The moment I became an entrepreneur was the moment – at the age of 17 – that I saw something that could be done better, and did it. I had been working

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as a translator and saleswoman at an appliance wholesaler in New York that shipped many of its products to Greece when I thought, “we should go into business with the shipping company that exports our appliances.”

I called the owner of the shipping company and made my pitch. It went something like this: “We’re the number one wholesale seller for 220 volt appliances overseas, and you ship appliances from us all the time. You’re only making 20 to 30% of what you could be making if we went into business together and made buying direct.” Clients came to me to buy the product, and we would ship it through them, and we ended up building Seven Islands Packing Express, which became the number one shipping company to Greece for years.

That formative experience in business taught me two things:
1. Strategic Partnerships are the most powerful way to grow your business.
2. If you have an idea for how to make something better, more efficient, or more lucrative, find who it will benefit, tell them your idea, and demand a cut of the profits! Part of the deal I made as a teenager included a percentage cut of the profits for bringing in clients.

Since then I’ve gone on to create several businesses using the technique of Strategic Partnerships and old-fashioned innovation. When you’re in a business as volatile as the travel industry, you have to hone your skills for seeing into the future, making educated guesses as to where the trends and needs will hit next.

When I entered the travel industry, the rules were already changing with the fast-paced growth of internet booking websites. Then came 9/11, making everyone afraid to fly; and then the recession, when corporate incentive travel was demonized in the media. Well, there went my bread and butter! I had to ask myself what would people never stop doing, no matter what? My answers were: Get married and go on honeymoons.

Of course, people would always want something for free (especially as the economy worsened), so Honeymoon Giveaway was born. Now, years into the recession, more changes are rocking the travel industry, and I’m already developing my next idea for growing my business – once again, through Strategic Partnerships.

In 2007 and 2008, we ranked as the 3rd fastest growing company in Tampa Bay, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal. As a professional business coach, I’ve even been asked by the Tourism Commission of Barbados to advise the country’s resort leaders on how to develop the island as a wedding and honeymoon destination.

My success as an entrepreneur has the same roots as when I started that first business as a seventeen-year-old: Strategic Partnerships, and great ideas. Whether you want to start a business, grow your business, or become the MVP of your office, my strategies can help you live your dream.