MN: What do you look for in employees you hire and why are these skills or behaviors important to the success of your business?
MLD: Hunger! Employees who work for Oria’s O’Shay have to want to move forward before I hire them. They have to have aspirations. It’s hard to motivate others. It’s enough to motivate yourself. I look for employees who already have strong self-motivation.
MN: Much has been made of mentoring. Do you work with mentors to hone and sharpen your business skills? If not, how do you stay on the cutting edge of industry and market changes, new ways to engage other business owners, etc.?
MLD: Yes. I stay in constant contact with likeminded people who love sharing, people who are genuine about helping you. My mentor is the owner of Morning Glory. He’s a multi-millionaire now. He is my mentor because when I first started out I went to an event in North Carolina. I had all my products (lotion, lip gloss, etc.). He approached my booth and said, “You have a lot of money on this table.” He was just starting out himself at the time. We kept in touch. He shared a lot with me. And now he owns his own beauty supply store. To show you how things go full circle, he’s featuring my products in his beauty supply store.
MN: Share three must-do tips with Madame Noire readers who are passionate about starting or expanding their businesses, tips that will help them to generate one million dollars in their businesses for the first time?
MLD: I’ll share the same advice I received. Find one thing and only one thing to focus on. Second, be true to your passion. Don’t allow other distractions to become attached to you. People not meaning harm will ask you to do things that take your focus off your goal. Stay grounded on your dream. Lastly, I want everyone to know achieving a dream is lots of work!
MN: What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs managing small businesses who want to land contracts with large companies but who feel reluctant to do so for fear that they will be rejected due to the size of their firm?
MLD: Challenge yourself when it comes to contracting with larger companies. I didn’t know all the details about Whole Foods or how big the company was. All I knew I wanted was that I wanted to have Oria’s O’shay on their store shelves! You have to start somewhere. The know how takes away fear. Map out a plan if you have to. But eventually, you have to walk beyond the fear and ask. My publicist is working with CVS to get Oria’s O’Shay in their stores. I don’t know how that’s going to turn out, but I also know that I’d never know if I didn’t ask. It’s also important to understand the price point for your products so you get your products in the right stores.
MN: What’s next for Maria Lee Driver and Oria’s O’Shay? Where would you like to see yourself and your company two to three years from now?
MLD: In the next two to three years I want Oria’s O’shay to be a household name.
Rhonda Campbell (http://www.chistell.com), an East Coast journalist, is the owner of Off The Shelf radio and publisher of the books, Long Walk Up and Love Pour Over Me.