Customers should always occupy a place of pride in any business, big or small. As a small business owner, Ms Thomas has got her priorities set right and places humanity before profits. Read on to know how she balances her personal and business life and what are her business ethics and success formulas. Kindly give our readers an introduction to your business.
We have a factory in Fruita, Colorado,USA. We sell wholesale wedding veils, headpieces and accessories to retail bridal stores and online bridal stores. Our clients are based in USA and all over the world.
Kindly give us a brief description about yourself.
Hi, I am Camille Thomas, Owwner, Illusions Bridal. I bought the business six years ago. Before that I worked for Illusions Bridal for 10 years. Since, taking over as its owner, I have produced the most detailed, informative and consumer friendly website and catalog in our industry.
How important have good employees been to your success?
My employees are crucial to my success. I cannot express how important good, reliable employees are. I do my best to treat them right because I know without them, I would not be able to do what I need to do for the business. They are very proud of the jobs they do and work hard to help Illusions Bridal succeed.
What three pieces of advice would you give to college students who want to become entrepreneurs?
Be ready to work hard, even when you don’t want to.
Don’t give up on your dreams.
Always remember to treat your customers and employees the way you would want to be treated as a customer or employee.
If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
I would spend my money more wisely. Be more frugal to begin with and worry about reaping the benefits later when I have capital built up.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Determination, Patience, Willingness to listen to others.
How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
If it is an idea I believe in, I will give it a year before abandoning it.
How many hours do you work a day on an average?
I work 6 to 10 hours a day, depending on the time of the year.
How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Being a business owner has affected my life greatly. As a business owner, you don’t have the option of just leaving when you are done and going home. Your business is always on your mind and it is not something you can turn off and on.
What motivates you?
My family, my husband and children are my greatest motivating factors.
How do you generate new ideas?
I listen to my employees. They tell me what the customers are asking for and we get a lot of new ideas from them.
What is your greatest fear?
Failing in my business is my greatest fear. Whenever I feel fear creeping into me, I try to console my self by remembering that the business has managed to get by for this long, so it will probably be ok for a while longer.
How do you define success?
I would consider myself successful, if I can raise my kids to be good, respectful, hardworking adults. Having a good relationship with my husband and family is also important to me. Business and money can come and go but family will always be there.
What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Listen to your customers and employees, implement the changes they suggest and try to think what you would want from your business if you were the customer.
Where did your organization’s funding / capital come from and how did you go about getting it?
We have procured loans from banks in the past.
How do you build a successful customer base?
Good service, good prices, good delivery and good value ensures a successful customer base. Everything that I want when I am a customer.
Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Listen. Change as needed. Keep your morals when you run your business. Don’t be greedy.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My family is my greatest inspiration.
What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur is being able to set my own schedule. The fact that I can find time to take my kids to and from school and attend their school events.
To what do you most attribute your success? What would you say are the five key elements for starting and running a successful business?
Listening to my employees and customers. Patience, determination, being selfless and working hard is the sure way to success.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
The newest catalog which I have just completed gives me immense satisfaction. It took me 8 months to organize and has turned out exactly the way I wanted it to.
What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
Time. Employees work their set hours, go home and then start afresh the next day. Business owners have business on their minds at any given time. We don’t have set hours.
How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Our website and catalog are the most successful marketing tools we have.
In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
What are some of the biggest mistakes you have made?
My biggest mistake was not saving money when the business was doing well, to get us through when the going was tough. I hope I have learned from my mistake.
How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
My employees pay very close attention to their work and because of this we commit very few mistakes. However, being humans we cannot avoid mistakes and when such a thing happens, we will do everything in our power to satisfy the customer and set it right.
What do you do in your non-work time?
I spend time with my husband and kids, shop and go to movies.
What makes you happy?
Seeing how amazing my boys are and what great young men they are turning into affords me happiness.
What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I have to sacrifice time with my family. I work a lot at home, while we are watching TV or movies, and, I wish I didn’t have to do that.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I admire any business that puts their customers first. I admire any business owner who takes care of their employees and is not greedy with their profits. I admire anyone who has the guts to put their heart into a business even when the temptation to give up is strong.
Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
In 10 years’ time, I will still be working hard, but hopefully not as hard. In 20 years, I hope to be retired and reaping the benefits of my hard work.