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30 Things Every Business Owner Should Know

Friday, February 25, 2011
NASE Members And NASE Staff Offer Insights For Success

In celebration of the NASE’s 30th anniversary, we asked the question, “What are the 30 most important things micro-business owners need to know to be successful?”

For answers, we turned to people who have real-world expertise and experience: NASE Members and the NASE staff.

“Our members are out there every day finding ways to make their businesses thrive,” says NASE President Robert Hughes. “And the NASE advisors are right there with them, offering the best guidance available. Over the past three decades, our members have persevered through good times and bad. They know what it takes to succeed and they’re always willing to share their knowledge.”

Some of the insights might surprise you. Others may reflect thoughts you’ve had about your own enterprise. All of the advice will help you run a better business.

NASE Member Kyndra Miller
Joined in 2006
Owner of Miller Entertainment Group Inc.
Los Angeles, Calif.
millerentgrp.com

1. Have a vision, but remain flexible. I have always had a vision or a plan for success for my company. Although the concepts of focused planning and professional flexibility seem mutually exclusive, they are not. Even the most well-crafted plan should be flexible in order to contend with market contingencies.

2. I had the audacity to expand my micro-business during one of the most serious financial recessions we have had in decades. Many people told me that it was unreasonable to take this course of action during hard economic times. And now I am reaping the benefits of my audacity. So, my advice to other micro-business owners: Be unreasonable.

3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then try again. And then try one more time. The backbone of our great nation was built on the sweat of micro-business owners.

Kristie L. Arslan
Executive Director of the NASE Legislative Office
Manages the NASE legislative affairs program

4. Pay attention to what is going on in your community, in your state and in our nation’s capital. Decisions and laws that can affect your ability to start, manage and grow a successful business are made at all levels of government. If you keep abreast of the economic, regulatory and political climate around you, you can
weigh in on debates regarding key issues that could affect your business.

5. Get involved with professional, business and/or trade organizations. Joining organizations can offer great networking opportunities and help you stay informed on important issues relating to your industry.

6. Let your legislators know how key issues will affect you, your business and your family. Many people think that contacting their legislators does not make much of a difference regarding the decisions of policymakers. Not so! Lawmakers are accountable to their constituents, and as a constituent your voice can mean the difference between good or bad policy.

NASE Member Kim Overton
Joined in 2005
Owner of Overton Enterprises
Austin, Texas
spibelt.com

7. Hire a personal assistant if you find yourself regularly working more than eight hours daily (and some on weekends). Hire one until you catch up, even if it’s for only two weeks. It sounds luxurious, but it’s a smart move that you’ll never regret.

8. Do not skimp on legal representation! This is a classic example of you get what you pay for. And you’ll certainly regret not hiring the right person the first time around.

9. Good customer service can really launch your company; same as bad customer service can sink you.

10. Take care of your staff sincerely and with heart, and they’ll take care of you.

11. Try many ideas. Throw them on the wall and see what sticks. You never know until you try!

Keith Hall
NASE National Tax Advisor
Directs the NASE TaxTalk program

12. Plan. You have to know where you are going if you ever hope to get there. Plan where you want to be, what you want to be. Ask yourself pointed questions such as, “How much money do I want to make?” “How many new customers can I get each week?” “How many hours will I commit to getting those customers each week?” Be specific! Set goals. Then you can fill in how you are going to get there.

13. Concentrate on solving problems, especially the problems faced by your customers and potential customers. If you can solve their problems, then you are a hero, and that means most likely you have a customer for life. Try not to see problems as problems, but as opportunities. This is an attitude adjustment, but an important one. Look for problems. Solve them. They are your opportunities.

14. Reinvest! You must reinvest in your business. Whether it is money, time, energy or all of those, you must commit to reinvesting your resources into the business. New technology! New equipment! New marketing ideas! Constantly reinvest in your business. Put a dollar in and get two back; that is always the goal.

NASE Member Gilbert X. Garcia
Joined in 2004
Owner of Coronado
Appraisal Services
Albuquerque, N.M.
coronadoappraisalsvc.com

15. Never burn a bridge.

16. It’s always good to under promise and over deliver, instead of over promising and under delivering to clients.

17. If you can’t enjoy it, you shouldn’t be doing it.

18. Don’t bring your work home.

19. You must always respect the people in your environment. Professionals act as they must, not as they feel. Leave the baggage in the car!

NASE Members Roger and Sandy Plachy

Joined in 1992
Owners of Job Results Management Institute
Winston-Salem, N.C.
jrmi.com

20. You need to develop an internal support system that keeps you thinking positively through business slumps; that prevents you from being fearful when expenses exceed income; that prevents self-doubt when nobody seems to want what you have to offer; and that propels you to be the creative, risk-taking, confident and bold person you can become as an entrepreneur.

21. You need to learn from the past, not wallow in mistakes, and focus on the future.

22. You need to surround yourself with supportive friends and family who truly understand why you do
what you do.

23. And, in our case, being a husband/wife team of 52 years in consulting, publishing, seminar leadership, and now Internet commerce, our relationship has been the mainstay of our business survival and personal successes.

Gene Fairbrother
NASE lead micro-business consultant
Directs the NASE ShopTalk 800 program

24. Lone wolves seldom succeed! Even the brightest and most successful entrepreneurs know that they
can’t do everything by themselves. Successful people learn how to capitalize on their strengths and outsource the rest. While a one-person business can be successful to a certain level, to really grow the revenue and profit of a business you have to learn how to capitalize on the talents of other people. Your success will depend on how well you choose the people you surround yourself with.

25.
Marketing brings in revenue, and financial habits determine how much the business owner (and everyone else for that matter) gets to keep.

26. Keep your business life and personal life separate. Primarily this deals with not co-mingling personal and business funds or paying personal expenses out of the business. But this rule also goes much further
in today’s age of home offices. While one of the advantages of a home-based business is just that—being
at home—it is important for success that you don’t let the house interfere with the business. Don’t let neighbors, household chores or family become negative factors in whether your business succeeds.

NASE Member Steven K. Huffman
Joined in 2005
Owner of Steve Huffman Training Stables
Nampa, Idaho
stevehuffmantraining.com

27. Over 20 years ago, I moved into a strange place to set up shop. I didn’t know anyone, and no one cared to know me. I had no connections. All I had was the will to work and the ethics behind it. I did what I’d said I would do. I gave a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay. It may sound simple, but it’s not that easy to find today. A good reputation takes time and is only proven by doing what you say you will do.

28. In every business there are crossroads; be sure you look both ways before you make a decision.

29. Experience is never learned except in the saddle, so to speak. You have to gut out your business through all kinds of ups and downs. Be versatile, change if necessary and be willing to ride the ones that buck.

30. Many times I had to do whatever it took to survive and many times my business took off in directions that were completely out of my control. Such is the economic climate we find ourselves in today. I could never have guessed that the horse industry would be in the dire crisis it is in. But so far, I have been continuing to train a horse every day. I cannot help but feel it’s not what I do today that matters the most. It’s what I did yesterday that keeps me in the saddle. It’s what you do in the good times that will help you through the bad ones.

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