Having a successful small business isn’t just a matter of talent or know-how. The 2014 best small business owners in the country as chosen by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) have several things in common.
Passion drives them. They work hard to keep improving and growing. They hire top talent and work to keep employees happy.
If you have a small business or hope to open one someday, read all of the advice offered in this series and take note.
- Puerto Rico- Eniel Torres-Ojeda (President) Productos La Finca, Inc.
- Rhode Island- Lisa Mattiello (Owner) Pranzi Catering & Events
- South Carolina- Nancy Porter Ogburn (President) Tomato Palms LLC
- South Dakota- Ryan McFarland (President/CFO) Strider Sports International, Inc.
- Tennessee- Tracy Solomon (President and CEO) Tevet LLC
- Texas- Gregory R. Hudson (CEO) Genesis Concepts & Consultants
- Utah- Sandeep Sharma (President and CEO) Global Consulting International, Inc.
- Vermont- William Cherry (President) Jeffrey Neiblum (Vice President) Switchback Brewing Company
- Virginia- Kevin L. Knight (President & CEO) Knight Solutions
- Washington- Fred Schule (President) Paul Clark (Vice President) Cobalt Enterprises, Inc.
- West Virginia- Kenneth H. Allman II (President & CEO) PracticeLink.com and MountainPlex Properties
- Wisconsin – Thomas Jagemann (President) Ralph Hardt (CEO) Jagemann Stamping Company
- Wyoming- Jennifer C. Merrill (President) Merrill, Inc.
Even When It’s Hard, Don’t Give Up
Taking the easy way out was never an option for Ryan McFarland, President and CFO of Strider Sports International, Inc.
“I love the challenge and adventure of entrepreneurial life,” McFarland said. “The risk is higher, the losses hurt more, but the wins are sweeter!”
Being named the Small Business Person of the Year in South Dakota is another in a line of successes for the company that has basically created a new category of product with their balance bikes. McFarland attributes their success to having a solid product, sound business plan and out-hustling the competition.
He advises new small business owners to understand their numbers and market potential.
“Make sure there is actually enough potential to warrant the investment and risk,” he said. “High risk should offer a large reward.”
Tenacity is important for starting a business. McFarland warns new business owners to get ready to give it their all and work harder than they ever have before.
“Never give up. Failure is simply a temporary step along the path toward your goal,” McFarland said. “Every time you get up again from a failure, you have more knowledge to move toward your goal. Success is not reaching the end goal; success is going after that goal every day.”
Keep Perfecting the Process
For Fred Schule, one of the 2014 Small Business Persons of the Year in Washington, the desire to develop and manufacture from start to finish made him decide to follow the entrepreneurial career path.
“Not many trades allow for this to happen and just being part of the process does not come with the same sense of accomplishment,” Schule said.
His company, Cobalt Enterprises, Inc., has converted from a commercial manufacturer to a leading aerospace/military manufacturer. To reach their goals, Schule and his team “keep perfecting current process and adding more process capability to create less competition for Cobalt in our manufacturing sector.”
Schule sums up his most important business lesson in one word: integrity. Without it, Schule said, a business can never truly succeed.
He also has practical advice for anyone starting out a new business.
“Make sure you have someone on your team, either employee, partner, yourself or business that can effectively navigate all financial and tax issues,” Schule said. “Without this support the chance of failure is high.”
If you recently opened a business or hope to in the future, go back and read through this entire series. The Small Business Persons of the Year have so much knowledge to impart.
Don’t forget, May 12-16 is National Small Business Week. No matter where you live, go out and support your local businesses.