Lessons Learned from Other Small Business Owners: Celebrating National Small Business Week

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National Small Business Week

OnDeck is proud to work with so many hard-working small business owners, the backbone of our economy and the heartbeat of our communities. In celebration of National Small Business Week, we’d like to share some of the best advice we’ve gathered from small business owners like you on just what is needed to build a successful business.

Here are some lessons they thought were important enough to share with us:

On managing cash flow

Learning to manage your business cash flow is one of the most important skills to develop as a small business owner. This is particularly important if your business experiences longer gaps between invoicing and payment, which is common for businesses in the medical, construction or manufacturing industries. Tina Mantis of Mantis Dentistry offer this advice:

“The biggest challenge in managing cash flow is the gap between our accounts receivable and accounts billable. The timing doesn’t always match up. So, for example, if one of our patients takes two weeks to pay us, but we need to pay a lab for results today, we run into an issue. This dynamic creates a very serious cash flow conversion cycle issue. The way we overcame this challenge was by putting a reserve account in place – you need to have cash on hand to account for this.”

Read the full interview with Dino and Tina.

On developing and training top notch employees

Excellent customer service can be a “make or break” factor for small businesses, so it’s critical for a small business owner to find, train, and keep great employees on staff. To make sure that her staff are providing the best customer experience possible, Sandy Stroehmann of Elixir Mind Body Massage offers plenty of support in the form of training and coaching:

“We have staff meetings every six weeks, which usually include a lot of training. There is also a regular monthly session. We’re constantly doing evaluations with new employees. We have 30, 60, and 90-day evaluations where we’re checking in, coaching, and doing those things to bring them up to our standards of excellence.”

Read the full interview with Sandy.

On building relationships with their clients

Cutting through the noise and making sure your marketing efforts are reaching your target audience can be difficult for any company. However, since many small businesses tend to be a part of the same community they’re selling to, they can be a little more creative in how they reach their target audience. For example, Sue Kolupar, owner of Dressed in Time, offers the following advice on reaching her target audience of teenage girls:

“High school girls and their parents are my core clients. I’m all about customer service, and I will bend over backwards for them….  I also hire a few girls who have the opportunity to work co-op. It’s great because they get retail experience and see all the new dresses coming in…and then they go tell their friends and parents!”

Read the full interview with Sue.

On moving past mistakes

Not every new business venture will succeed; sometimes, a new company, product launch, or location expansion will fail. While this can be disheartening, Paul Baron of Beau and Belle Littles emphasizes there is an important lesson in every failure:

Most of the businesses I started were failures, but the great thing about failures is that as long as you don’t let them identify you as a “failure,” and rather you look at them as learning experiences, then those experiences/lessons that you learn in those failures helping more on your path towards success than almost any other lesson would.

Read the full interview with Rachelle and Paul.

On seeking financing to expand your business

While managing your cash flow effectively is crucial to building a successful business, there are times when accessing borrowed capital to fuel expansion or meet other financing needs to really scale growth could be a consideration. RT Custer of Vortic Watch Company found that financing was a key factor in growing his business:

“As a business owner, you must think about your economies of scale – with cash flow you can get to one level, but with financing you can get to an entirely new place. This increases your margins, and your cash flow, and ultimately your revenue and profit for your business.”

Read the full interview with RT.


Happy National Small Business Week from OnDeck – we are proud to dedicate our business to helping you grow and thrive.

Have some business lessons of your own to share? Comment below!