[First appeared January 22, 2018, on USA Weekly]
Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. It is not easy running a company, especially in a fast-paced, ever-changing business world. Technology advances, new hiring strategies, and now, political changes coming with the new administration, all add to the existing business challenges that entrepreneurs, business owners, and executives have to deal with.
Maximizing profits, minimizing expenses and finding talented staff to keep things moving seem to be top challenges for both SMBs and large corporations. We have been interviewing companies from around the world to discover what challenges they are facing in their businesses. We also asked each company to share business advice they would give to a younger version of themselves.
Below is our interview with Todd Hess, CEO at SailTime, LLC:
What does your company do?
SailTime, the world’s leading fractional boat membership program, has more than 29 bases in North America and Australia. SailTime members share the use of a professionally managed boat through the use of a unique and proprietary online scheduling system. A monthly membership fee covers the slip fees, maintenance, insurance and operating costs. These memberships offer an attractive alternative to boat ownership. SailTime also offers a generous Ownership Program where the owner receives a monthly income, as well as the benefits of membership and complete professional management of their boat.
What is your role? What do you enjoy most about your role?
I am the CEO of SailTime, LLC. What I enjoy most as CEO is bringing cutting-edge products from the traditional economy into a service industry in the sharing economy. It is the challenge of developing a new concept and making it mainstream by educating the market on a new way of accessing boating. It is very rewarding to see our clients learn that there is an option for them to enjoy boating without the cost and maintenance of boat ownership. It is also very rewarding to influence the boat manufacturers who had been distributing their products the same way for 100 years to incorporate a new approach via SailTime and the sharing economy.
What are the biggest challenges in your business right now?
The challenge for SailTime is educating the market from the client to the manufacturer that this is another way to enjoy boating and sell power and sailing yachts. Though SailTime was founded 16 years ago, the membership and sharing concept has only become a mainstream practice in the last three years. There are many companies coming into the marketplace offering a way to purchase the experience and not the product, but SailTime was one of the first. While competition in this sector is good for SailTime, we are also competing with other activities. Drawing the attention of a casual boating candidate requires a very robust marketing and product/service awareness campaign. SailTime’s challenge is to convince the boating industry that boat sharing is good for boating and that the industry as a whole should promote sharing.
If you could go back in time, what business advice would you give to a younger version of yourself?
I would advise a younger version of myself to take a different approach when introducing an innovative concept to an established industry. I’d advise him to educate the industry and make alliances with that industry’s leaders and their distribution networks. Getting them on board provides a faster track to proof of concept and credibility. Having alliances with industry partners also opens more channels to educate the market about the new product or service we are offering.