The Brookfield native, former national motocross racer and now successful businessman recently shared his perspectives during a panel discussion hosted by the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce.
The panel also featured Sharon Corcoran, sole proprietor of REMAX/Fairlane Realty and Connie Baird, owner of Party Time Rentals.
When his professional motocross career ended at age 26, Cooke was uncertain about the future but wanted to get into a business he believed in.
“I never used a cash register, I never sold anything, but I knew who I was targeting,” said the owner of H.A.F. Skate and Tattoo, on Inglis Street. “Vision is the No. 1 thing that kept me going.”
Vision also played a role for North River businesswoman Baird as she built her business from concept to reality.
In 2009, Baird was assisting her eldest son with wedding plans when she realized how difficult it was to source many of the items they needed to handle decorating. Two years later, she opened a party supply rental business, which continues to see new growth in the wedding service market and other special events.
“I always joked I never got to be the mother of the bride and this was my chance to help all those brides,” said Baird.
Developing a solid business plan, establishing partnerships and seeking advice from others has contributed to her expanding business.
She said listening to the needs of customers and working hard are also keys to success.
“Customer service is the backbone of your business,” said Baird.
The business climate was very different for women in 1988 when Corcoran and her former business partner launched a niche real estate business in Truro. She later bought a franchise and has re-invented the business three times, now as the sole proprietor.
She recalled the research and preparation that was done prior to the initial meeting with a banker to secure funds for their business concept.
“We needed to have some history behind us and we didn’t,” the realtor said. The sales pitch for the business was well received so they acquired the funding to launch and assembled a team of professionals to support the business plan.
“I’m still having fun, it’s like I never went to work yet,” Corcoran said.
Throughout the discussion, other points raised were the benefits of finding mentors, working with qualified accountants, the importance of learning to delegate as the business grows and the power of networking to develop and refine new business growth ideas.
“Be involved in your community and use every opportunity to network,” said Baird.
Cooke said Truro is a progressive place to do business.
“Truro is sick,” he said. “Truro is doing awesome. It’s really coming up.”
Corcoran added, “This town has always been strong on entrepreneurship. It just works here.”
“It’s hardwired for it,” said Cooke.