Chapter 3 44 Pieces of Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur Business Advice

Tracey Wallace / 10 min read

1. Always be learning.

Kate Dillon, CEO, Crate Insider

Digital marketing and social media are constantly changing.

While it’s not always easy to keep up, have a great strategy in place so your marketing is effective regardless of the changes the platforms make.

Enact a continuous improvement plan for your website. I like to say that a website is never done. It’s a double-edged sword.

On the positive side, unlike print, you’re not stuck with a typo. On the downside, it means there’s always one more thing you can do to make it better.

Improve product descriptions, add pictures or most importantly at this time, add video. Video is king right now on all marketing channels.

2. Have patience.

Ecommerce Manager at Terramai, Terramai

Have patience.

Ecommerce isn’t a get-rich-quick business and requires patience.

Too many people want the quick success that only a few have earned (usually by creating a new, worthy product).

Have self-awareness. Build on YOUR strengths and not what the “gurus” are telling you to focus on.

It’s better to act on your one or two strengths than be paralyzed or go half into ten different tactics that you aren’t strong in or know nothing about.

Focus on your niche, niche, niche!

You’ve heard the old adage of “Location, Location, Location” for retail stores. Online, location doesn’t matter. Niche matters.

It’s better to find 1,000 true fans that resonate with your story and buy from you than 100,000 Instagram followers that don’t.

3. Seek mentorship.

Ana Seidel, CEO and CCO, My Bliss Kiss

It’s very important to take advantage of a lot of the free resources and coaching from Small Business Development Centers.

Their coaching is one of the greatest reasons we have been so successful.

Being an entrepreneur doesn’t always make one good at all of the skills necessary to run a successful and profitable business.

4. Be humble.

Nicole Facciuto, Founder, Corky’s Nuts

My biggest piece of advice is to give yourself permission to be in a space of “not knowing” how to do something before doing it.

The second part of this is to embrace exploring the unknown.

CORKY’S NUTS actually came to be as a result of this philosophy.

I would also recommend giving your community the opportunity to be a resource.

Anything you want or need help with is just “an ask” away.

5. Nothing comes easy.

Judson Uhre, Owner Operator, Hotels for Humanity

Ecommerce is like buying a sleeping IPO – with a lot of hard work and patience it will one day be a total success!

6. Journey to 100.

Tamara Mauro, Owner, Littlest Prince Couture

Never give up.

When you get in a rut, take out a clean sheet of paper and write down no less than 100 ideas or ways that you could sell your product.

Don’t stop until you get to 100.

Some of the ideas might be absolutely ridiculous, but it will get your creative juices flowing.

Then, when you finish your list, immediately get to work on 2-3 of the ideas.

Pretty soon you’ll have more business than you know what to do with.

7. Learn from others.

Gene Constant, President and Founder, True to Size Apparel

Remind yourself as to why you are doing that which you do.

Treat everyone at least as well as you want to be treated.

Pleasantly surprise them often.

Visit and even buy from your competitors and learn how they act.

Look at great performers outside of your industry and see if there is something they are doing right, then wonder if you can incorporate any of that right-stuff into your model. Spoil your customer.

8. Have focus.

Brittany Hogan, Owner and Artisan, Nefertem Naturals

Develop self-discipline and perform acts of self-love every day, be it a morning exercise routine or an evening herbal bath. Caring for yourself will help you stay motivated.

9. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

John Wray, CEO, Hero Care Packages,

Be persistent. Keep working. There are so many people out there! If you just find a good idea and good niche, it will snowball.

10. Don’t get lost in the weeds.

Derek Lenington, Co-Founder & CFO, Taylor Street Favors

Don’t sweat the small stuff.

We were focused initially on the look of our website as a differentiator, spending $$$ on customization that was not really apparent on mobile and made our site load slowly relative to competition.

We followed BigCommerce’s advice, focused on site speed and convenience (like one-page check-out) by migrating to a Stencil theme with no customization – and our Google ranking has been steadily improving along with sales.

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11. Slow and steady wins the race.

Mira Herman, Owner, Rise Mira

Do a lot of research before plunging in. Start small.

It is much easier to grow than to scale down because you have grown too fast.

Go slow and steady.

Don’t take your eye off the mark. Don’t give up when things get tough.

12. Fight through the pain.

Katie Bernotksy, Owner, Power Team Lures

Fight through all the obstacles and challenges.

There will be plenty of them: daily and weekly.

Don’t let them bring you down, just keep going.

13. It’s a wild ride.

Erin Mulkeran, Owner, With Luv Design

It is a roller coaster!

Believe in yourself and be prepared for ups and downs in the economy.

Provide your staff with knowledge about all aspects of the business and take care of them, as they will take care of your business.

14. Test. Test. Test.

Stan Farrell, President, ComposiMold Re-usable Mold Making Materials

Experiment.

Nobody knows what will work for you.

And no matter how many business books you read, it’s the doing that is really going to teach you.

You have to put something out there to see how it’s going to work.

15. Venture into uncharted waters.

Joe Marks, President, Baudelaire, Inc.

Be an early adopter, and be willing to abandon yesterday’s good idea.

In today’s world, productivity tools are advancing faster than you can pay for them!

16. Aim for long-term gains.

Jim Taylor, President and Owner, Belted Cow

Approach growing your business as a marathon, not a sprint.

Set goals and don’t let potential short-term gains derail you from your long-term objectives.

But also don’t be inflexible when your market is starting to tell you something about the direction you are taking.

17. Keep your passion for your business alive.

Philip Kauppinen, Owner, Grand New Flag

Don’t forget why you started your business.

Hold on tight to the passion that pushed you to start your venture.

It will carry you through the good times and tough times and push you to keep striving for success and growth.

18. Incorporate heart into your business.

Linda Robbins, Owner and Designer, Good Dog Beds

Find something you love. Find a way to do it better. Find an honest mentor.

Help others starting a new business, and even through the tough times, count your blessings and look for the good things! Work hard!!

19. Data is the key.

Chief Marketing Officer, Wilson Amplifiers

Constantly be split-testing.

Use HARD DATA, not what you think works.

Have excellent customer service with positive, intelligent and patient attitudes.

Track EVERYTHING.

Do not spend a cent without knowing the impact on the business.

If you can’t show financial gains, use other metrics: lift in branded search, SEO traffic increases, phone call and form completion increases.

20. Provide value.

Jason Harrington, Owner, Lullaby Sound Design

Do everything in your power to create as much value as you can.

All facets of your business can create value, not just the product that you sell.

Giving back to your community creates value. Inspiring others creates value.

Providing opportunities to others creates value.

The more value that you create, the more buoyant your business will become.

21. Stick with your strengths.

Owner, Chief Bakery Engineer, Gluten Free Things

Stay focused on your core products or services and build the brand to consistently market to your target audience through online tools and social media, and make sure the checkout for your online store is efficient, problem free and offers options.

We are thrilled with BigCommerce; my web developer moved my shopping cart from WooCommerce to BigCommerce in the March / April 2017 time frame.

22. Learn from failures.

Owner and Designer, Zoey’s Personalized Gifts

Failure is key to success.

Learning from your mistakes will allow you to move forward in a better direction next time.

23. Take risks.

Mike Clarke, Owner, Water Test Kit

Do not let the early signs of failure dissuade you from following your heart, mind, soul or whatever caused you to take the entrepreneurial plunge in the first place.

And ALWAYS listen for hints and advice from others, not only directly related to the focus of your business, but also to folks around you who work in different fields.

There’s more crossover between industries than you think!

24. Look at your store with fresh eyes.

Ferrell Alman, President and Founder, Roanline

Every now and then, take a step back and look at your store as a customer might for the first time.

When we do this, we often discover small things that aren’t working properly, design facets that could be improved and customer messaging that could be more clear.

When designing things for a customer, it’s important not to lose sight of the forest for the trees – and vice versa.

25. Dot your ‘i’s and cross your ‘t’s.

Lauren Winfield, Wholesale Manager, The Bearded Bastard

Get contracts in writing, plan for your taxes and hire people who are in love with what the company does.

26. Prioritize.

Kris Growcott, Owner, DRAGGIN

Know your priorities.

The list of things to do is never-ending.

Acknowledge that and just concentrate on the things most in need of doing.

And make sure that downtime is on that list of priorities.

It’s easy to get burned out. That’s definitely not good for business.

27. Listen to your buyers.

Kevin Danaher, Ecommerce & Marketing Manager, Stuff2Color

Listen to your customers.

Take time out of your busy schedule to hear their stories, what they like, and even what they don’t like.

Acknowledge their opinions by listening.

28. Test like crazy.

Damon Didier, VP of Marketing, Office Furniture Source

Keep on testing.

We don’t believe there are any bad ideas.

So, we test every crazy idea we can think of (and measure) and put it online.

We also have hired third-parties to run tests with hundreds of people to test our ideas and see if we were right or not.

29. Get your ideas out there, then iterate.

Brandon Roche, Head of UX/UI and Web Development, Croft Trailer Supply

Go to market quick and then iterate.

Build from what you already have and don’t worry too much if the first few iterations don’t look or say exactly what you want.

Constantly and consistently push the envelope.

30. Turn customers into advocates.

Krissy Sexton, Owner, The Hairbow Company

Find your niche & make it something you love.

Business is all about customer experience.

People remember the way you make them feel, so make your business unique and find a way to make it irresistible for your customers to not only come back to, but also to tell others about.

Let your customers be your biggest fans and advocates!

31. Don’t forget the details.

Angela Adams, Co-Owner, Cypress Bridge Candle Co.

Keep up with regular everyday book work. It can become a monster!

32. Speak your customers’ language.

James Nguyen, Content Marketing Manager, Wilson Amplifiers

If you don’t speak nor understand the language of the customer, then everything about your business will be alien to them.

If you have to (need to!), be a translator and moderator for your company and customers.

Be that dictionary between the marketing buzzwords, industry terms and what “real language” is being used by your customers.

33. Dreams come true, but you have to wake up and get to work.

Melody Tabman – Owner and Designer, Milestones Sports Jewelry

Believe in yourself and your products.

I had a very successful advertising sales career for 24 years and when I told my friends what I was going to start a jewelry business-themed to runners, they all thought I was crazy.

To leave such a high-paying job to follow my dream was the scariest thing I’ve ever done, but 13 years later, here I am with a successful website, Etsy shop, selling at expos and we just recently opened our first retail store.

Dreams really can come true. You have to work hard and not give up when the going gets tough, which it will.

34. Don’t spread yourself thin.

Owner and Smile Maker, Taffy Shop

Focus!

The sheer quantity of opportunity can spread you too thin. Don’t try to be everything to everyone.

Figure out who you are as a brand and focus on building your company one strategy at a time.

35. Doing something productive every day

Daniella Park, Designer and Webmaster, Doing It Sober

Be patient, use the tools provided and never give up.

Each day I contribute something to make my business better, literally every day.

New products, SEO metatags, better pictures, marketing, blogs and your business will grow. It has, too!

BigCommerce offers all the most innovative solutions in a simple way to grow and grow and grow!

36. Never give, never surrender.

Lauryn Spence, Founder, Pride Chicken

Stay optimistic!

When we first launched in 2015, we weren’t seeing any sales for almost a year.

But with some hard work and determination, 2 years later we’re 20% closer to breaking even from our initial investment, and still continuing to grow!

37. Find a business community.

Edie Ramstad, Owner, Weave Got Maille

Find a group of other business owners to join.

Something like 1 Million Cups. And realize you cannot do it all yourself.

Hire people who are pros at what they do. And most importantly, take time off.

You will accomplish more if you give yourself time to relax.

38. Focus on the customer first.

Owner, One Faith Boutique

If you approach your business, in the very beginning, from a customer’s point of view instead of your point of view, you have a much better chance of early growth and success.

Put in the ridiculous hours in the beginning so you don’t have to in the future.

Spend the majority of your time/money on marketing and customer service.

39. Be bold, make a move.

Courtney Henslee, Owner and Formulator, Brazen Bee Beauty

My first advice is always this: get started now.

Don’t hesitate.

If you fail, you’ve learned so much and you can start again.

I have had several small businesses from my home from the time I had my first child 18 years ago.

I made businesses out of whatever I was interested in at the time and I often was disappointed in myself over the years that I didn’t stick with those businesses.

Now I see that all of those interests and letting the concept of moving on be a part of my current business has helped me immensely to realize how passionate I am about what I do now and to be willing to move with the flow of what clients need and want.

40. Take action.

Greg Schlensker, Owner, Avari Reef Labs

Do what you do best and rely on others to do their best on the rest.

Step, stretch, leap. Practice, perfect then perform.

You can’t plan for discovery other than stretching and perfecting.

You must do, not plan. Stay flexible.

41. Be mentally tough.

Tersha Carpenter, CFO, Island Slipper

There will always be tough times, whether it is internal to your business (challenges of family relationships) or external (not enough sales or suppliers going out of business).

So you must have the endurance to see through the tough times.

And you must always be learning and adapting to minimize the tough times.

Life is hard regardless of whether you are the business owner or manager or employee.

Find work that excites you and contribute to building something bigger than yourself.

In the end, I believe you’ll find something worthwhile, a legacy to leave behind.

42. Wow your customers with your digital storefront.

Maranda Johnson, Co-Owner, The Good Stuff Botanicals

Have a crisp, clean website from the start with nice professional photography.

BigCommerce has elevated our business, making us appealing to more storefront retailers.

Even though we are a small business with 2 employees, we appear much bigger.

You’d never know we run our business out of our basement.

Our wholesale accounts have increased dramatically when we switched from GoDaddy to BigCommerce.

We always get complimented on how awesome our website is!

43. Do your research.

Ronna Moore , CEO – Chief Everything Office, Fairy Home and Gardens

Research and ask questions.

Research and put a lot of thought into every decision you make.

Your business name, the shopping cart you choose, finding a designer to help design your website all are important decisions you should take time with.

Spend a lot of time on BigCommerce University and in the community forums asking questions.

44. Discover your why.

Stephanie Richard, Owner, Sparkles & Lace Boutique

Creating goals is key, but it’s important first to identify and know your “why.”

It’s not always going to be an easy road.

If you don’t know why you started in the first place, it won’t light your fire when you need to be “re-ignited.”

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

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Table of Contents

IntroAmerican Business Owners on Starting, Scaling and Staying Inspired in 2018
Chapter 1 72 American Business Owners on What Motivated Them To Become Entrepreneurs
Chapter 2 These 40 Entrepreneurs Swear by These Marketing & Growth Strategies
Chapter 3 44 Pieces of Entrepreneur-to-Entrepreneur Business Advice
Chapter 4 40 American Business Owners on What Independence Means to Them

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