Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Sean Tran, Owner of Santa Barbara Surf School, located in Santa Barbara, CA, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We are a surf school that offers private and group surf lessons for all ages. Our goal is to provide surf lessons for any clients that are interested in surfing for the first time or improving their surfing skills.

Tell us about yourself

Surfing is a sport that continues to grow every year. I noticed the number of people who start surfing struggle because they are not familiar with the basics that are needed to progress.

This includes the proper board, to begin with, the best beach to learn at, and the knowledge on how to read forecasts in order to choose the best time to go surf (including understanding the swell, swell direction, winds, and tides).

This motivated me to start this business and provide beginners with the knowledge and etiquette needed to safely enter the ocean and progress their surfing skills.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

My biggest accomplishment with Santa Barbara Surf School is the feedback and continuous growth of clients that have been increasing over the years. Seeing our clients accomplish their goals and be able to stand up and ride a wave during their first lesson is very rewarding.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

One of the biggest challenges when starting this business was competing with other surf schools and making sure that we could provide the best service that would make us excel overall. In order to do this, I had to make sure I had strong instructors, top-of-the-line equipment, and organization over the whole business so all operations ran smoothly.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

1. Stay motivated and work hard.

  • Even when things get tough, the only way to pull through and make the business successful is to stay motivated and give 100 percent in everything you do for the business.

2. Strong customer service and understanding the customer needs.

  • Being able to provide top-of-the-line service and understanding customer needs will bring good feedback to the business.

3. Having empathy and compassion for your employees.

  • Your business is only as strong as your team. Being able to work well with your employees and understanding their needs will make them respect you and keep them motivated to work hard. Having your employees respect and see you as a team member rather than just the boss provides a strong relationship that will help the overall business excel.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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