How did you start your small business? What was the deciding factor that convinced you to take the leap?
I used to be a Director of Finance and we were coming up with some new marketing methods. The company chose a method that caused people to lose their jobs. This upset me and I felt that I had to move on. I wanted to hire employees and care about them. I feel that you need to care about your employees and not just the bottom line. People are your biggest asset and giving them job security is important.
What is the toughest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner? How did you meet that challenge?
Getting the ball rolling was the toughest for me. When you decide to start a business, sometimes it is hard to predict what challenges you will meet. You will face many challenges before you even start the business. Once you get the ball rolling, you then need to keep it rolling. There is no room to relax when you are starting. If I stop working or stop giving my full attention, I do not make money. I overcame the challenge by continuing to push. I worked hard and reinvested into my business.
The rough economy in 2009 put me at a crossroads. Was I going to continue pushing my small business or do I need to go back into the regular workforce? I decided to stick with it and it ended up working out well for me.
What were some of the lessons I learned that I could share with other business owners?
Set realistic goals. You need to come up with a good game plan. By setting smaller goals, you can accomplish them. Having goals that you are not planning on accomplishing can just clutter up your time and does not push you in the right direction.
I also found that setting short-term goals for 3-6 months out make them easier to handle. When starting and running a small business, many factors will change. Goals with long time frames may become irrelevant. If you want to open a storefront, what small goals do you need to accomplish before you actually open the doors?
If you were to give a person who wants to start a business one piece of advice what would it be?
Stick to your game plan and do not change it all the time. Many small business owners spend all their time chasing different directions and leads. Others will change anytime someone has a suggestion or they read about a new technique.
Another good skill to have is to understand all the finances. Finances are the most important part of a starting business because that is usually the limiting resource. Keep your personal and business expenses separate so you can see where the money is going and coming from. If the lines blend, it is hard to control the amount you are investing and the revenues business is making. Taxes can get confusing, but you should not rely completely on someone else. Hire an accountant.
What resources do you use when deciding what direction to take your small business?
I do a lot of reading both online and offline. You do not need to go out and buy a million “how-to” books on business. I use the library and bookstores to look through books. I also talk with people about their personal experiences and opinions but remember with all advice pertaining to your business, take it with a grain of salt. It is your business and you need to feel confident about what you are doing. Take the advice and adapt it to your business plan and your business.