Top Advice for Your Small Business From Other Owners

Cindy & Bryan Schooley / Windy Hills Lavender Farm

Becoming a small-business owner can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. And no matter if you’re a veteran small-business owner, new to being an entrepreneur or dream of opening a small business someday, it’s always helpful to get advice from other people who have been in your shoes.

2021 Small Business Spotlight: Check Out Our Small Business Stories, Plus the Nominated Businesses Near You
See: How To Keep Supporting Your Local Small Businesses

GOBankingRates spoke to small-business owners across the U.S. as part of our Small Business Spotlight series, and asked them for their top tips — here’s what they had to say.

Connect With Other Small-Business Owners

“Make a lot of friends with other small businesses or join an entrepreneur group,” said Alice Yoon, co-founder of the Los Angeles-based visual art studio Grey & Elle. “Owning your own business in the first years can be very lonely, and having others who are going through the same endeavor can be very supportive.”

More: Creative Ways Small Businesses Stayed Open During the Pandemic

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Continue To Learn New Skills

“Be willing to wear many hats and to be willing to develop new skills,” said Jessie Apple, co-founder of Little Rockers, a children’s music school in Shrewsbury, New Jersey. “You will always be doing the initial thing you love but will have to learn to love all the other tiny things necessary to run a business, like finance and marketing. But that’s what they call a labor of love.'”

Start Your Own: Small-Business Ideas for a Post-Pandemic World

Avoid Taking on Debt (If Possible)

“Start small and grow your business,” said Cindy Schooley, co-owner of Windy Hills Lavender Farm, a family-run farm in Heber, Arizona. “Don’t take out a bunch of loans. A main goal should be to stay within your ability to pay all of your bills in full every month. It can be very easy to say, ‘Oh, I will pay the rest of that credit card bill next month,’ but next month never comes and then it gets overwhelming. The next thing you know you’re taking one credit card to pay another. You will have a lot less stress knowing that everything is paid in full every month.”

Discover: 25 Small Businesses Every Neighborhood Needs

Do Your Research

“Good ideas are hard to come by, but harder still is the process of planning ahead to ensure your business will succeed,” said Hayley and Peter, co-founders of La Nature, a zero-waste store in Brooklyn, New York. “Scouring different locations, demographics and local community groups made a huge difference when we were deciding on where to plant ourselves and which products to offer, and it’s quickly led to an incredible amount of support from folks in the area. Going to where the people already are rather than thinking up ways to make them come to you, whether in their neighborhood or in online spaces, helps immensely.”

Related: Small-Business Industries Hurt Most by the Pandemic

Do Your Best To Maintain Work-Life Balance

“Don’t be afraid to step back and just breathe,” said Krista Davis, founder of No Common Scents Gifts, LLC, a specialty candle shop in Nova, Ohio. “For the first nine months, I was up at 3 a.m. and I was absolutely consumed with creating a successful business. Everything else started taking a backseat, including my family. I still had many other things that I had to try to fit in and other responsibilities that absolutely could not be put on hold, so I started putting in longer and longer hours. I stopped being me, and I became only my business. My advice is to work hard to become successful, but at the end of the day, don’t sacrifice everything else in your life to get there.”

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Read: How Our Businesses Will Continue To Move Forward Post-Pandemic

Just Go For It

If you’re on the fence about opening the small business of your dreams, just do it, said Shiloh McCulley, founder of Roundhouse Coffee, a direct-to-consumer and online-based coffee company located in Chattanooga, Tennessee: “I told myself ‘why not’ and never looked back. Why not today? Why not you?”

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Last updated: June 22, 2021

About the Author

Gabrielle joined GOBankingRates in 2017 and brings with her a decade of experience in the journalism industry. Before joining the team, she was a staff writer-reporter for People Magazine and People.com. Her work has also appeared on E! Online, Us Weekly, Patch, Sweety High and Discover Los Angeles, and she has been featured on “Good Morning America” as a celebrity news expert. 

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