What does it take to be successful in Destin?
New businesses pop up in Destin all the time and usually thrive during the busy summer season due to the large influx of tourists.
However, the staying power of Destin’s small businesses can be strained during the slower winter months, and because of this many businesses close their doors before reaching their two-year anniversary.
“A lot of that has to do with timing and lack of management, but most of that has to do with planning,” said Shane Moody, director of the Destin Area Chamber of Commerce. “Most people just don’t put in the time to plan before opening.”
Moody said that many new business owners do not fully understand the work that goes in to opening a small busi-ness, or the dedication it takes to be successful in Destin.
“It takes everything that you have, every resource and all the extra time that you have,” said Moody. “Most people don’t grasp that until they get into it. I have so much respect for small businesses that are successful because my mother is a small business owner, so a small business raised me. It takes putting millions of hours in to be successful and those successful businesses still do that every day.”
Long-time Destin local Jeanne Dailey knows what it’s like to start up and keep up a small business in Destin. She opened Newman-Dailey Resort Properties Inc. in 1985 and over the past 31 years has grown her company larger each year.
“I think one of the major key factors is to not overspend and to understand who your customers are,” said Dailey. “Be very selective about what you spend your money on, especially in a business in this area; it’s very seasonal so you have to store your pennies for the winter like a squirrel.”
Dailey said like all businesses, the first few years were the hardest for her, but she was able to survive by sticking to her mission and her budget.
“I survived the rough years after the oil spill and stayed relatively out of debt in my company through my me-ticulous financial management,” she said. “You’ve got to have strong money management, know your mission and stay focused. You have to have a strong business plan and stick with it.”
Dailey explained the mission plan of her business is simple: To provide many happy returns through 100 percent customer satisfaction.
“It’s important to know your mission and what you want to accomplish and don’t be distracted from it with all the other noise coming in,” she said. “Also be consistent in your delivery, that is important in all businesses.”
In addition to having a strong mission plan, Dailey said choosing the right people to stand beside you is im-portant.
“Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you,” she said. “You’ve got to be willing to take the risk. I was fortunate to get to grow with the community, I didn’t overspend and I kept my expenses as low as pos-sible. I still follow that philosophy to this day.”
Even with the positive energy of well-rounded businesses in Destin, at least 16 new businesses have opened and closed in the city over the past two years. These businesses ranged from restaurants and entertainment venues to retail shops and special services. In addition to those new businesses, the chamber reported that 86 former cham-ber members canceled their memberships in the past two years due to business closures.
“My guess is that about 50-percent of our drops are from businesses that go out of business,” said Moody. “Most are from businesses that close within two to three years of when they open.”
When asked what businesses he thinks do best in Destin, Moody said there is no right or wrong answer.
“I think any business can succeed with the right plan,” he said. “Timing is a big part of it too though. I think any business in this community can succeed if they plan correctly.”
Here is a short list of businesses that opened during the past two years but have since closed their doors in Destin.
Bad Ass Coffee: Opened 2014
Brick and Spoon: Opened 2014
Buster’s Old Time Photos: Opened 2014
El Abuelo Café: Opened 2014
LuLu’s Uniform Boutique: Opened 2014
Deep South Sno Treats: Opened 2014
Ella Madison Boutique: Opened 2014
Sadie Lane Revolving Loft and Boutique: Opened 2014
Nosh Eatery & Café: Opened 2014
Southern Mercantile: Opened 2014
X Marks the Spot: Opened 2014
Mother Clucker’s: Opened 2014
All Dressed-Up Boutique & Gifts: Opened 2014
Smoke on the Water: Opened 2015
Hydroxy: Opened 2015
Rollin Smoke BBQ: Opened 2015