How To Run a Successful Small Business

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How To Run a Successful Small Business

So you started a comes the challenge of actually managing the business and the employees - what are the critical things you should focus on? Well, here are some thoughts from other successful business owners.

Looking for advice on how to run a successful small business?

Certain advice may depend on what type of business you are running. Managing a small coffee shop will require a different strategy for drumming up business and managing employees than what it takes to run a successful small accounting firm. But there are some principles that typically ring true for all businesses across industries and business types. You want to reward employees for hard work and encourage effective communication among staff. You also want to hold employees accountable if they are not meeting expectations. 

With experience comes wisdom. While no two businesses are the same, we spoke to some experienced small business managers who had their own words of wisdom on how to run a successful small business.  

Michael Mitilier, Assistant Director at Iowa Western SBDC.

Michael says...educate yourself!

One of the most important rules that small business managers or owners should follow is to educate themselves about all aspects of business. This does not mean you need to be an expert or do all the work, but understand it enough to be able to hire the right employee or contractor. This will help you set expectations and know the right questions to ask. The best advice I can give someone who wants to start their own business is: Be prepared for the unexpected and remember there are resources out there to help you in every aspect of your business. Don’t be too proud or afraid to ask for help.

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- Michael Mitilier, Assistant Director

John Kinskey, President-Founder, AccessDirect, Inc.

John expresses the benefits of hiring and retaining good people for your company:

I have been able to hire and retain very good people, and that saves me countless hours of work, rework, and backtracking as well as being able to offer superior customer service. Rule #1, employee turnover kills business momentum. I have found that offering above-market wages allows me to be much choosier in who I hire, and having good people pays huge dividends!

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- John Kinskey, President-Founder

Chris Edmonds, sought-after speaker, author, and executive consultant who is the founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group.

Read Chris’s insights about a small business’s culture:

Are employees treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction? Do employees feel strongly valued at work for their skills, enthusiasm, teamwork, and cooperation to get things done and to wow customers? That kind of culture doesn’t happen by default. It only happens by design. Leaders need to be intentional about the way they want employees and customers to be treated by everyone—leaders, peers, etc. To ensure clarity about what’s important, leaders need to create an organizational constitution that specifies the organization’s present day serving purpose, values and behaviors, strategies, and goals. Once it’s formalized and shared, leaders then need to live those elements, particularly the serving purpose, values, and behaviors. When leaders live them, coach them, and reinforce them, there’s a chance that employees will embrace them as well. The benefit? When leaders align all plans, decisions, and actions to their organizational constitution, engagement goes up by 40 percent, service goes up by 40 percent, and results and profits increase by 35 percent. Worth doing? Absolutely.

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- Chris Edmonds

Mary Cochran, Director of Marketing, SleepEasily.

Mary advises ...take a step back from time to time.

Take the time at least once per year, or better quarterly, to get off-site with your top team even if that means just you taking a strategic look at your company. Review pricing, marketing, and sales goals. Check the internal and external factors that could affect the business in the next year. If you don’t do this, the day-to-day business can blind you to things that can harm your business. It also gives you direction to take for the following year.

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- Mary Cochran

Eric Brantner, founder of Scribblrs.

Eric provides three important tips for small business managers:

Communicate. This is a two-way street. On one hand, you need to make sure that you aren't too caught up in the vision for your business that you don't communicate properly with your employees. You can't expect them to read your mind. On the other hand, you need to make sure you're approachable. Employees may have good input but won't share if they don't think you'll listen. Trust. It's hard to trust others with your vision. However, your business will never grow if you can't trust your employees to take over different aspects. You can only wear so many hats for so long. Eventually, you have to pass off responsibilities. Don't micro-manage. Again, it's hard when it comes to your baby. But no one likes to be micro-managed. It kills morale. Trust your employees and let them do things their way, as long as it lines up with the bigger philosophy.

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- Eric Brantner, founder