When Didi Summers moved from London to Hilton Head Island, she assumed business would be run the same way as it was in the United Kingdom.
But Summers quickly learned that things are a little different in the Lowcountry, and sometimes business owners have to adapt to their surroundings to be successful.
The owner of Lawton Stables and the International Riding Academy met a completely different breed of people on the island. She met people who loved animals but didn’t always make it to work on time.
In an effort to better understand the people she was working with, Summers became certified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality inventory and DISC, which measures behavior preferences.
Summers was one of four local female business owners in a panel discussion titled “The Secrets in Their Sauce: What They Did … and How they Did It,” held March 17 at the Don Ryan Center for Innovation in Bluffton.
The other participants were It Matters president Maryann Bastnagel, Polaris Capital Advisors founder-managing director and Johnson’s Urban Farm owner Emily Johnson, and Moonlit Lullaby owner Emily Cohn.
The women discussed everything from business models, networking and hiring the right people, to building a good support system and balancing work with their personal lives.
They talked about how it doesn’t take a “numbers person” to start a successful business.
“If you’re not good with numbers, please do not let that stop you from opening a business, because there are so many people out there that are willing to help you,” Cohn said. “Start now. No sense in waiting another day. It’s just going to drive you crazy, dreaming up this idea that could be something wonderful.”
Finally, the women talked about the balancing act between working, taking care of themselves and caring for their families.
They all agree a good support system is necessary.
Johnson has had to call on the help of her parents to baby-sit her daughter on many occasions. Cohn leaned on family members from a long distance for support when times got rough.
The women talked about what success means to them.
Johnson said having her own company allows her to spend more time with her daughter, and that is invaluable.
“It makes me really happy to have the freedom to be able to participate in her life and to be able to provide her with that life,” Johnson said.
Bastnagel offered one last piece of advice for women who are starting their own businesses: “Always have a cold bottle of wine in your refrigerator.”
Amy Coyne Bredeson of Bluffton is a freelance writer, a mother of two and a volunteer with the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance.