to concentrate on. Turn over the things you aren’t proficient in to the experts that are.”
5. Manage the Supply Closet
“Until I put a lock on the cabinet, we were spending three times the amount [needed] for office supplies,” Wilson says. “I learned later that some people were using our supplies for their home offices or school supplies. It is an easy cost center that can get away from you, costing thousands annually.
6. Network the Right Way
“The key is developing vital contacts ahead of time–in other words, before you need a favor or help,” she explains. “Also, don’t just focus on your industry. Rather, expand out to city functions, chamber of commerce events, charitable initiatives, and more.”