At a Hofstra University forum, Susan Axelrod, founder and chairman of Love & Quiches Gourmet, a Freeport quiche and dessert company, took aim at romantic notions about going into business.
"First of all you have to do it for the money, not the glory, because glory will take you just so far," Axelrod told an audience of about 50 people in Hofstra's University Club Thursday evening.
She and two other Long Island women entrepreneurs shared the secrets of their accomplishments during the two-hour event, which was sponsored by Hofstra's Center for International Financial Services and Markets and the Long Island Chapter of the Financial Women's Association.
The speakers agreed that having a passion for a business is a prime ingredient for success.
Esther Fortunoff, owner of Fortunoff Jewelry in Westbury and Fortunoffjewelry.com, said she became fascinated with the jewelry business as a child, when she spent weekends at the Fortunoff department store, which her family sold in 2005. The chain closed in 2009.
"I got into the jewelry business and never wanted to get out of it," said the third-generation jeweler, who launched her online business in 2010 and her brick-and-mortar store last year.
The panel warned about being a know-it-all in business. In fact, asking a question is what led Betty Heiman to found Transparent Health Group, a health-access plan based in Plainview.
Heiman said that while she was working as a radiologist, she became aware of the exorbitant costs uninsured people face. She asked lawyers if she could put together a health organization that could negotiate more affordable rates.
Drawing from her pharmaceutical-sales background, she encouraged doctors to sign onto the network.
"The idea that the uninsured and underinsured need access to health care that they can afford is the basic premise of Transparent Health Group," said Heiman, who is CEO of the business, which she incorporated in 2010.
Axelrod, who has chronicled her business life in a book -- "With Love and Quiches: A Long Island Housewife's Surprising Journey From Kitchen to Boardroom" -- said that business owners shouldn't fear failure.
"I learned from my mistakes," she said. "It's a vastly underestimated learning tool."