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Successful Entrepreneurs Give Advice

Each year the SBDC at UNF asks the winners of the annual Small Business Week Awards to share their tips for success.  This year, our winners had these thoughts to share:

Mary TappouniMary Tappouni, Breaking Ground Contracting Company
Florida Small Business Person of the Year

Have a Vision that Infuses Every Day:  Everyone needs something to aspire to. Have a vision that you and all of your staff can believe in.  Enjoy every day of the ‘getting there’.  Don’t wait for the achievement of that next goal to make you happy.

Be Passionate and Purposeful:  It is easier said than done, but if you craft your career to fit your passion, dreams begin to come true!  One of my favorite sayings is “You have two choices, you can make a living or you can design a life.”  This quote is from Jim Ruhn; but, you will find there are many ways that others have voiced a similar sentiment.  Design your life and have a purpose for what you do!

Be Intentional:  My Mother gets all the credit here.  On my desk are the “Ten Qualities of an Intentional Life with Self, Work, Family and Community” as she defines them to me.  Many are included in other parts of this list.  Be true, purposeful, conscious, playful and open.  Being purposeful and conscious also applies to financial matters.  Be smart with your cash and re-invest in your business and your vision.

Breathe:  Take a moment to pause, close your eyes and take deep breaths when things get tough.  It only takes a moment and can make all the difference in moving forward positively or with regret.

Help Other Small Businesses:  You may think running your business is all you can handle; however, you can always find a way to assist another small business or that sales person who stood by you when you were not so successful and who continued to believe in you.

Community is Critical: Two more of my favorite quotes, “Be the change you want to see in the world” by Ghandi and “There is no experience better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up,”  from John Andrew Holmes.  Give of yourself and you’ll be rewarded immensely.  Just be certain you balance this with taking care of yourself.  You need you to be healthy and happy to do your best.

Have a Support System of Mentors and Peers:  I believe in looking to those who have walked the path. I have mentors, both formally and informally.  Some know that they are my advisors and others are unaware that I look to them for courage and guidance.  Actively seek mentors, but be sure you find guidance that rings true to you.  Join an advisory group trusted by other businesses.  As a member of Vistage Florida, I have access to an advisory group who offers me counsel on issues that affect my business and are critical to my success.

Thank Those who Support You and Make Them Proud:  Acknowledge others for their part in your success and stay grounded.  With success and awards comes a great responsibility and strong sense of living up to your vision and expectations.  Thank those who support you!  I was told by a wise person recently that “Everybody likes a winner.”  Remember those who stood by you when you were not so successful and you were not sure you would make it.  Doubt is a human condition – replace that with humility and gratitude.

Client First:  Our greatest asset will always be our clients.  Remember them and consider them first before making any decision in your organization.  Always ask yourself, “How will this (discussion, action, decision, etc.) help my customer?”

Andy HaroldAndy Harold, A Harold and Associates, LLC
SBA Entrepreneurial Success Award

It’s all about relationships: You cannot predict where a business opportunity will come from – get out and meet people – sell your products and services – solve problems

Return phone calls:  our firm has won business because of our rapid response time to a customer – customer feedback “you were the only one that returned my call”

Always “take the high road”:  the high road represents integrity, ethics and how you treat others internally and externally to the business.

Regardless of what happens, you have to take care of everyone, take care of your people and get the job done.

You have to have a passion for it.  Anytime is a great time to go into business.  And always look for all the help that is out there, from the SBA to the small business alliances in your local area.  Theres is a tremendous amount of help out there.

Manish KothariManish Kothari, Prism Lighting Services, LLC.
SBA Exporter of the Year

Believe in yourself:  Every business person has ideas and wants to be successful and make a difference. Many people do not believe in their own ideas and don’t follow through. They rely too much on the feedback/criticism from others and do not try to implement their ideas. Believe in yourself and you will be successful.

Plan and Execute:  This is a pet peeve of mine – I have seen many people plan for a great project, do a lot of analysis, double check and triple check, and in the process get doomed with analysis paralysis. Do due diligence and then execute the plan – eventually it will succeed. Yes, we make mistakes, learn and then avoid them BUT we need to keep moving forward, or we will never create anything.

Network:  Join good business groups, join the chamber, call people in the business, meet for breakfast or lunches, and ask for recommendations, follow-up.  Stay informed and share your knowledge with like minded business people. The more people you know, the more your circle of influence grows and the more beneficial it is for the business.  Do not forget the community though.

Take calculated risks:  If you don’t want to take risks, don’t enter the business arena. I do recommend taking calculated risks. Know when to get out and don’t get so emotionally attached, that you lose the sight of the goal and ruin your finances.

Customer is King:  After all the planning, execution and bringing product/service in the market, understand that the customer is the one who approves or disapproves the product/service. Look for signs, ask for feedback, take criticism as the path to further improve, and realize that customer service will take you a long way. If you understand their needs, it becomes easier to take care of them.

Kim KnappKim Knapp, Dental Temps of Northeast Florida, Inc
Women in Business Champion of the Year

10. Confidence: Not in the vocabulary; I can’t, I won’t. Have confidence in yourself, I CAN, I WILL
9. Baby Steps:  Slow, one step at a time. Continue to succeed, step by step. Celebrate! Continue to improve throughout your journey. Learn from your errors, welcome and celebrate them. Errors make you better at what you do.
8. Networking: In and out of your industry. Making and retaining friends in business.
7. Just Do It: The tasks we don’t want to do. These are the tasks you make the extra effort to learn and do well. Meet the challenge!
6. Dream & Vision:  Never forget where you have been. Get behind the wheel and drive towards your dream. Have a plan. Execute it. Check it often.
5. Time:  Keep office hours. Practice good time management skills. Get the most out of each day, personally and professionally.
4. Knowledge:  Stay current in your field. Know where it’s been and where is going.
3. Passion:  Soul of your profession. Do you LOVE what you do? It’s that driving force that keeps you going.
2. Courage:  To face tough times, when you are worn out, tired, disappointed and overwhelmed with responsibility.
1. Support:  Family and friends. Maintain the relationships. You are the embers and they the breeze that fan the flames. Surround yourself with others who believe in you, support and encourage you.

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