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Fast 50

If I could give a budding entrepreneur some advice…

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By Abby Osborne
Contributing Writer

If you ask an entrepreneur to offer one piece of advice to a new entrepreneur looking to start a company, you’re likely to get a range of answers, including “focus on sales” and “don’t cry too much.”

We asked the CEOs of 50 of Delaware’s fastest growing companies that question and the majority of them discussed the importance of building and maintaining relationships. In addition to that, many of the CEOs talked about the value of perseverance and how integral passion is to your business.

Forming (and keeping) relationships:

Lisa M Detwiler, CEO
SSD Technology Partners Inc.

Get a mentor or join a best practices group that can challenge you and tell the truth. As a leader, you can’t get that from people within your organization.

Chris Burkhard, CEO

There will be long hours, roadblocks and times when things can feel pretty bleak. With support from your family and friends, the stress is much more manageable. When you look back years from now at what you’ve built, you’ll remember the struggle, but you’ll remember the support you
received along the way even more.

Harvey V. Ryan, CEO
Turnstone Custom Homes

If you don’t have capital or financial expertise, partner with someone who
has both.

Dealing with Failure:

De’Shaun Chancy, CEO
Dare to Have Hair Inc.

Don’t look at the mistakes you make as failures. Look at them as learning opportunities.

Neil Shea, CEO
Bellefonte Brewing Co.

Don’t be afraid to fail; you will regret the things you didn’t try more than something that didn’t go your way.

John Boykin, CEO

Take no more than 24 hours to celebrate each win and no more than 24 hours to be pissed off after each loss. Tomorrow is ALWAYS a new day, and the past does not dictate the future.

Knowing Your Purpose:

Herve Hoppenot, CEO
Incyte Corp.

If as a leader you believe and inspire your company and employees to deliver on a purposeful mission, you will achieve your goal, whatever it may be.

Kerry Haber, CEO

First, make sure you know your core values or personal belief system and which of those beliefs you will never compromise on. Second, by building on your core values, define exactly what you want out of your new endeavor — making money isn’t enough of a reason. 

Lee Podolsky, CEO
Breakwater Accounting + Advisory Corp

Honestly, make sure you are 100% passionate about what you do, because starting and running a business is a 24/7 rollercoaster ride. It is not easy, but if you believe unwaveringly in what you are doing, it is absolutely worth it.

Jessica Luppold Galoff, CEO
EJS Companies/ Elayne James Salon

Do it for the right reason. If you value weekends off and working 40 hours a week, work and save. If you value fast money, gamble. If you value people and building something greater than yourself, find a mentor and follow them. Leading an organization is a calling. It’s an investment. Respect the company as an organization you build and treat it as a living organism. It’s a gift to be a leader and care for others, and you need to be a great steward of that gift.

Importance of Planning:

Robert Hilyard, CEO
Hilyard’s Business Solutions

Make a strategic plan. Use this as
a road map to build your business.

Stacy Ziegler, CEO
CGC Consulting LLC

A well-developed business plan will help provide focus and aid in decision-making, as well as help others to understand where you headed. 

Gary Carter, CEO
1st State Staffing Solutions LLC

Research. Look at the market trends, and check with the Department of Labor statistics to see how that industry is growing.


Scott Kammerer, CEO
SoDel Concepts

I think my advice would be to go out there and learn as much as you possibly can about your business. If you see a company that you like for whatever reason, get a job there, learn from the best, take advantage of training and learning opportunities, borrow books written by experts in your field. Then go out there and get after it. I always tell young people not to be afraid to fail, but even more importantly, don’t be afraid to succeed. If you know your stuff and you are willing to work hard, the possibilities are endless.

Kelly Jones, CEO
The Cleaning Girl Inc.

I always provide new entrepreneurs with this piece of advice: Invest in your strength. If you don’t know something within your business, find someone that does, fast!

Hiring Good People:

Andrew Cottone, CEO
Adesis Inc.

Surround yourself with people who will challenge you. Welcome different opinions from talented people by hiring ethical people who are smarter than you. Think differently than you and can augment your weaknesses.


Markevis Gideon, CEO

From the outside looking in, people cannot understand the right path for you. You must realize that you cannot allow others to impose their limitations on to you. Everything will work itself out if you are working
on your passion.

Mac Nagaswami, CEO

Don’t start unless you can’t stop thinking about the idea and it consumes you.

Jay Patel, CEO
Greenhill Pharmacy

Find what you are passionate about, whether it be health, art, nature or finances. Follow your heart. Wake up every morning to follow your dreams. You may not change the world, but measure your success by the number of worlds you change by offering your services.

Courtney Clarke, CEO
Drama Kids of Wilmington

Get ready for a wild ride. The first two years are the roughest. But if you have a product or service you believe, then others will believe in it as well. Keep
the faith.


Dr. Jeffrey Cheskin, CEO
Liquid Alchemy Beverages

Patience. Starting your own company is NOT for the weak-hearted. We work 12-14-hour days; we are covered with tank cleaner; and our “vacation” is one day at the beach when our brewing schedule is light. Try not to cry too much.

Jennifer McKenzie, CEO
Assurance Media LLC

There are many times in business when it looks like failure is the only option, but a large part of a business is perseverance and persistence. In order to succeed as an entrepreneur, you must demonstrate both perseverance and persistence. Remember it is not over till it is over.

John Mouser, CEO

“Be prepared to hear a lot of ‘no’s.’ It’s difficult to go into any kind of market without a lot of experience and try to compete with companies that have been around for 10, 20, 30 years. You really have to love what you’re doing, because there are always new opportunities out there. It’s just a matter of how driven
and committed you’re willing to be.”

Ryan P. Robinson, CEO
Pike Creek Dental

Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone. It is a lot of hard work. You need to be a subject matter expert in your field and work harder than those around you. If you are not dedicated to your business plan and idea, you will not be successful. Success doesn’t come easy, but your efforts will eventually pay off when you see your idea turn into a profitable company.

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