Bravo’s Tabatha Coffey reveals number one trait needed to be a successful entrepreneur — and it’s something you already have
It’s safe to say that the America operates and exists on small and local businesses.
As the internet continues to dominate the retail and service goods market, fueled by the rise and influence of social media, it’s become easier and more popular than ever for nearly anyone with an idea to decide that being an entrepreneur is their next logical step.
But to be the one success story out of thousands trying to make their store, website, service — whatever it may be— a long-standing and prosperous business, is much more of a rarity, especially when family is involved.
Family-owned businesses have been a crucial part of the economy for as far back as history goes, as have the challenges that come with working alongside your family members day in and day out (Read: stubbornness, favoritism, grudge-holding, etc.)
Tabatha Coffey is up for the challenge of weeding through those complexities and deep-seeded emotions in order to make as many family-owned businesses as she can a true success story.
Known for her tough love approach towards businesses and their respective owners, Coffey has perfected the right combination of blunt honesty, clear cut leadership and and compassion at its most human form, all of which has proven time and time again to be successful in propelling business owners and their staff to their full potential.
Coffey’s newest show, ‘Relative Success with Tabatha', explores the complicated relationships and issues that arise within struggling family-owned businesses in an attempt to save the families’ livelihoods and ultimately, better their relationships with each other — And as Coffey finds, they tend to be one in the same.
We had a chance to chat with Tabatha about her new show, what really makes a business boom and why it’s crucial to separate emotion from business when pursuing professional endeavors:
AOL: What makes this show different than your others ‘Shear Genius’ and ‘Tabatha Takes Over’?
Tabatha Coffey: “The difference with this one is that it’s family business. Even if you aren’t a business owner, we all have a family and we can imagine what it would be like working with out family day in and day out. So it’s definitley going to keep you riveted and surprised with some of the interactions that these family members have. The other big difference from the other shows that I’ve done before is that it’s actually three weeks — so it’s a little bit more experimental … I’m actually giving people a list of things that they can do, giving them projects to work through, and leaving them by themselves with me just popping in and out and checking up on them to see how serious they are and how much they take it to heart, how much they really change so that whatever changes that they implement are really sustainable.”
AOL: What made you want to work with family-owned businesses this time around, instead of just focusing on business owners one-on-one?
TC: “The family dynamic really fascinates me and there are so many family businesses in America — they’re really the backbone of the economy. When we think of a lot of ‘mom-and-pop’ stores, they’re family businesses that have been passed on generation to generation. And we’re finding now that typically they don’t go past the third generation because of all the family conflict, and a lot of the systems in that aren’t implemented in order to keep the business sustainable … I grew up with my parents having a family business so I guess it was always there in me as well. And I thought it was something that everyone could really relate to, to look at the family dynamics … how it seeps into all parts of our lives … and the different issues that we carry with us even when we think we’ve grown up and moved past it."
AOL: Why is it important to separate emotion from business, especially when working with family members? What are some practices to keep them separated?
TC: “That’s the number one thing that’s really giving these businesses a lot of trouble, beyond financial and business struggles that they have, as well. It’s making sure that there’s a clear leader. Everyone’s job description has to be really defined, everyone has to know what they’re responsible for, what they’re contributing to the business. As family members, everyone wants to kind of slack off a little bit … so having really clearly defined job descriptions is important.
Someone needs to be in charge to oversee the whole business. There has to be a leader there that is the person that will make the really hard decisions, confront people when things aren’t going properly and make sure they’re holding everyone accountable, and also really in charge of the finances and the day to day running of the business. Making sure that you have all of those responsibilities in places is really important … you don’t want nepotism in your business, it just isn’t going to work.”
AOL: What’s one unexpected trait that you’ve found you need to have to be successful as a boss or business owner?
TC: “From being a leader and owning my own businesses, when I’m dealing with other people and dealing with staff, the biggest trait for me to have is empathy. i believe that [to be a] really great leader, I’m there to see the potential in my staff that they sometimes don’t even see in themselves. And it’s my job as their boss and leader to let them rise and bring out their potential and that means sometimes taking a step back and letting them be decision makers and coming with ideas and really listening to them openly, and really looking at the possibilities. And the way to do that is to have empathy, to understand what they’re going through personally as well as in their business life, kind of put yourself in their shoes for a minute. That doesn’t mean that you’re soft and you’re going to do everything that everyone comes to you for or that you can relate to all of their problems, but you can definitley see it from their point of view … as a business owner, you really have to learn how to take the emotion out. It’s always going to be emotional because it’s your business … there is an emotional component to it but you need to step back and look at things really objectively.”
AOL: Where did your ‘tough love’ approach stem from? Why do you think its so effective?
TC: “The tough love definitley came from my mother. She was a tough woman, she was a tough boss and she was the person that gave me tough love and I witnessed her giving tough love to other people in her business … it does work because, yes I’m tough and i do hold people accountable and I’m honest, but i also want to make people better. I don’t want to scold someone or critique them and then just say ‘Go work it out’ I want to critique them in a way that’s ‘Let’s work on this to make you better, let’s change what’s happening so that you can thrive and your business can thrive or that my business can thrive.’ In business one of the things that a lot of people have a hard time with is confrontation and being honest with people about what their performance is, what expectations you have of the people that work for you … if I cant' be clear with my staff or the business owners … then nothing is going to change, nothing is going to be done. … it’s being tough enough to take the emotion out, to be able to tell someone what they need to do, what they need to change and how you want to help them even if they don’t want to hear it, and then giving them the tools that the need to change things.”
AOL: What’s your best advice for dealing with failure in business?
TC: “The only way we learn and grow is from the mistakes we’ve made. We all make mistakes, we’re human … one of the biggest things is not to beat yourself up about them. Mistakes or failures, whatever you want to call them, they’re really just experiences to teach you the right way of doing something and how you should do it differently in the future, That’s all they are … step back a little bit and take the emotion out of it and look at ‘What happened? What went wrong? What didn’t work? Why didn’t it work the way we thought it was going to work? How can I do it differently next time? What did I learn from this experience?’ and then get right back in there and work on changing it … our businesses are always going to grow. I use this expression that your business should be like bamboo, it should always be flexible. You need to be really flexible in business — some things are going to work right out of the gate and it’s a great idea, Some things aren’t, they’re just going to fall flat. That doesn’t mean that you don’t try it in a different way, that you don’t look at what you’ve done wrong and see how to change it around — just keep moving forward.”
Watch our full interview with Tabatha below to hear about her latest 'breakthrough' moment: