As a boy, entrepreneur Brad Taylor read book after book about famous American business leaders.
“I was really infatuated with Thomas Edison and Henry Ford and some of these people because of what they accomplished,” Taylor says. “Over the years I started to read about other successful entrepreneurs. I think that it’s so important today to read.”
“Relationships create the credibility and are why people want to buy from you.” — Brad Taylor, CEO, Luxury Home Magazine
Taylor has since written his own book — “Intentional Success: The Power of Entrepreneurship.” A former Sarasota resident, Taylor recently returned to town for a book signing.
Several years ago, Taylor left Sarasota, moved to Portland, Ore., with his wife, Cathy Taylor, and built a business — Luxury Home Magazine. Today, the magazine has a print, digital and social media presence with magazine distributorships in 25 markets, from Hawaii to Tampa Bay. “We’re a very niche magazine targeting a very specific audience,” Taylor says.
Prior to his Sarasota book signing, Taylor spoke with the Business Observer about the business lessons he’s learned during his career as a media entrepreneur and his top advice, from how systems are vital for businesses to the importance of goal setting and prioritizing. Edited excerpts:
- Crucial confidence: In his book, Taylor writes about having confidence and believing in oneself. When he lived in Sarasota, he says he and his wife sat down with his in-laws to tell them they had purchased the rights to a publishing business in Portland, Ore. Taylor says his father-in-law told him, “You’re going to fail.” Despite those words, Taylor and his wife continued their business journey. “We believed we could be successful even though the odds weren’t in our favor in a lot of ways,” he says. “We became very successful.”
- All systems go: Having clear systems and processes in place are key for business success, Taylor says. McDonald’s, for instance, is known for its systems. When someone orders a hamburger, it’s clear what the customer will get, right down to the pickle and squirt of ketchup, he says. That’s part of what makes it popular. But sometimes, small businesses neglect to implement systems, Taylor says. “There are so many businesses out there that forget that one key component, whether in hiring people or training employees.”
- Goal gander: “Intentional Success” also focuses on the importance of companies setting goals. “Setting goals is vital to helping you succeed and scale your business,” he says. “I’m a big believer in visual goal setting.” Visual goal setting means putting up images to represent specific goals in a place that’s clearly visible. Two of Taylor’s key tips for goal setting: “Your goals have to be realistic,” he says. “You can’t set goals that are unattainable.” He also says it’s important for businesses to constantly review their goals. “When you’re a small business, goal setting isn’t just, ‘I would like to be here next year.’ It’s how are you going to get there and how are you going to achieve those goals? You have to have a detailed plan laid out.”
- Top priority: Goals can’t exist in a vacuum. When businesses formulate goals, they should keep other necessary tasks in mind. “Goal setting is also time management,” Taylor says. “It’s also prioritizing your time.” Most people prioritize their day, he says, but it’s important to look beyond a single day and consider priorities for greater periods of time. He says, “In our office, we have this huge white board where we will literally lay out what we want to accomplish over the next month, six months and year.”
- Hire up: The biggest mistake entrepreneurs make, says Taylor, is micromanaging. “You can never grow your business if you try to do everything yourself,” he says. Another big mistake? Making poor hiring decisions. “They want to hire people at their level or below,” he says. “They are afraid to hire people smarter than them.” That’s the wrong attitude, he says. “I think it’s important to hire people smarter than you, because at the end of the day, it’s your team that makes you successful. It’s the old saying, ‘If you think you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.’”
- People person: The experience of growing Luxury Home Magazine taught Taylor the importance of relationships in business. Social media and technology have helped businesses, but they’ve also hindered in some ways. “Technology is so important in running a business, but your business is also built on relationships,” Taylor says. “Relationships create the credibility and are why people want to buy from you.”