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Tech and Innovation

Be Powerful Leaders, Not Bosses

When Club Tattoo was founded in 1995, we started with the naïveté of most business owners. Over time, through many failures, we realized that our passion, drive, and work ethic have fueled our enduring success and been the saving grace behind our chain of luxury studios.  

Integrating these qualities into the fabric of our business model prevented us from quitting or submitting to failure. To us, failure wasn’t an option. We were either going to confront every day with hard work and determination or lose everything. Opening Club Tattoo was a risk, but we recognized that when you have a dream as bold or unique as we did, there’s no alternative, and so we didn’t give up.

Being a powerful leader means setting a precedent for hard work, being passionate about what you strive to do, communicating openly, and finally — giving back. When people see how meaningful something is to you, it becomes significant to them, creating a ripple effect.

Before you start a business, make sure you have a passion

Club Tattoo’s sole initial goal was to create greatness. In our case, we can say unequivocally that we lived by this, never chasing a dream of freedom or money. Becoming rich had never even occurred to us.

It’s a common misconception that working for yourself is less work than working for someone else. Many starry-eyed small business owners have expressed this sentiment. Truthfully, founding a business requires an unwavering work ethic. People see the freedom of entrepreneurs and discount the tremendous amount of work that brought them there. Every great entrepreneur we’ve encountered hasn’t longed for success alone, but instead longed to express a vision, to create something unique and lasting. Seeing a void in the world and not only imagining but inventing what’s possible speaks to the nature of someone genuinely visionary.

If the promise of success consumes you, you’re missing that one key element: passion. Make sure you’re engaged with and passionate about what you’re setting out to do. It’s simply indispensable. Being an influential leader is all about inspiring others to action. You are the role model of your company, letting your dream catch fire and sparking it in the hearts and minds of those willing to share it.

Communicate the good, bad and ugly

You can’t expect employees to read your mind or automatically see things as you do. Communication is often underestimated, but it’s essential to being an influential business leader. Being approachable means meeting regularly with your team, interacting with them personally, and having an open-door policy.

Truthfully, being authentic about expectations and goals is work itself, which can be constantly practiced and improved upon. It took us some time to realize that setting and defining clear boundaries, directions, and goals is necessary. Practicing self-control, empathy, and patience are paramount. Communication is an extraordinary preventive measure to failure.

When Club Tattoo has staff meetings, we start with areas that need improvement. Emphasizing where we’re coming from allows the information to be more easily digested and integrated into the company workflow. We then shift the atmosphere, recognizing the greatness amongst our staff, celebrating exceptional customer experiences, or making a great sale. It’s crucial to express when the team is falling short and when it’s also doing incredible things. Employees want to feel that they’re appreciated and that their input matters. Listening is a vital skill set. Investing in remarkable company culture and teamwork has made a lasting positive impact on our business to this day.

Grow and maintain your vision by depending on your team

Part of celebrating and trusting your team is knowing when to depend on them. If you don’t, you may never progress to the next stage of success. Part of maintaining and fostering the growth of your vision is knowing when to delegate tasks to the correct person or department.

As projects and responsibilities pile up, you realize that you are only human. You can’t do it all. Stretching yourself thin leads to less productivity and the quality of your work suffers.

It’s crucial to know when to let go of the control mechanisms that made you successful in the first place. Learning to let the small things go allows you to concentrate on the bigger picture.

Trusting your team is a sign of strength. Who you surround yourself with speaks to your integrity and reflects your character. When you have people who respect and champion your vision, it’s more easily attainable.

Giving back is a key component of a great leader

Although Club Tattoo has experienced astounding success and made millions of dollars, the most valuable rewards remain the moments we share with family and giving back in a meaningful way. We’d always given to charity, but we’ve changed our approach over the years, now giving as much as we can as often as possible. We want to make an impression on the lives of those we’ve had the privilege to know and work with throughout the years. We can trace some of our most beautiful friendships to Club Tattoo and the culture we’ve created here. Giving back is the hallmark of a great leader and brand renegade.

Our vision of personal success lies in treating and loving each other as family, investing in experiences, as they’re the only thing to take with us. The world needs more role models. Anyone can be a critic. It takes courage to be a role model, progressing towards a better future.

Written by Sean Dowdell.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - Be Powerful Leaders, Not Bosses
Sean Dowdell
Sean Dowdell is known as the Tattooed Millionaire, which is also the title of his first book (2017). In addition to his role as founder and CEO of Club Tattoo, he is a drummer with Grey Daze. He is a frequent speaker to a variety of audiences and has been featured in Entrepreneur, GQ, Billboard, and on CNBC, A&E and more. Thora Dowdell was formerly in marketing and sales before becoming a business partner with Sean, initially in the music recording industry and later in Club Tattoo. Thora is passionate about empowering women business owners through her story. Together, the husband-wife team have authored the new book, Brand Renegades: Our Fearless Path from Startup to Global Brand (Entrepreneur Press, May 25, 2021).

Sean Dowdell is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow him on LinkedIn.