Kevin M. O'Hea, owner, Academy Reprographics When I started my company my wise, successful, uncle told me three things. 1. Send out your payroll and avoid tax problems. They can be business killers. 2. Rent your furniture for the first year. You won't know if you like it until you try it. (I hated it.) 3. Don’t bring any partners. Any decisions must be made by consensus and fighting for control is a major distraction. It was all true and kept us alive.
Joe Thompson, President, Berry & Homer Everything you need to know about managing the business can be learned from "The Godfather".
Dave Merrick, Founder/CEO, BIGraphics When it comes to best business advice, I think our favorite is: "Stick to the Knitting" (do what you do and do it well). It is the antithesis of: "Try to be all things to all people". The challenge here is in trying to convince our sales people that this is a good strategy.
Tom Truna, owner, Big Ink Display Graphics Identify, nurture and "live" your company core values. They are the blueprint to how your company operates and are indispensable for hiring, firing and reviewing not only employees but suppliers and customers as well. If your core values don't align, your business philosophy and working environment never will either.
Jason Cardonick, president, Big Mountain Don't just focus on profits, but instead focus on making your clients and employees happy. When decisions are made based on the immediate impact to the bottom line, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Big Mountain Imaging is a company that wants to be successful not just in 2012 but for many years beyond and decisions are made with that in mind.
Scott Snoyer, CEO, Brand Imaging Group Don't do things half assed. Always do your best in all areas.
James Dadmun, CEO, DGI-Invisuals Take the high road.
Michael Duggal, CEO, Duggal Visual Solutions I always liked a quote from Winston Churchill, "If you are going through hell, keep going."
Shane Beard, President, FastSigns of Naperville, IL The best piece of advice I ever got was that "people buy from people they know and trust." I have tried to teach that to my employees, my vendors, and to my kids. We do our very best to keep our professional promises at my center. We often "under promise and over deliver" but the client/customer will always know we will do our very best to make them look good. This has been my successful mantra for 15 years and I don't see changing it anytime soon.
Sally Corman, Owner, Firehouse Imaging The best piece of advice I ever got was that the culture of your business is more important than your strategy for you business. It takes a consistent effort to develop and maintain a good culture.
Gary Paulin, Owner, Harmonic Media Lead, don't manage! We’ve all heard this before , but it's so key to continued growth and sustained success. Do not take your eyes off the prize to begin to manage what you've built. Yes, as small business owners we have plenty to manage and it's not to be taken lightly, but true leadership inspires your staff and your clients. Your excitement about expanding your markets and revenue growth translates into key employee retention, loyal clients, and supportive vendor relationships.
Jay Buckly, owner, MegaPrint "Your reputation is everything." Phil Twombley, who sits on my advisory board, said it at our first meeting 15 years ago. As he told me stories of his career, I started to appreciate how well it had served him. It's served me very well too, and I keep it at the front of every decision I make.
Gary Schellerer, VP Operations, Signs by Tomorrow of Bloomingdale, IL The best advice I ever received related to business was given to me a long time ago by my father. He said, "Son, if you want to be successful in business, surround yourself with talented people." I think within our organization we have done just that. When looking for new members of our team we consider experience and education but we also look for drive, dedication and, last be not least, talent. I truly believe that the reason for our growth and success over the past 20+ years is very much due to the 35+ talented members of our SBT family that we have had the pleasure of working with day in and day out.
What's the best business advice you've ever received? WFI asked that question to this year's Top 40 company owners and presidents. Thirteen leaders shared some of their most valuable advice that has helped them weather the storms of this market segment coupled with our challenging global economy.