Thinking of starting your own business? You can jump in and repeat history by making common business blunders. Or, you can start strong by learning from small business owners who’ve been there, done that and achieved success.

Sure, you can scour the internet for answers to questions, such as “How do you know your business idea is worth pursuing?” or “How do you find the right investors for your startup?” (And you’ll find many of those answers right here.) But there’s no greater resource than the entrepreneurs who’ve built businesses that have survived and thrived. So, in honor of National Small Business Week, we asked these trailblazers to share a few words of wisdom. Watch the video for even more insights.

Negative reviews can be good for business

“I personally have a saying: Tell me what you like, I’m interested. Now tell me what you don’t like, I’m really interested. And I think we base a lot of our decisions on that. Sure, everyone likes accolades — you like getting patted on the back when you do something well — but really it’s the art of the graceful recovery. It’s more about how you handle things when they don’t go as well as they should. Those are the learning opportunities.”

Andy Neinas, Echo Canyon River Expedition

Don’t stop believing

“Make sure that you believe in whatever business you’re going to do and that you’re willing to give up certain things. You have to be willing to let go of a lot of your life to be able to push what you actually want.”

Spencer Johnson, Sota Clothing

Engage customers right out of the gate

“When I finally pulled the trigger and quit my job, I had my website landing page ready to go, I had all my social media profiles started. I sent out email links to start getting engagement before I opened.”

Emma Olson, Hazel & Rose

The secret to staying motivated

“You’re going to have days when you feel like wow, I don’t even know what I’m doing. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m so stressed out. But remember why you loved it — why you wanted to start doing something like that … you did it for a reason when you started and put that commitment into it. Just stay in love with it.”

Jessie Pavia, Wild Hair

Go boldly and network

“I think it’s super important to join associations. The best thing — better than getting knowledge and with a small price to pay — is networking. There are people who’ve been in the industry for 20 years, 30 years or longer.”

Pete Rifakes, Townhall Brewery

Passion is a key ingredient

“Entrepreneurs are passionate people. I think you have to do what makes you happy, and that connects with passion. And I think you have to keep that going to be able to keep this crazy business going.”

Michelle Gayer, Salty Tart

Keep your business fresh and relevant

“You have to constantly be rewriting your business. People are not as loyal as they used to be. It’s easier to find another place. People are researching your advice while you’re giving it to them, while they’re sitting in your lobby. You have to do more to earn their trust and keep their loyalty.”

Bogi Lateener, 180 Degrees Automotive

Attract customers with confidence

“In this space, you can’t get away with being the smartest person in the room with zero social skills. It doesn’t really matter how many degrees or certifications you’ve accumulated. If you’re socially awkward, clients will not give you the opportunity to engage with them.”

Pete Dupuis, Cressey Sports Performance 

Change how you think about failure

“Recognize the difference between failure and transition. Just because you end something and start something else doesn’t mean you failed at the first thing. It’s just falling forward into something new, exciting and possibly better.”

Anna Hovet, Hovet Fashion Studio 

The road to entrepreneurship isn’t easy, but you don’t have to go it alone. Remember, hundreds of entrepreneurs have been where you are today, and that spells plenty of opportunities to learn from their experiences and stay the course to success.

Got a small business question?

Request a call from a Small Business Adviser for tips and guidance. The conversation is free — not a sales call.

 

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