Brian’s Ten Rules of Small Business

  1. Stay out of trouble by doing things right. Register your business with the state. Get insurance. Pay your taxes. Follow the law. 
  2. Be “all in” all the time. Running a business, any business, takes hours and hours of dedication, focus, and hard work. If your business is your livelihood and not a hobby, give it all you have for at least a few years. If you’re not successful at that point, consider moving on or working for someone. 
  3. To compete solely on price is a prescription for being busy and broke. 
  4. Be prepared and willing to pivot your business. Sticking to what you believe is good, is not a substitute for changing to what the market (i.e., your customers) want.
  5. Don’t put all your marketing dollars into one basket. Online, print, email, direct mail, and signage tend to have much greater returns on investment than TV, radio, and newspapers. 
  6. Treat your employees, suppliers, neighbors, and community well. Being a malcontent or obnoxious person is no way to gain the trust, respect, and cooperation of those who are essential to the success of your business.
  7. Your customers are not always right. It is your job to give customers accurate information. They come to you because you know your product or services, so be honest and direct with them.
  8. There are no home runs in marketing. Potential customers often need several exposures to you or your products at multiple times in multiple mediums for them to become buyers. Persistence and casting a wide net will help your business grow faster than single flash in the pan promotions.
  9. Customers want value and service most. Offer good value and services, and you’ll be able to charge enough to make a reasonable profit.
  10. Making mistakes–not the same ones over and over–is how you’ll grow. Own then. Figure our what was the breakdown: bad process, human error, lack of adequate directions, bad product, poor communication skills, and so on. Learn from them. Move on.

The best advice I ever got about business was to be brutally honest about everything: no rose-colored glasses, no excuses. Look at your sales numbers; they will not lie. Look at your product or service mix and jettison what isn’t working and expand what is. Work hard to train your staff, and if they can add value (without adding undue stress) reward them. If not, do yourself and them a favor by letting them go. An honesty first policy will serve you well and will help you avoid making decisions based on a faulty assumption, pride, or emotion. 

keys to success