It’s Small Business Week in the US, April 30 – May 6, a time to celebrate entrepreneurs and startups for their big ideas and their unrelenting drive to bring them into reality. It’s also an ideal opportunity for entrepreneurs to share experience, inspiration, and the challenges you’ve overcome to make your business a success.
We asked EO members what lessons learned or best practices they would share with other small business owners. We also asked how membership in EO’s global network provides value by empowering them to confide in their peers in the confidential space of EO Forum, which can help entrepreneurs move forward through challenges to achieve their full potential. Here’s what five EO members shared:
The CEO is the limit of any business
Over the last 15 years, I’ve had to alter my business model and pricing structure a few times to adjust to rising overhead costs, client needs and staffing requirements. Our business has grown at the speed of cash, slowly and steadily. My EO membership has helped me continue to grow to the next level as my company surpassed the 7-figure mark. Never did I dream that we would be in such a position, but our online auction offering sent revenue skyrocketing. That kind of business growth requires growth on behalf of the leader; EO has been a big part of that. The support of my EO Forum mates — who have experience beyond my years — has expanded my capacity for success and taught me to look at business in a new way.
Being a small business owner is both art and science. Keeping a close eye on the numbers, analyzing what those numbers mean, anticipating the needs of your industry, appealing to clients, and hiring and keeping exceptional staff members are all vital for business owners. I am constantly learning, growing, and getting better as my business grows. The CEO is the limit of any business, so I’ve learned that I must grow and continue to grow if I want my business to evolve and succeed. Personal growth, intellectual growth, and self-reflection are a must for any business owner interested in continued success.
Your company must evolve with the market
Keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive is critical for continued growth and success in a crowded field. That requires constant monitoring of industry trends and competitors, and regularly taking the temperature of clients, team members and other stakeholders. If you’re not creating ways to serve your clients more effectively, someone else will. The real danger lies in failing to evolve as clients evolve and define their “better world”.
— Frank Fantozzi, EO Cleveland, president and founder, Planned Financial Services
Surround yourself with other amazing entrepreneurs
Every small business owner faces challenges; EO Forum has created a unique opportunity for me to share those challenges with my Forum mates and get help based on their past experiences rather than opinions. As business owners, we often feel that our challenges are unique to us. In reality, we all face very similar situations throughout our business journeys. This allows other members to share their experiences rather than give a “what I would do” opinion.
The biggest lesson I would share with other business owners is to prioritize a continuation of your learning journey. To me this means surrounding yourself with other amazing entrepreneurs who can relate to you and have gone through similar business situations to what you are currently experiencing. It’s incredibly valuable to have overall support from likeminded people.
— Andrew Cohen, EO Los Angeles, co-founder and CEO, Work Better Now
Entrepreneurship is a team sport
Your reputation is the backbone of your small business, especially in a small community. It’s important to stay active in the community and build relationships with other business owners, non-profits, and community leaders in the public sector. The relationships and reputation you build will create a foundation for your business. It’s these relationships that you can also rely on for guidance when you get stuck or need help in some way. Asking for help, and also reaching out and helping others goes a long way. Support the people who support you, and know that you are not in this alone, entrepreneurship is a team sport and there are others out there on your team that want to help, and others out there cheering you on.
— Tom Rauen, EO Iowa, founder and CEO, 1-800-Tshirts.com
Learn from the mistakes of others
Having survived multiple boom and bust real estate cycles, my EO Forum has been incredibly valuable during difficult times. During the 2008 housing crisis, my company was on the verge of bankruptcy. The experiences shared by fellow EO members helped me manage through the crisis without going out of business, and we’ve had incredible growth since then.
The best advice I can give other entrepreneurs is to surround yourself with like-minded people who care about your success, have more experience walking the path you’re on, and can help you not make the same mistakes they did.