This is part of the “Moving Forward” series offering advice to small business owners on technology, mentorship, productivity, and growth. “Moving Forward” is sponsored by Ink from Chase®. More posts in the series »
Each year every state in America names a small business owner as its small business person of the year, nominating that person for the national title.
The winners run the sorts of businesses that are the backbone of the American economy, and provide most of its jobs.
These are people who know how to run a small business. They built success from the ground up by founding and facilitating unique operations.
Since they exemplify the success of entrepreneurs across the country, we asked these four leaders to give us their best advice for other small businesses and their owners.
Connecticut winner Chris Runyan, President of GameXChange
Runyan warns against the potential dangers that emerge when business and personal finances aren’t organised.
GameXChange is a franchised retail store that sells, purchases, and trades new and used electronic gaming hardware, software, and accessories. The company’s largest retailer is Wal-Mart, and there are more than 20 GameXChange franchises nationwide.
“If you have cash flow issues, and you make bad decisions, starting a new business can create a lot of stress and most people fail because of that. So much pressure is created when the business owns you in the beginning. Stress and unknowns create bad decisions. Be on top of your money.”
Red Sage Communications, based in Alabama, focuses on strategic marketing, branding, graphic design, and website development.
Some of Red Sage’s case studies have successfully recreated sites for RealTime Medical Data and Oakwood University’s Quality Enhancement Program campaign.
“If you really own collaboration, then you’re open to ideas from every direction. That creates an environment where collaboration’s expected. If somebody has a great idea, act on it immediately.”
Maryland entrepreneur Mike Sawyers, President of 7Delta
Sawyers says focusing on long-term relationships is the key to success.
After 20 years of military service as a Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Army Medical Service Corps Chief Information Officer, Sawyer segued from military to civilian life by working at a small IT firm.
He eventually started his own business, 7Delta, which provides information technology services for the Department of defence and other U.S. government agencies, as well as Sawyers’ former employer.
“It’s about long-term relationships and treating your customers right. If you establish that relationship — understand what it takes to make that customer successful — that will lead to your own ultimate success. Once you win the business, that’s when the hard work begins.”
Karri Bass, President Illumination Research and Ohio winner
Bass says to those who want to maintain a successful career and personal life, to know when it’s time to work, and when it’s not.
The ex-Procter & Gamble marketing strategist launched Illumination Research (@IlluminationR) in 2005, and has since been on the frontier of using innovative methods for evaluating consumer-product experience. Illumination uses virtual conferencing to gauge consumer product experiences, creating a dialogue to launch product improvement.
Bass is leading the way in new market research strategy, juggling a husband co-partner and children, and receiving awards, most recently Ohio’s 2013 Small Business Person of the Year.
“Flex when you work. I think about the business all the time, but I have to juggle when I’m physically working,” Bass says.
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