Our paths as entrepreneurs, just like our businesses, our unique. While these routes can’t be replicated, there are valuable lessons to learn from the failures, successes, and words of advice from others.
Derek Champagne, CEO of The Artist Evolution and the host of the Business Leadership Series Podcast recently interviewed Frigibar President and SuccessionProof Founder Shuly Oletzky. The podcast focuses on inspiring their audience of entrepreneurs and leaders to be “the best leader (they) can be.”
In the episode, the two discussed Shuly’s unexpected ownership of the family business (Frigibar Industries, Inc.), relating to customers, succession planning, work-life balance, and more during the 41-minute conversation.
Shuly succeeded her father as the President of Frigibar Industries after Sheldon Oletzky fell ill. With no plan in place or previous discussion of who would take over the business, Shuly left her career in real estate. Five years later, Shuly is the President of Frigibar and sharing her story with others, but there were many hurdles to overcome and help needed along the way.
The biggest piece of help came from her employees, whom she consulted with before deciding to take over the business. “It was an amazing teamwork exercise and experience,” Shuly said. While she gained experience and a stronger connection with her employees from the ordeal, she lost important time that could’ve been spent with her father, began her role at the bottom of a steep learning curve, and the uncertainty and stress of the situation took a toll on the family and employees.
Earlier this year, Shuly applied to share her succession story with the Small Giants Community at their Summit in Denver. “From the speech came the term succession proof, and I went from there,” Shuly, who created SuccessionProof to help other businesses and entrepreneurs avoid succession planning nightmares. Shuly shared the four-step plan, which includes having the conversation, making a plan, teaching and fostering, and being nice. Curious as to why being nice is an important aspect of a succession plan; Derek asked Shuly to elaborate. “My dad was a very well-liked and well-loved person….The connection they had with him transfers into the beginning of their relationship with me. If that’s negative to start with, you’ve got a tough mountain to climb,” explained Shuly.
The importance Shuly places on being nice and helping others translates into her philosophy on customer service. “You don’t sell stuff — you create friendships and relationships, and people buy stuff from you,” said Shuly.
“I’m very, very passionate about customer service. I am just as happy to help somebody find the right product even when it’s not ours, because that’s still an experience they have with our company,” said Shuly, who loves the friendly nature of the marine industry. “It’s very social — people in the industry are there because they’re having fun and this makes them happy. It’s fun to be around happy people,” she continued.
The interview concluded with a conversation about content marketing, which Shuly has utilized to her advantage to raise awareness of the handcrafted marine refrigeration products Frigibar manufactures in the U.S. “You have to market. If you don’t market, no one knows you exist,” said Shuly.
Don’t stop here! Read more and listen to the full interview here on TheArtistRevolution.com. Want to hear more from Shuly? Read her work on the Huffington Post business blog.