Small businesses are deceiving. Why? Because there's really nothing small about them. The ideas that spark them, the minds that lead them, the risks that advance them, and the heart that goes into them -- they're all pretty ... big.
Not to mention, small businesses have been responsible for over 67% of the net new jobs created from mid-2009 to 2011, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
That ain't peanuts. We know that small businesses get their name from company size -- generally, businesses with fewer than 500 employees are considered "small" -- but I've always heard that good things come in small packages.
Since 1963, the U.S. has been celebrating all the big things small businesses have been doing with National Small Business Week, an annual, nationwide week of recognition complete with workshops, events, and inspiring talks from business leaders. This week praises all the small business leaders and team members who have been bold enough to invest their resources and efforts into something different. And guess what? Small Business Week kicked off this past Monday. But don't worry, it's not too late to join the party. Small businesses are fueling the economy and innovation, and we can all learn a thing or two from the risk-takers pioneering the small business sector. So we gathered wise words from small business owners and experts to get a glimpse into how rewarding, challenging, inspiring, and lovable building a small business can be.
Small Business Advice From Real Entrepreneurs & Experts
Craig Brown, Founder & CEO, Recruitment Rocket
“In my opinion, the greatest key to small business success is to not hold your cards too close to your chest. Tell people about your great idea. Tell anyone who will listen. Actively seek feedback from the larger community as a whole, with a particular emphasis on potential customers. You'll be surprised at how many people will be both willing and able to contribute."
Eric Dosal, Co-Founder & CEO, BrightGauge Software
"Starting a small business is like riding an intense roller coaster. There are tons of twists, turns, loops, ups, and downs. Sometimes you manage the business thinking about the next quarter, and sometimes it's just managing hour by hour. The key is to stay focused and enjoy the thrill of the ride."
Shawn Graham, Small Business Owner, Fast Company Blogger, and Marketing Consultant to Small Businesses
“Unlike huge corporations, as a small business owner you have a chance to interact with your customers face-to-face on a daily basis. By treating each and every touch point as an opportunity to gain a better understanding of your customers, you’re ensuring your small business will continue to grow and evolve to meet their unique needs and expectations.”
Laura Fitton, Inbound Evangelist at HubSpot and Founder of oneforty (Acquired by HubSpot)
“People say that small businesses are hard work, but the reality is that it's hard work like you've never known -- you eat, sleep, live, and breathe your business. There's nothing harder, but there's also nothing better -- small business owners are some of the the world's most wonderful, dedicated, and intelligent innovators."
Mark Lingo, President, Precise Hire
“Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake once said, ‘So often people are working hard at the wrong thing. Working on the right thing is probably more important than working hard.’ After working hard for 13 years as a small business owner, these words ring true with me more than ever.”
Ryan Koral, Owner, Tell
“Being a small business owner is the best. It's incredibly hard but it's been totally worth it. I love creating -- and I love being a part of a team that cares about people and cares about telling stories. I doubt I could have a tougher job -- and I'm sure I couldn't have one that is more rewarding.”
Arlyn Davich, CEO & Founder, PayPerks
“Trust your idea enough to know that it can challenge the status quo -- our greatest returns have come from taking unconventional paths and tackling real problems on behalf of our potential customers and partners."
Mark Hudson, President, Guardian Call
“Network to find like-minded business people who you can talk to about your day-to-day activities. Decompressing, venting, sounding bored -- whatever you want to call it -- they will see solutions that are hidden in plain sight. Maybe you’ll answer your own questions once you hear yourself out loud. You’ll do them the same favour in return. And don't limit it to just a few people -- make it a larger circle, and make it social. Like a temporary, rotating, casual advisory board. Refreshments wouldn’t hurt.”
Melinda Emerson, Small Business Expert and Author
“Take at least one family vacation a year. It's easy for small business owners to be completely consumed by their business, and it's imperative to let your family know they are your number one customer on a regular basis."
Brian Halligan, Co-Founder & CEO, HubSpot
“You demonstrate your best-in-the-world status by using your brain to create best-in-the-world content for your business. The small businesses that do this won’t need a big marketing budget to get traction and disrupt -- and eventually displace -- legacy companies. It takes hard work and brainpower, sure, but those aren’t things most SMB marketers I know are afraid of.”
For all you small business owners out there -- what's your best piece of advice for fellow entrepreneurs?