Small Business Development Center
At Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry
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Ten Lessons for Small Business Owners

By Chemeketa SBDC

Funny how some business concepts are classic. No matter
what new bestseller spins them or gives them new names, they’re just recycled
chestnuts. Here are 10 of my favorites.

1. Anyone who can take a shower can have a good idea. What matters is what happens after you towel off. Your ideas are only as good as your follow-through! All of us have great ideas. You need to develop a strategic plan for capturing your idea for immediate and future implementation.

2. The #1 killer of small business is loneliness. Get out of the office! Visit your competitors. Talk with your peers. Join your Chamber. Become a member of a peer mentoring group. Get out and see best practices.

3. Profits are what you pay taxes on; cash is what you take home. First learn how to track it – then how to forecast it! There is a dramatic difference between the money that flows through your business and the profitability of operations. Learn to manage by the numbers, track trends and modify by what you learn.

4. Nothing happens until the sale is made. Celebrate the customer! It is often tempting to fall in love with what we do and forget what our customers love. Keep operational and strategic planning focused on your customer.

5. Marketing, first you have to know what it is, and then develop a marketing plan. There is a lot more to marketing than advertising. There is more to advertising than buying an ad. There is more to buying an ad than paying the bill. Plan your efforts.

6. Teams mean leverage. You simply cannot do it alone. Consider your attorney, accountant, insurance agent, banker and financial planner as part of your “outside management team”. Consider your peers and your colleagues as valuable sources of information. Work with them. Find a team environment that answers your needs.

7. Employees are from Pluto – Employers are from Saturn. You must first understand employees before you can manage them. Not much more needs to be said. There are motivation, reward and loyalty issues that are only yours if your employees are willing to give.

8. The day you hire your first employee is the day you begin to make the transition to manager. Take your own skill inventory. What do you like to do? What will you delegate? What are you good at?

Growing or dying – there is no in-between. If your business isn’t growing, it needs a strategic change. And if you aren’t managing by the numbers, you won’t know whether you are growing or dying.

10. The #1 common characteristic of successful business owners – the desire to learn. You must grow at the same (or faster) rate as your company! Don’t neglect your own professional development.

Marcia Bagnall is Director of the Chemeketa Small Business Development Center and instructor of Small Business Management Program. The Small-Business Adviser column is produced by the center and appears each Sunday. Questions can be submitted to Visit the SBDC at 626 High Street NE. in downtown Salem or call (503) 399-5088.

About Chemeketa SBDC

We provide the tools and environment for small business owners to make great decisions.

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