‘What was the best business advice you ever received?’
We asked you this question last week, during US Small Business Week – and what an amazing response you gave!
We weren’t surprised, of course – there’s no group of go-getting entrepreneurs and ambitious startup pioneers better suited to answer this question than our creative community. In fact, you showered us with so much valuable advice that picking a winner was more difficult than choosing between Victoria sponge and Mississippi Mud Pie (and you know how we feel about cake…)
Which is why we picked two! Congratulations to Christine Choi, whose passionate people-focused advice was really similar to the way the MOO crew feel about our customers. She says “People matter! Get to know your clients and colleagues, regardless of who they are or what role they play in your organisation. You gain respect by showing it; all the time, without outside incentives, whether it’s to the president of your company or the receptionist who handles the scheduling – good business is maintained when everyone feels valued. In my experience, building solid relationships is the best way for me to learn from others and accept their help.”
Even our customer services team couldn’t have put it better, Christine! Our second winner is Wendy Epner Roe, who says “Seek a board of advisers (friends, family or small business group) to help push you, bring out the best and hold all your ideas and goals accountable.” We loved this advice, because it’s almost exactly the same advice that our MD Richard used when he first started MOO – so we know it works.
Of course, all the advice we received was great, but there were too many nuggets of wisdom to quote here (you can see them all on our Facebook page). So here’s a selection of some of our favourites.
- “The best piece I ever got was, ‘Even the smallest step gets you closer to your goal” – Caroline Tien – Spalding
- “First step to learning something new is telling your pride it’s OK to make a mistake” – Renae Lamb
- “In the photography business I am forever being told to make friends with my competitors! That might sound a little strange, but working this way we all share work around and I know I have plenty of individuals whose knowledge I can learn from” – Charlotte Bellamy
- “Never underestimate after sales service!” – Gail Herbert
- “Every. Word. Matters.” – Christine Barker
- “Do what makes you happy because only then will you succeed” – Debbie Steele
- “Word of mouth [advertising] is best; it’s honest and if you’re good, everyone will know it. I was also told, ‘Never let a bad review keep you down’ – Anita Brooke-Shantz
- “When you’re selling handmade, don’t be afraid to charge what your time is really worth. Many people associate quality with price, so don’t undersell yourself.” – Frayed Fuzzies
- “Say yes to projects a little outside your comfort zone, and challenge yourself. You never know where opportunities might lead.” – Faye Brown
- “Trust your instinct because no one knows what you’re trying to achieve better that you do!” – Amanda Baker
- “Always recognize how many hats you can really wear. As a small business owner you find yourself trying to do everything on your own to save on expenses but two negatives can come out from that… either you’re going to burn out or your business is going get hurt due to inexperience. So be true to yourself and your talents. Learn when it’s time to hire help.” – Earthly Beginnings
- “I met Zig Ziglar in 1994. We were discussing his latest book. He said, ‘Always remember, failure is an event, not a person.’ This has helped me fight through temporary setbacks and press forward to future successes.” – Dan Apgar
- “You can learn more about your business from your customers than anyone else.” – Fi Shush
- “Everybody has a product or service to sell. Figure what makes yours unique.” – Macey Snelson
- “If you wait until everything is perfect, you’ll never start. Just start.” – Kyle Napoli
Some great tips there, as a Mentor running a business Training and Mentoring network, I see lots of small business owners struggling. The advice I give them that has the most impact in the short term is to clarify what they do and who is their service for, in both the written and spoken word.
So many small business owners feel their service/product is applicable to anyone that their message, USP and value is often diluted.
1.Pick your target customer and build your marketing around them.
2. Record your discovery meetings and use what you say (especially those meetings that you end up selling in) as a basis for all your marketing to that niche.
3. Practice your introduction or ‘elevator speech’ and ensure you are getting the following elements in it and it’s under 40 secs.
– Some Humanity and expertise (make sure people like you as well as know you are well qualified/experienced
– Get your USP across
– Highlight the problem you solve, not the product you sell
Answering the question ‘what do you do?’ is one of the most important skills to master
“TAKING CALCULATED STEPS OVER A LIFE TIME, USUALLY LEADS TO THE ROAD TO SUCCESS”- CHARLES R. JONES II
Some good advice here. Many people start small businesses because they have a passion for something but don’t realize what it takes to run a business. Any advice that we can give people before or in those early days will really help their chances of success.
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