Question:Business owners and executives are often given advice — solicited and unsolicited. What is the best advice ever given to you in business, and how have you applied it?
Founder and Co-owner
Clean Air Cab
I tend to gravitate toward two key exchanges I had as a young man prior to even thinking about running a business.
My grandmother told me that everyone likes to know that they belong and have value. Applying this to the employer/employee relationship, management at Clean Air Cab makes sure that we know each and every independent contracted driver by name. And we are the only cab company that treats our cab drivers as our No. 1 customer.
One of my most inspiring high school teachers told me that if I were to ever go into business with the sole objective of making money I would surely fail; I must have a passion that is my business. My passion is trying to turn around an old business model and refresh it with new technology, information-rich clients, informed employees and a green landscape.
Steve Lopez is co-owner, with his wife Ginger, of Clean Air Cab, which they founded five years ago. They adhere to the triple bottom line business philosophy of “people, planet, profit” (in that order), which they believe creates crisp, concise decision making and adherence to the company’s brand.
Chief Executive Officer
The best business advice I have been given is: People all want to make a difference; they want to feel successful, and providing a clearly defined path for them to achieve, a unifying “Rally Cry” around the goals, and the milestones key to win and feel “the thrill of victory” is critical.
Most people will work harder for their group goal — or a team goal — than for any other motive. The onus is on management to clearly define the company’s Vision, the Rallying Cry, and how it defines Victory, so employees can implement those goals and objectives into everyday practices.We’ve created a culture that supports our unifying objectives and goals. On our walls, we have visuals that include our goals and values.
We’ve created a company-wide “Culture Team” comprised of employees from all departments, and they develop programs, activities and all-employee meetings to bring these goals and values to life, giving real-life examples and awarding prizes for the best practices in action. Altogether, this makes the act of achieving and winning a fun and unifying process in which our whole company is involved.
Do not be afraid to get business coaching. I was struggling with keeping up with everything. This was very evident when I couldn’t see the bottom of my desk and the telephone service was shut off because I forgot to pay the bill. I wasn’t delegating and I was trying to do everything myself.
I would work from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. That’s when I joined my first business coach group. I had to; I was drowning.
I learned that I needed to delegate. I started to delegate and my workload lightened. I started to go home at 6:30 and take off on Sundays. I eventually was able to pay a pharmacist to work the bench, so that I could start to work on my business, not in it.
I now belong to four business coaching groups. Utilizing business coaching has transformed myself and my business.