10 Lessons on Baking Success Into Your Small Business

John Sweet reflects on lessons learned after 10 successful years in business

6. You need friends who are not part of the business

These people are not in the trenches. They have enough distance from your chaos to see and evaluate your life objectively.  They’ll talk straight whether you’ll like it or not: “Your wife needs you to work less.” “You’re killing yourself.” “Hire a sales guy.” “Don’t buy that building.” “You’ve got too much debt.” Good friends are invaluable.

7. Be your own landlord

If you’re a normal business there’s likely to be greater long-term value in real estate than in your business.  As soon as your business is viable, consider buying your own property.  If you’re a destination business, move to a crappy part of town and make it better.  We bought a dilapidated building on a rundown street as near downtown as we could.  More people and businesses have come to our area, values are going up, and we’re on our way to owning a significant asset.

8. Have long term goals

Write down long-term goals, then tape them up somewhere you’ll see them every day, or at least several times per week. When they change, change them on paper, and repost them.  We just took down our “Debt Free By 10 Year Anniversary” signs.

9. Grow Better

Once you reach a certain size, consider growing better instead of bigger. For us that was one million dollars in sales. At that level we turned our attention to getting more efficient in production and distribution, replacing worn out equipment, and giving better service to existing customers.

10. Always Be Investing

In your staff. In your community. In your family. In your health. In your physical space.  In good conversations. In brainstorming and envisioning. In the future. It’ll take a few years, but the returns on these investments will make your professional and personal life much more fulfilling.

Source: Niedlov’s Breadworks

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