The winners of the Best Small Business Persons of the year from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have found success by putting their all into their work.
Continuing from part one of our article series, we are celebrating small businesses and helping you learn from their experiences.
Here is the next batch of the SBA winners, continuing alphabetically:
- Illinois- Elizabeth Colon (President) Metaphrasis Language & Cultural Solutions LLC
- Indiana- Mike Suth (CEO) Hoosier Spring Company, Inc.
- Iowa- Mary Connell (President and CEO) Air Control, Inc.
- Kansas- Alex Harb (Owner) Ribbit Computers LLC
- Kentucky- Tommy Ray Cornett (President) Bleed Blue Tattoo & Piercing, Inc.
- Louisiana- Keith A. DuRousseau (President) Keiland Construction LLC
- Maine- Alan Spear (President)and Mary Allen Lindeman (Treasurer) Coffee By Design
- Maryland- Stephanie Novak Hau (President & CEO) Chesapeake Environmental Management, Inc.
- Massachusetts- Valerie Bono (Owner/VP National Sales), Maria Malloy (Owner/VP Finances & HR), Eric Bresciani (President) and Edwin Bresciani (Production Manager) Golden Cannoli
- Michigan- Michael O. Nevins (CEO) Full Spectrum Solutions, Inc.
- Minnesota- Scott H. Warzecha (President) Netgain Technology, Inc.
- Mississippi- Bhupender “Bruce” Ramesh Patel (President & CEO) Fusion Hospitality
- Missouri- Nilson Goes, Ph.D. (President/CEO) Infinite Energy Construction, Inc.
Figure Out Where You Can Make a Difference
The flip of a coin brought Alan Spear and Mary Allen Lindemann to Seattle during the early years of the specialty coffee industry in 1989. The young couple had reluctantly left Maine to find work, he as a landscape architect and environmental planner, she as head of new business for an advertising agency.
Though they were doing well following traditional career paths, their desire to return to Maine and help “bring downtown back” won out. Their efforts have been rewarded, earning them the title of 2014 Small Business Persons of the Year in Maine.
They opened Coffee By Design, a coffee company and micro-roastery, in 1994. Not only do they sell coffee, but they also hold classes to teach their retail and wholesale customers about coffee. They even had third and fourth graders come to learn about the role of coffee during the Italian Renaissance.
Their passion for coffee and community has helped make Coffee By Design a success, but it took serious commitment.
If you are looking to only work a 9-5 schedule, opening a business may not be for you. Lindemann wants new small business owners to know it is a 24/7 job, so loving what you do is key.
“Make sure you are passionate about whatever business you chose to create,” Lindemann said.
She also advises potential business owners to make sure to have a thorough business plan and a mission statement with core values.
“They will become your road map as you make decisions over the years,” she said.
Don’t Think You Have to Do Everything
The foundation of Elizabeth Colon’s future business began when she was a child. Her parents spoke little English, so Colon and her siblings would often be pulled from school to act as translators when their parents had appointments.
After working in the healthcare industry and seeing how difficult it was for patients who had limited proficiency in English, she decided to build a business that would address language barrier issues. Her company, Metaphrasis Language & Cultural Solutions LLC, provides comprehensive language solutions for healthcare, government and private sector organizations.
Staying involved in your business is one of the most important lessons Colon has learned so far.
“I have recently learned a huge lesson in that you need to monitor your business and those who work for you,” Colon said. “If you do not check in, you cannot hold your employees accountable for their actions and when you come to realize it, you have a bigger problem than you expected.”
She also advises new business owners to get help when needed.
“Do what you do best and outsource where you need help,” she said. “Business owners start out feeling that they need to do everything on their own and the reality is that we cannot.”
She recommends making an investment to hire an accountant, payroll company, bookkeeper or any professional services that will allow you to focus on your strengths and building the business.
Learn From People You Admire
“Golden Cannoli is a family business and growing up watching my dad work with such passion and pride was something I wanted to emulate and continue on for my lifetime,” Bono said.
The company began in 1970 when Francesco Bono and Angelo Bresciani were running Italian bakeries while selling their cannoli to other restaurants. Their cannoli shells became so in-demand that they were able to start an entire business around it.
“Our biggest success is continuing to run our business with the trust and reliability as my dad did while growing with the most consistent and creative cannoli products on the market today,” Bono said. “Working hard with focus and passion pays off.”
She advises new business owners to under-promise and over-deliver. Customer service is a major focus of Golden Cannoli.
“Create trust and a network of people around you that make the organization stronger, no matter the size,” she said.
Get ready for more insight from the country’s top small business leaders in part three of our series, to be published tomorrow.