As a business owner, you’re confronted with needs and challenges each and every day. From running the day-to-day operations, to staffing to growing profitably. But, what does it take to become successful and profitable longer-term?
Crystal Arredondo, Chair, National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO), is a partner with Dallas-based, MPACT Financial Group, in Dallas, a financial planning firm that manages investments for high net worth individuals. Arredondo’s team consists of seven equity partners, including three who are women. In her role as NAWBO’s chair, Arredondo travels the country to visit local chapters and Detroit is one of 60 across the country. The organization, at-large, represents a collective voice of 9.2 million women business owners.
NAWBO’s Board of Directors is comprised of women who also run their own companies and, according to Arredondo, “Very successful companies, I might add.”
In her role as NAWBO’s President, Arredondo says, “It’s been a privilege to meet leaders of small businesses, elected officials, corporate executives of Fortune 500 companies.”
She runs across a diverse group of entrepreneurs when traveling the country. She continues, “One of my favorites are meeting inspirational women. For example, I now know two Paralympic gold medalists who are now motivational speakers – and both became NAWBO members.”
And in her travels, Arredondo is often asked a simple question, “What is the best advice that you have for business owners?”
Based on various discussions, she’s received many tips to address this thought-provoking question. In other words, what’s the one piece of advice might you offer that is practical yet valuable? So, Arredondo began asking other people this same question and began collecting quotes from successful people running million dollar companies, both men and women, and representing all different industries.
What follows are tips Arredondo has received from business leaders and entrepreneurs from across the country:
1: Have passion for what you do. It will get you through the rough spots if you have a purpose. Or run like hell! Don’t do it. – CEO, Tactical Supply
Arredondo: One thing I’ve learned is that different businesses require different types of people to run them well. The kind of personality, entrepreneurial spirit and temperament needed to run a restaurant for example is different from construction is different from radio is different from financial planning. That’s important. We all touch lives through our businesses. Mark, you educate people through your radio show and blogs. People can hear something from your show that changes the course of what they do. I have seen the direction of someone’s life change through what we do as compared to what it might have been. It’s incredibly rewarding. Have passion for what you do. Or run like hell! Don’t do it.
2. Don’t be a know it all. – Custom Home Builder
Arredondo: This one is meaningful because this was a 2nd generation business and this was advice passed down from father to son. Just as a side note: Did you know that only about 1/3 of family businesses transition into the 2nd generation and then only about half of those 12-15% survive to the 3rd? The advice was “Don’t be a know it all”. Know what you don’t know. Find the answers, ask for advice then make your decision. It’s much better to come across as someone who “knows it all” than a “know it all”.
3. It’s not about how they feel when they walk in the door. It’s about how they feel when they walk out. – Marketing Executive
Arredondo: This one applies to a customer’s experience. If you can keep this in mind every time you are delivering an experience to your customer, you will be leaps and bounds over your competition. #3- It’s not about how they feel when they walk in the door. It’s about how they feel when they walk out.
4. If you are the most valuable part of your business, your business has no value. – Business Associate
Arredondo: There are 2 types of businesses in this world – the kind you can sell and the kind you can’t. Often, service based businesses will fall in the latter where the owner practically is the business. There’s nothing wrong with that and I’ve seen these be very lucrative business. Just be aware of it and take the profits along the way because that’s what you’re going to retire on.
Stay Hungry. You are one month away from going out of business. Adopt this mindset early and don’t lose sight of it no matter how successful you become. It lights a fire under you and will keep you motivated to grow your business and do well for your clients.
5. Don’t put pressure on people, put pressure on the process. – Franchise Owner
Arredondo: If your business has gone through growing pains, you’ll know exactly what this means. You grew your revenues, but your processes probably didn’t keep up. It’s not your people that didn’t keep up. Now all of a sudden you see the inefficiencies of your company as if they are on a jumbo tron. Things are falling through the cracks. It’s very painful. Now you have to stop down and address them. Build processes and then continue to refine them as you grow. Don’t put pressure on people, put pressure on the process.
6. No clue, no problem. Don’t prevent yourself from having a goal just because you have no idea how to make it happen. The path will reveal itself along the way. – Business Coach
Arredondo: This was explained to me like this. Imagine driving on a deserted road at night and all you have are your headlights to guide you. You can see only see the road 100 feet in front of you at any point in time, but the road unfolds itself 100 feet at a time until you finally get to where you’re trying to go. Don’t stop yourself before you even start. You have to take the first step to get to the second one and then the third. Trust and be open to opportunities as they present themselves. They have a way of showing up at the right time.
7. Be brave enough to admit what you don’t like doing or are not good at doing and hire people who love performing those tasks. – CEO, Staffing Company
Arredondo: Entrepreneurs love doing things, but sometimes it’s not the right things. We don’t have any problem staying busy, but don’t busy yourself to broke. Hire people. Good people.
8. Time kills deals. – Business Investor
Arredondo: This usually stems from fear of making the wrong choice. In business, opportunities tend to have a short shelf life. Watch an episode of Shark Tank if you don’t believe this. There’s no shortage of decisions to make when running a business. Time kills deals…. That’s #8.
9. Borrow money when you don’t need it. Pay it back and borrow it again. Keep doing this because when you actually need the money, it will be there. If you only try to borrow money when you need it, you’re going about it the wrong way. – Bank Owner
Arredondo: This is good advice in general. Especially if you have kids that are in college or just entering the work force. People have to build up their credit worthiness, and so does a business. You can have great credit, but what about your business? Has it proved that it’s a good credit risk? Apply the same philosophy to both – Borrow money when you don’t need it.
10. No does not mean never. – Business Partner
Arredondo: I learned this very early on and it’s stuck with me ever since. I’ve been in business 10 years now. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. You can’t be afraid of the word “no”. If someone doesn’t do business with you today, it doesn’t mean they never will. No does not mean never.