The Best Advice I’ve Learned Running My Business…
Getting ready to start a business? Whoo hoo for you!
Are you ready to jump in but not sure where to start or what you’re getting yourself into?
We can honestly say that the best way to learn is to learn from others who have been in your shoes. Often we don’t want to listen to others and take their advice mostly because it’s a pride thing and we think we know it all. BUT at some point you have to realize that when people offer you advice, you most definitely need to take it and apply it. Don’t think for one second you have it all figured out because you don’t.
Here are tips from small business owners and entrepreneurs who have been paving their way with success while also falling flat on their face at times…
“Don’t go at it alone, get a support system. We constantly bounce ideas of each other. If ones down the other is there for support.” -Karen Rapport, Feel the Hugs
“The hardest lesson I have had to learn is that “I can do anything” doesn’t mean ‘I can do everything’. In my case it wasn’t even so much about a resistance to delegating or budget, just a genuine misconception that because I can do something, it should land on my plate. Sometimes because I felt like it would take longer to teach someone than to do it myself — which may have been true of the first time, but by the fifth time, it would have taken far less time to have taught it in the first place. It also made me a bottle-neck on far too many projects.” -Gisela McKay, Natural Health Care Canada
“No business plan survives contact with reality, so instead of spending a lot of time planning your business get out there and start building! I spent too much time trying to plan, only to find out that the plan is thrown out the window at first contact with the customer.” -Matthew Richter-Sand, NXFIT
“Learn as much as you can so you don’t have to outsource every little thing needed. If you don’t you can quickly see your cash reserves melt away.” -Maciej Fita, Brandignity
“Outside of understanding your industry as much as possible, it’s important to understand that you must continue to learn an seek advice from successful business owners. Don’t look at competitors solely as enemies, rather create relationships and learn from their mistakes. Learning what obstacles to avoid early on help prevent failure and lead you to profitability faster.” -Mark Simmons, Mixed Digital
“They say ‘Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.’ What “they” neglect to add is that means everything you once loved then becomes a job. Think long and hard if you are ready for the consequences of that before you start.” -Alina Adams, Alina Adams Media
“After fourteen years of running a small business, the best advice I’d share is to focus on business development. A business will fail without revenue, even if it is housed in a great space and uses great accounting software. Make the cash register ring…” -Paul Charles, Paul Charles and Associates
“Give frustration a time limit. No matter what goes wrong in the course of the workday, I give myself exactly ten minutes to be upset about it and then it’s time to drop it and move on. Self-pity is not a business strategy.” -Nathan Hunt, Dressler Advertising
“Forget the Golden Rule, there is no guarantee that your preferences match those of the people around you .. your customers, your employees, your friends or your family. Observe, adapt and ask when necessary. Collaboration and co-operation combined with praise and acknowledgement will help you to build powerful relationships. Treating people with disdain, disregarding their needs, disrespecting them as people will not get you where you want to go – no one can give their best when living in a state of fear.” -Anne Miner, The Dunvegan Group
“Never assume that whoever you hire is going to just do it right because this or that is something that they do daily. thorough explanation must be addressed always!” -Holly Xerri, Camibands
“I learned that the first 3 years are the roughest. You’ll want to quit every single week while you’re in business. Lots of business seem to quit before the 3 years mark, without realizing they were so close to becoming profitable. The temptation to quit is strong, when your friends are driving nice cars, going out to eat at nice places – and you’re stuck driving a rusty Camry, living with your parents and making peanut butter sandwiches. After 3-4 years things start flowing and you’re making 5 times more than what you were making at your previous job – with less work. As cliche as it is, hardwork pays off…just wait 3 of the toughest years of your life.” -Jovim, Inoprints
“The best advice I can give someone is that you need to do the marketing for your business when you first start out. We paid some people a lot of money and got no results and doing it on our own, we’ve gotten good results. So try people out before you buy into anything they sale. We also learned how to market and started a marketing company as well.” Michael Flanigan, Expressionary
“The world is full of talented underachievers. Having the right attitude and getting the work done is the only way to succeed. It will take time, more than you anticipate at first but with perseverance your hard work will lead to success in any endeavor.” -Christopher Wells, Restaurant Building Blocks
“I have learned to be honest, direct, god fearing in business whereas it transcends and resonates to our clients that they are in good hands. In todays harsh business environment, it is best to help, advise appropriately and not take advantage of customers or staff. Being kind, providing excellence and giving back to your community will make you happier and more successful over any other business tactic.” -Jim Angleton, AEGIS FinServ Corp.
“Hit the ground running, because days get more and more expensive and sales will not generate themselves” – one other piece of advice would be “Develop a product that you truly love and believe in…it will make the selling process and sleeping at night so much easier.” -Matthew Levey, FIELD TRIP Beef Jerky
“It’s so easy when you’re first starting out to listen to your mentors, friends and family who are giving you tons of advice for the product you’re building. You, as the founder and as the person passionate enough to devote your life to your business, know what is best for the business you are building. Listen to advice, but follow your instinct and gut. More often then not, you’re on the right path. Don’t let others diverge you from your core goal!” -Stacey Ferreira, MySocialCloud.com
“You should learn every part of your business BUT you should pass off the tasks you’re less good at to others. It’s your job to know what’s going on and how to handle each step of the process but you should delegate a variety of tasks to other strong professionals in order to maximize your time and take your business as far as it can go!” -Kathryn Vercillo, @KathrynVercillo
“Be responsive and engaging with clients, don’t keep them waiting. Always be honest and make sure clients feel like they know everything that’s happening, keep them in the loop. Show them you’re sympathetic to their needs and that you care, compassion and empathy are appreciated.” -Cristina Twigg, Easy Care Sitters
“It’s finding a web platform that is easy and one you can work with YOURSELF. NEVER rely on others for that….After 2 years I am now exhaling and ‘talking’.” -Sarah Baldwin, Goodnighties
“Return ALL calls/emails the same business day. It’s amazing how many opportunities are lost simply because the person didn’t respond in a timely manner.” -Amy Creel, Smart Mom LLC
“Always do the scary stuff first. You’ll feel better for having tackled it and it sets a good tone for the rest of the day. My other piece of advice is if you are having trouble making a decision, then you probably need further clarification. Don’t be afraid to go back and ask more questions.” -Nicole Creona, LA Writers Group
“Irrelevant of your industry, the best marketing you can get is by creating a product worth talking about. That happens from the very beginning. Make it the biggest, smallest, oddest, funkiest, dirtiest, prettiest or fugliest around and you’ve got something worth your team’s time.” -Dane Homenick, The Berzapp Lab
“Beware of new business partnerships. Make sure that you weigh benefits of the revenue versus long-term commitment with a partner who may not have the same business goals.” -Sulay Renee‘, Sumptuous Sulay Plus Apparel
“You need to fail quickly. If you think you know what’s going to work in any aspect of your startup, you are wrong.” -Chuck Gordon, Sparefoot CEO
“Don’t make important decisions (especially large cash outlays) in haste - like I have to jump on the bandwagon now otherwise it will be gone! There will be more bandwagons coming down your street, now that they know your street is open.” -Tina Chan, Powbab, Inc.
“LEARN TO SELL. Great selling can overcome bad marketing, but great marketing can never overcome bad selling.” -Mattison Grey, MattisonGrey.com
“Not all customers are all customers are good customers so NEVER be afraid to say no and say it QUICKLY. Generally you know almost immediately if it’s a bad fit, so move on (kind of like dating).” -Michael Bremmer, Telecom Quotes
“Choose your partner wisely. I dove into this venture headfirst with my best friend whom I have known for 18 years. I spend more time with him than I do with my wife and are relationship is quite stressful. The only reason we have been successful is b/c we were known quantities going in. We knew exactly what the other person was like – there strengths and their weaknesses. While the business dealt us surprises every day, my partner was not one of them. Every venture needs a base to build the business on top of, and a well considered partnership is the best one IMO.” -Anthony Pigliacampo, Modmarket
“You can not be all things to all people. Yes, it would be great to say you have a product or service that anyone would like, but by trying to please everyone you end up pleasing no one. Choose your target and stick to it!” -Kelly Green, Insider Branding Secrets
“The best piece of advice I can give to someone that I learned through my business is that you want to release your product early and often. In other words, don’t wait until YOU think it is perfect. The truth is that the consumer doesn’t know your vision for the future. You can always add features later. It is more important to get the product out to the target user. You’ll find they often will be able to provide great feedback for you to use moving forward. You also don’t want to miss the opportunity in the marketplace. If you are striving for perfection in the first release, you likely will never get off the ground.” -Corey Leff, spendLO, LLC
“Do not wait for someone to give you permission to start your business/idea. With access to the internet and a little spark, anything you want to accomplish is possible. No more excuses. Start today!” -Tim Doyle, TheTwovet.com
“My best advice to someone would be to do your homework. Whatever aspect of a business with which you’re dealing, you need to understand the steps you need to take to be successful, whether it’s filing the proper legal documents or handling unhappy customers.” -Emily Trower-Young, Sustainable Shanti
“My advice is always to my sales reps/ jewelry consultants who start a business of their own with us, is not to give up. To ask themselves daily “What can I do differently?” Each day to get the results they want and also to ask themselves how they can stand out above all the others in this field.” -Denise Snow, Bella Shaye
“Simply put: recognize and embrace the responsibilities you have to those but for whom you wouldn’t be in business in the first place-your customers, lenders, vendors, investors (which may consist of family members) and
employees.” -Mitchell D. Weiss, MitchellDWeiss.com
“The most important part of starting a business is not giving up. Setbacks or changes of scope are inevitable, but if you truly put all your effort in to your endeavor and adapt to the challenges, you can’t possibly fail.” -Tony Faoro, ShowThis
“I learned that “no” is a not yet!” -Ula Robertson, At Your Service NY Catering
“Owning my own business has been like a mirror into my own personality. Owning a business teaches you who you really are, your faced with all your weaknesses and also discover your strengths. It also makes you stronger. You learn how to overcome challenges in life outside of business, and in general, I think it helps you become more compassionate to people. You realize you have the ability to create whatever you want, and the only thing that ever stops you, is your self. Back to the mirror aspect. My commitment to be an entrepreneur has allowed me to become financially free at the age of 25, (Im 32 now) and has given me the freedom (both financially and with the courage it helped me develop) to travel throughout South America for the last three years. I couldn’t imagine having a job. I would rather sleep under a bridge than go work for someone else.” -Nate Bunger, Link Builders, Inc.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day”!! Listen to everyone’s advice but go with your heart. Take one day at a time, each day brings a new learning experience. When you “mess up”, which you will time after time, take it as a learning experience. What keeps me going??? If I would give up, I would always think, “what could have been”! Last of all, when doors close, many new windows are opened which equals FAITH!!” -Barb Przybylowicz, SafetyBunns LLC
“Hire an assistant as soon as you can and hire the best person you can, even if they are expensive*: When I finally hired a virtual assistant my business took off. Before that, I was trying to do everything myself (newsletters, marketing, shopping cart, administrative) and it limited how much time I could spend with clients or creating products/programs/services (and, therefore, income). I did not hire the cheapest but someone with experience who was fairly expensive. I see so many people “go through” assistants. I’ve had the same assistant for many years and hope to work with her as long as I am in business.” -Lisa Tener, Write Your Book
“Before starting a business it is very important to create a business plan that includes the following but not limited to: – Mission – Vision Understand the expectations and metrics being measured. Understand risks and develop a risk mitigation plan to uncover opportunities. Develop a contingency plan for business execution.” -Joseph Bostic Jr., Retention Frontiers Inc.
“Hire people smarter than you.” -Eric Loyd, Bitnetix
“Build a community around your brand and make it authentic. People want to see you succeed, support your business, and spend money with you when they see they are part of a community of people who are passionate about the same things.” Allison Griffith, Refunk My Junk
“You can’t do it alone. Every successful person has a “dream team” of people that support them. Learn to delegate and trust others to help you.” Wayne Hoffman, Hoffman Entertainment
“Lack of proper funding will kill even the best business (idea). I learned from launching a second business with 10x the funding of my original business that you can’t just throw money at a problem. Whether it was my lack of direct involvement or simply hiring the wrong people, I lost money the first year of business when I’d successfully grown my original business relatively easily the first few years (when taking a salary is a luxury vs. a requirement).” -Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.
“Establish yourself as an expert in your field! This will set you apart from your competiton. This may include reading trade magazines to stay abreast of what new in your field, regular blogging, writing a book, securing media placements, attending seminars, and more. Surround yourself with collegues, professional advisors, vendors, and employees who are as smart (or smarter), as motivated, as passionate, as professional as you! Never be afraid to say “NO”!” -Dr. Catrise Austin, New York City Cosmetic and General Dentistry
“There is no perfect job out there. I love my job, my life, I make my own schedule, offer my own service and am so personally satisfied by the work I do. But Monday is still Monday. Life and the work you do is all about the mind frame that you bring to it. You can make a bad job sustainable just by changing your mind frame, thinking outside of the box, and offering a part of yourself that you have blocked. Or you can figure out what you really want and go for it. Your desires are placed in your heart for a reason, so create a plan and strategy and then Go for it!” -Sophie Skover, The Food Craving Coach
“Do not give up. Fortune doesn’t happen over night, it requires hard work and time, lots of time. If you don’t see tremendous results straight away, don’t worry. Just keep on doing what you do best: be consistent, stubborn - hustle and don’t give up.” -Katya Barry, KatyaBarry.com
“If your business offers a service, require a retainer or percentage of the fee before beginning the work, no matter who the client is.” -Lori Nash Byron, Famous in Your Field
“If you want something – ask for it. Make people tell you “No”. Whether it’s your mother, your client or a vendor nobody wants to tell you “No.” -Toma Clark Haines, The Antiques Diva & Co.
“The key is passion and pain. Find something that you are passionate about that is a pain for other people. I am passionate about finance, most people hate finance, this is one of the reasons why my business, Lexion Capital, has been such a success. Find a point of pain and solve it.” -Elle Kaplan, Lexion Capital
“I have learned that standing behind your product or idea is the most important thing you could do; after all, if you aren’t your number one cheerleader, who will be? You need to be fully committed and passionate about what you do to make it happen – after all, it takes time, effort, and hard work to successfully grow!” Sarah Hudson, Little Idea
“No amount of classes or school can truly prepare you for running your own business. Common sense, gut feelings, and interpersonal skills are what are going to get you through your first few formidable years. Use your common sense every step of the way- trust no one, and if it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Follow your gut about people, places, situations, and circumstances- only you know you and your business, nobody else. Be yourself, put yourself out there, but be able to read and pickup on social cues and others’ body language. 70% of being a good businessman is being good with people, 30% is actually business (especially when you’re starting up). You want people to enjoy being around you, enjoy hearing about your product, and eventually trust in you enough to invest their own time, money, and resources. Be yourself, don’t over-complicate situations with business jargon, trust few, and learn how to sell yourself over your product/service.” -Dustyn Shroff, One Concierge
“Work hard, but have balance. Owning your own business takes A LOT of hard work and focus – managing the P&L, employees, marketing, and customers is a lot of work. It is also important to occasionally get away from all the focus on work. I find that if I work hard and really focus, some of the most productive time is away from the office. That gives me time to reflect and gain perspective.” Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com
“I think it’s important to be extremely focused and do not listen to all the distractions. Of course, there will be many bumps along the way, but don’t get distracted by the zigzags in the road. Keep focused, have a vision and make sure your passion is very clear! If you believe in something, other people will too and you can make it happen!” -Lyss Stern, DivaLysscious Moms
“Find out what inspires and motivates you, the thing that gets you really excited and then turn that into a business. Setting up a business will be hard work, you need to love what you and then you can get paid for doing
it.” -Christopher Delaney, Employment King
“Cash isn’t king, cash flow is king. For a business, money is like water: healthy businesses have money flowing in and out in a sustainable stream. Stagnant water that someone dumps a new bucket into every once in a while isn’t healthy and doesn’t build momentum.” -Luke Richey, Gravity Jack
“You’re not in business by yourself just because you are in business for yourself. As an entrepreneur, I learn the best tips to grow my company by joining amazing networking groups where the main goal is to help one another succeed.” -Dylan Glanzer, Parties by Dylan
“When launching a business be sure to develop a differentiator for your business. For us it was process improvement. In 1998 when we started in the printing industry full color business cards were selling at an average market price of $200. We knew that we could improve on the process and provide a high quality product at a lower price. We developed a process that reduced expenses and allowed us to sell business cards for $10.” -David Handmaker, Next Day Flyers
“Think big but start small. You don’t want to get in over your head at the beginning because you will panic, make a bad decision and jeopardize your reputation. Just start with what you know you can handle and make a spreadsheet with all your great ideas that you want to incorporate one day. Then set goals on when you realistically think you can make those implementations and what it will take to do so. Remember that the tortoise always wins!” -Laurie Morse-Dell, Pup’s Place
“I was told by a very another seasoned female business owner to always make my own deposits and write my checks. That advice has stuck in my head. In many networking meetings that I attend, I hear the horror stories of employ theft and embezzlement from other biz owners often.” -Gemma Holmes, Holmes Pest Control
“The best advice I could give someone about what I’ve learned is: 1) Like renovating a house, it’s going to take you twice as long and cost you twice as much just to get up and running; 2) Be prepared to be unprepared, there are going to be so many things you can’t predict no matter how much research you have done so be ready to adapt; 3) Give back, I don’t believe in karma, I just believe it makes everything better if you help your customers, your community, or your causes.” -Briana Miriani, The Merci