Last week my post profiled a local New Jersey small business, the Flooring Solution. The questions covered everything from Henry and Liz O’Hern’s impressive corporate backgrounds to the most unforeseen hurdles that were placed in their path to success. Bottom line, running a small business is full of unknowns and my interview uncovered some important wisdom.
Utilize the skills you have learned in your past and use them to your advantage. Your professional background can prove to be extremely important regardless of what it is or was. Henry spoke to how he is able to fill orders easily because of his prior experience on the stock market and Liz was prepared to obtain a warehouse lease without trouble. There are endless parallels that can be made between your professional past and running your new small biz.
To go along with this, do not let your background hold you back. You have probably read or heard about plenty of small businesses started by an entrepreneur with little to no experience in that industry in their life. If you are choosing a business to enter that is your passion, easy. If not, narrow down your choices to something you know you will be successful at.
Don’t forget to speed up the learning curve by utilizing resources available to you. While it may cost considerable money, these resources may help you learn the ropes faster than you could have imagined. The O’Hern’s spoke about the lessons they learned at Carpet College and also leveraging already established industry experts to learn from. As long as you consider these resources an investment, they will go a long way to getting your business on its feet.
To go along with using resources, you better know what you are getting into. This means long hard hours of research about the industry. Take into account potential factors such as growth, revenue possibilities, industry forecast, etc… Also, get to know your competition. Visit their store or place of business and get a feel for how they run their business. Try to speak to the business owner if they are willing and ask as many questions as they will answer.
Know your audience. Choose a target demographic early and go after them. If you open a skateboard shop, you may not want to run advertising campaigns in your local paper because how many kids do you know who read the Sunday Times? Consider your customer and try to reach them as directly as possible. Trial and error may work for you, but knowing certain do’s and don’ts before hand will be a valuable lesson as well.
At the foundation, nothing will teach you how to run your business like running your business. The O’Hern’s biggest piece of advice should be considered a serious nugget, “You’ll learn more and have a wider scope of responsibilities than you ever imagined. Whether it’s driving the forklift or balancing the books, it’s all important.” Learn from your mistakes (and successes) and use them as lessons to better your business everyday.