Maxine Clark

Maxine Clark

Maxine Clark, Founder of Build-a-Bear.

"Take your employees seriously. Every six weeks we do Chief Chat at headquarters. Employees can ask any questions they want. We get good feedback and understand what matters to our associates. We also do remote conferences with people in the stores by Skype, and I go to the stores all the time."

"Write the biggest business plan you can. You can always cut it back. The first purpose of the business plan is to convince yourself that it's an idea you really want to do. If you're not convinced, you'll never be able to convince anyone else."

"Understand the value of partnerships. In the beginning, our vendors were willing to make a couple hundred pieces of everything. Normally they wouldn't do such a small amount. But then they benefited from our success. Always ask, What can we do together to get more than our money's worth?"

Fortune, Photograph via Ladue News

Claire Smith

Claire Smith

Geisha Williams

Geisha Williams