Buzzbizz Creative Founder & CEO Michael Buzinski gives his two cents on his experience as an entrepreneur and working with small businesses.
When I was 17, I landed a sales job at a Guitar Center in Berkeley, California. I was stoked to be working around the instruments I loved to play, regardless of how bad I was at playing them.
I will always remember the day my sales manager turned me on to Steven Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I must have read that book in less than a week between 60 hours on the sales floor and 20 hours practicing with my band after hours. It was that book that directed my attention to what successful people had to say.
For the last twelve years I have taken my marketing experience with medium and large companies and translated it into a passion for helping small businesses. In the process I have also started listening to the entrepreneurial giants of the last 30 years and re-rendering their words of wisdom through the lens of small business.
1. “If you love what you do and are willing to do what it takes, it’s within your reach.”— Steve Wozniak
This is true no matter what you do, but I like relating this to small business because successful small business owners run businesses that lend to what they love whether by product or process.
2. “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there is a moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push yourself through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough.”— Marissa Mayer
Entrepreneurs are always putting themselves in this position, but I find it less likely in the small business realm. I get very excited when I see a fellow small business owner taking chances outside of their comfort zone. It isn’t always about huge leaps, but if you are not growing, you’re dying; even in the small business world.
3. “Do the work. Out-work. Out-think. Out-sell your expectations. There are no shortcuts.”— Mark Cuban
I really like Mark’s attitude. It works at every level. I have always been a big believer that those who win are those who decided to do what the competition is unwilling to do. I also key in the “out-selling expectations”. Notice he didn’t say. “Out-sell your competitors”. In small business, it is easy to settle for what is enough. Push yourself past your expectations and see what comes of it.
4. “People want to do business with someone they like. If people like you, they’re going to want to do business with you.”— Barbara Corcoran
This is more crucial in small business than any other echelon. I hear from clients all of the time, “Referrals make up 80% of my business.” That’s true because they are likable people and friends like helping friends out. Price cannot compete with likability when competing with larger companies. Always remember to keep the human side of your business alive.
5. “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”— Warren Buffett
Conversely to Barbara Corcoran’s quote, Mr. Buffett points out that you are only a few bad reviews away from turning a great reputation into a bad one. Large corporations have the luxury of weathering through thousands of bad reviews that small businesses do not. Make sure you protect your reputation by great customer service through the good and bad transactions.
6. “Don’t let business get personal. It’s just business”— Lori Greiner
In the pursuit of likability, it is important to remember that you are running a business. Unlike big business, small business owners will make a lot of business decisions based on feelings. It is important to remember that feelings don’t make payroll. As much as it is important to keep your business human, be sure you don’t let humans drag down your business.
7. “Be crazy and don’t seek too much advice on what you propose to do.”— Michael Dell
There is a lot of great advice out there, but less so if you are blazing new trails. I personally have had many advisors help me with the fundamentals of business, but none of them really were much help when I was trying to put together the concept of my unique business model. People only know what they know, so be sure you are not limiting yourself to the imagination of those you seek advice from.
8. Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.”— Jack Dorsey
Many small business owners try to be everything to everyone. Find your niche and get really good at it. It’s not about getting all of the business in your market and more about getting all of the business that is good for you and your company.