Every business owner has been inspired by someone in their life, whether it's a leadership titan or a family member. Here, five entrepreneurs reveal their No. 1 role model in business and the insight that led to a bottom-line benefit.
Shel Horowitz, Founder of Hadley, Mass.-based PrincipledProfit.com
Role Model: Stephen M.R. Covey, son of leadership guru Dr. Stephen R. Covey
Why: In Covey's book, "The Speed of Trust," he defines trust as a synthesis of competence and character. When you have those two things, people have confidence in you. I believe this is the way to harness the marketplace in your favor.
Bottom-line Benefit: My business took a major upturn when I made public my commitment to doing business ethically. Character is the reason why customers keep coming back to you. And it's cheaper to keep customers or have them bring you new ones than to find one from scratch.
Jack Bergstrand, Founder of Atlanta, Ga.-based Brand Velocity
Role Model: The late Peter F. Drucker, known as the "father or modern management"
Why: "In his book "Post-Capitalist Society," Drucker wrote about the change from the industrial age to the knowledge age. The Drucker-based approach [to business] emphasizes a focus on the overall goal and managing the people side of it versus just managing the parts."
Bottom-line benefit: "When I've applied his techniques, we're typically able to finish projects in half the time and cost of the traditional model. He taught that you shouldn't treat an organization as an assembly line, but instead view it as a group of knowledge workers looking to achieve a common goal."
Teri Gault, Founder of Los Angeles, Calif.-based TheGroceryGame.com
Role Model: Former General Electric CEO and best-selling author Jack Welch
Why: "When I read Welch's book, "Winning," I resonated with every page. I learned that you have to surround yourself with good people and be able to turn to them [for input on strategy, growth, etc.]. If you can't do that, then why do you have them around you?"
Bottom-line benefit: "I've learned the lifeblood of a company is its people, and they have to believe in what you're doing. If someone is a naysayer and doesn't get it, that's deadwood; you have to be strong enough to cut it out because it can be infective."
Robert Trow, Founder of Boston, Mass.-based ROCASUBA and DermaConcepts
Role Model: Long-time Harvard University Professor (now emeritus) David Kuechle
Why: "Keuchle is a world-class arbiter and expert in collective-bargaining agreements, but his [teachings] can also be applied to running a business. He taught the importance of listening and not winning, of trying to find a way where nobody loses face and there's something in it for everyone."
Bottom-line benefit: "Our account retention rate over five years is more than 97%; last year, in a difficult economy, even our smallest division grew 20%. It's because we listen. It sounds simple, but it's actually hard work to be an active listener with clients and colleagues every time."
(Robert Trow Pictured)
Kate Logan, Founder of Upper Montclair, N.J.-based Logan & Company, Inc.
Role Model: Her father, Arthur J. Logan, Jr., 79
Why: "His honesty and integrity. My dad also always worked six days a week and he just gets the job done; I run my business with the same work ethic."
Bottom-line benefit: "As a bankruptcy administration specialist, I get clients through referrals and they come to me because there's an innate trust that I'll get things done. We're available 24/7 for clients, so it gives them comfort that we'll work under some incredible timeframes."
Five entrepreneurs reveal their No. 1 role model in business and the insight that led to a bottom-line benefit.