LIHUE — Jen Chahanovich went into healthcare because her mother was sick.
“I always planned to be a business major. She had terminal cancer,” said the president and chief executive officer of Wilcox Memorial Hospital. “I took care of her during her last two years of life … I really wanted to give back to patients and their families.”
Chahanovich said her experience helped her understand the healthcare industry and provide the level of care necessary in a medical setting.
She was one of the keynote speakers at the second Small Business Fair & Business After Hours event Thursday hosted by the County of Kauai and the Kauai Chamber of Commerce.
Strategies that could help small businesses improve were part of the discussion that attracted about 175 people to Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. Workshops focused on ways to create more profit, boost sales and attract new customers.
Debra Marshall, store manager at AT&T, said she attended Thursday’s conference to learn and get ideas. She said she also wanted to see if she could get her store more active in the community.
“I just renewed my store with the Chamber of Commerce,” she said.
Speaker Lani Weigert, executive director for the Hawaii AgriTourism Association, told the audience that customer service and making a “product relevant to a customer’s life” is important.
Instead of looking at selling a product, think of looking at adding something to their life, she said.
“If you want to help people, it changes the whole dynamic of what you’re doing,” Weigert said.
Key to success, she said, is figuring out what you really love; researching and working on your passion; being responsible and dreaming big.
Marshall said she plans to take back what she’s learned to her employees.
“I want everyone to focus on is how is this product relevant to their needs and to their lifestyle,” she said. “If it’s not relevant to the customer, then there is no need for it.”