Every business owner whether in business one year or fifty, will tell you they are learning every day. Sharing insights with other business owners, can often help you put things in better perspective for your own business. We asked business owners the following question in a piece titled Businesses Helping Other Businesses and the responses are well worth the read.
(We will continue this feature in future issues)
If you could go back in time to day one of starting your business, knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to your younger self?
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“Don’t’ sweat the small stuff, remember to keep things in perspective. If someone doesn’t show up for work, don’t let it change your mood or your day. Roll with the punches…you might as well get used to it there’s going to be allot of them. Make sure that you make time for your family along the way.”
Dwaine Fisher, www.fisherexcavating.ca
“Take care of yourself, guard your family time and enjoy the clients who see value in what you offer and release the ones who don’t, that’s why there’s competition. You can’t please everyone. If you don’t look after yourself you will not have the health or energy to do a good job and your family time is precious, and the reason you are working so hard in the first place.”
Michele Kadwell-Chalmers, www.theoriginalflame.com
“You cannot do it ALL on your own.
Find mentors to help guide you through the maze of business decisions. You can‘t possibly be an expert in every aspect of running a business and no one expects you to be. Having a mentor will make your dreams achievable sooner and with less stress and will help lessen the stress of that nagging question – what if this is a bad decision. How do you find a mentor? There are volunteer mentor groups and local business groups, such as your local Chambers of Commerce. The relationship has to fit – after all you will be sharing confidential information. Make sure the mentor shares the same ethics as you do, has been proven successful and you feel comfortable with them or the group.”
“Nothing changes if you change nothing and change is a necessary part of a growing business. There is no reason you have to do it in the dark, so find a mentor and change will come much easier.”
Kathryn Rutledge, Invisible Fence of South East Ontario
“Growing up in a family business means little separation between home and business life because in order to accomplish your goals you need to be willing to put in the time, which means working more than a regular work week.”
“In business you see the small day to day changes that need to be made, however it is not until you sit back and look at the path the business has taken, that you realize the changes and highs and lows that the business has gone through. If I had to give advice it would be to embrace change and roll with it. In business you have to be constantly changing and improving yourself, the way you run your business, manufacture your products, and advertise your products and how you handle your customer service.”
“In this fast paced society change is constant and if you resist the change, then you get left behind.
Although you may have to change some aspects of your business to remain competitive, try to stay true to who you are and the values/morals of your company.”
Katie Peet, www.rjmachine.ca
“I would spend more on local advertising even though it is very expensive, as it drives the business and if spent correctly, it brings in customers.”
Charles Harwood, www.harwoodkitchens.com
“My advice would be to trust your gut & use the resources available. Be prepared to cover as many variables as possible. Even the best plans need to be flexible. Make sure you leave time for other things. Yes it’s important to put in the effort but don’t let it consume you. Finally be sure to thank those who support you. Peterborough & the surrounding area has a great community from my perspective.”
Kevin Covert, www.peterboroughdrivingschool.ca
“Failure and success are a double edge sword, be prepared to wield it and walk its edges in a paradigm that allows you to learn and grow from your failures and successes. Pay your taxes on time and most importantly understand that sometimes you may need to emancipate yourself from clients… yes it is okay to fire a punter!”
Chef Brian Henry, www.chefbrianhenry.com
“If we could go back, as well as our website, word of mouth and referrals, the advice we would give ourselves is to take the financial risk of advertising in the media, in television, radio and in newspapers. We now run regular ads on CHEX, The Wolf and Country 105 and we have experienced growth as a result. With this success came a willingness to explore other advertising venues such as the Peterborough Mailer and Cottage Country Connection. As well, when available we support local initiatives and events. If we could go back in time, advertising would definitely be in our business plan!”
Jon Bennett & Olga Palatics, www.WeldingSkills.com
“It is so important to keep family time and personal time available. There is nothing worse than being stressed out.
It reflects on your work and your customer service.
So make sure to take sufficient time for yourself and your family!”
Shane Debassige, www.dcupgrades.com
“If I could go back to day one of opening my business, I would tell myself that there will be ups and downs, good days and bad. During the bad times you need to keep your head up and keep going, because with perseverance comes success.”
Tyler Rushlow, www.glidingshelf.ca
“The advice I would give myself is to work harder on my own personal development than on my business. Working on myself makes me exceptional at business and able to serve my clients with skill and professionalism. Once I learned from Jim Rohn this concept, I have grown leaps and bounds as a person and as a Realtor.
Brad Sinclair, www.bradsellswaterfront.ca
“If I could go back I’d be sure to have a clearer business plan with a timeline for expansion, rather than expanding my business based on market demand. Expansion must have sound financial support and should not be done on cash flow and projections alone. Consider Murphy whenever the future is imagined.
Michael Bell, Publisher
“Stick to what you LOVE & are amazing at.
Find complimentary partners to help each other create an amazing service or product. Buy space together immediately to help establish yourselves as a serious company.”
Sofie Andreou, www.SofieAndreou.com
“Be patient – building a business takes time. It’s a process to grow into what you imagined when you first had the idea. So be patient and relax into that.
Be open- it’s going to require lots of skills to grow. Be open to continuous learning, change and to wearing many hats. Know that networking is important. Be aware of what you can do and can’t, and be open to reaching out for expertise that you don’t have. There will be days that it feels like things are working and days when it doesn’t and the relationships you build
networking will be a great resource if you’re willing.
All things change so keep an open mind.
Be adventurous – keep moving and bring an attitude that this is a journey and not a destination. Remember the spark and energy you brought when starting the business and keep motivated. When we are having fun, living an adventure, and being curious about what comes next, we enjoy the ride.”
Sharon e. Davison B.Ed. (Adult) CMC® , www.sharonedavison.com
“Businesses, Organizations and Not-for-Profits can be started because the work they do is meaningful to the people who start them, which is the case of the Dharma Centre of Canada.
At the time when the Dharma Centre began there was no one doing the kind of work of providing a designated organization and property for meditation, study and retreat.
Years later there are many more people doing this.
If something has meaning to you and/or a group of people, take the step out and start, because you never know the good it will do.
If others follow, then you know you had a great idea, that what was important to you is important to others, and now you are a leader in that field.”
Rab Wilkie, Board Director, www.dharmacentre.org
“The most important change would have been to be less shy and modest; spend a bit less time in the gardens in order to proclaim loudly to one and all about the exciting plants we were developing and growing at our own nursery.
The other advice would have been to start younger.
It takes many years to establish a plant collection and even more to develop and propagate new varieties to register and sell. Having fun and enjoying the process is the easy part when you are truly passionate about your business and life style.”
Hazel Cook, Blossom Hill Nursery
“I would take more chances and be more confident in my abilities. I would value my time and not be afraid to charge for it.
I would try to find more balance in my work and family and put more value on my time with family.
I would ask more questions of my peers, join industry associations or find a mentor earlier in my career and make as many contacts as possible and not be afraid to say I don’t know but I will find out.”
Susan Northey, www.accuratetax.ca
“Don’t listen to the neh Sayers.
Stay positive no matter what because we live in a country full of opportunities. Keep your chin up an keep pushing because you will succeed. People always said its just buisness, “don’t take it personally” well don’t listen to them because if you take your business personally and treat others the way you want to be treated you will go all the way!”
Steve Munro, Munro’s Drywall & Contracting
“I would tell my younger self just setting out to open a business to think, plan and organize way more than you think you need. You may have a grand vision of what you are trying to achieve during this exciting time but executing this is way tougher than it seems. Never assume that completing any task will be easy – there are always details you don’t think of that can cause a delay.
In the process of opening up a business, there are many decisions to be made and ideas to implement. Some require approvals from various levels of government, some require ordering things that take a long time to make and some require time to gather all the facts. Having a journal or nowadays an app can help you keep track of the many things going on at the same time. You may get comments from others that you are thinking way too much but remember, your business succeeding depends on the effort you put into your new venture!”
Dr. Neel Joshi, DDS, www.lakefielddentistry.com
“In my industry we have many streams of revenue.
The advice I would give to my ‘day one self’ would be to not try to implement all of them all at once. Start by implementing a low cost system by spending sweat equity, rather than big dollars. The revenue created by the early systems will fund the income generating systems that cost more money.
Be patient. Eventually, you’ll get there.”
Trudy Wilson, Broker, RE/MAX Eastern Realty Inc., Brokerage.
“Be an active listener.
As much as I always thought I was a patient person who listened well, there were still lots of times I carried an agenda into a situation and just waited for my turn to talk. Either that, or stopped participating if it didn’t go my way. Not listening actively so that you understand messages from your teammates, colleagues, and clients, how they react to your messages, and getting a true sense of what is important to them is a big barrier to reaching individual and organizational goals. It’s OK to have a distinct style and speak your mind but I remind myself I can’t communicate effectively without active listening. It requires you to start fresh and practice it every day as well. I have learned more, had more fun, & made more friends as my listening skills developed over time. Heard more great jokes (sorry, no space for one!). My wife is a great help too; if I’m not listening she reminds me right away!”
Greg Elmhirst, www.elmhirst.com
“Going back to when I began my business I would set great, wild audacious goals, lay them out before me both written and visual and go after them with all my heart. I would break them down into manageable pieces realizing that “Rome wasn’t built in a day”!
I would acknowledge that “I am worthy; I am enough”. Worthy of vivacious health, juicy relationships, and the authentic expression of my gifts, strengths, and talents. I would attract greater abundance by acting upon my creativity rather than withholding it for fear of failure and judgment. I would surround myself with a love posse to include people who have the confidence in their own gifts, and who are willing to contribute simply to improve and to empower others to be their very best.
I would have embraced my natural gift to authentically connect with people. I would have fostered those relationships through reciprocity. I would have stopped “getting ready to get ready”, rather learn by failing forward. Simply put, I would have learned sooner how I desired to “Live a Legacy Life”.
Sue Field, Empowerment Expert