SBA 2014 Best Business OwnersIf you’ve read part one and part two of our article series on the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) picks for the best small business persons in the country, you may have noticed some common themes.

Small business owners may just be the hardest working people in the country. They are rarely “off from work” because they have to find coverage when staff members get sick, make sure the bills are paid and handle all other problems.

Becoming the best small business owners in the country doesn’t happen overnight. Keep reading to benefit from years of trials and tribulations of experienced and successful small business owners.

Continuing alphabetically from the first two articles in this series, here are the next set of the SBA winners for 2014:

  • Montana- W. Randall Hafer (President) and Janna Sue Hafer (CFO) High Plains Architects
  • Nebraska- Douglas Garwood (President/CEO) and Scott Garwood (Vice President/COO) Garwood Enterprises, Inc. Dba Cardinal Farms
  • Nevada- Jarrod Lopiccolo, Season Lopiccolo and Michael Thomas (Owners) Noble Studios
  • New Hampshire- Chris Licata (President) Blake’s All Natural Foods
  • New Jersey- Kiran K. Gill (President) PARS Environmental, Inc.
  • New Mexico- Michelle “Shelly” Herbst (President & CEO) Marron and Associates, Inc.
  • New York- Michael Allen (President) Z-Axis, Inc.
  • North Carolina- Andrew Kratz and Joel Graybeal (Managing Partners) Triangle Rock Club
  • North Dakota- Dean Atchison (Owner and CEO) Spectrum Aeromed
  • Ohio- Michelle Therese Kerr (President) Oxford Consulting Group
  • Oklahoma- William Larry Mocha (CEO) APSCO, Inc.
  • Oregon- William Charles Taylor (CEO) and Brook Ann Harvey-Taylor (President )Pacifica
  • Pennsylvania- Michael Cherock (President) AE Works

If You Don’t Love It, Don’t Do It

Randy and Janna Hafer, the 2014 Small Business Persons of the Year in Montana, became business owners so they could pursue architectural projects they really cared about. Randy wanted to be an architect since he was a child, so opening High Plains Architects gave him and Janna the freedom to focus on projects and development opportunities in areas like downtown revitalization, historic adaptive reuse and creating high-performance buildings.

SBA Montana Best Small Business OwnerRunning their own business taught them how important it is to work with others who are equally committed to the work.

“As a professional service business, passionate employees who share our architectural values are critical in our business,” Janna Hafer said.

To continue their mission of serving and inspiring their community by designing innovative and cost-effective buildings, having a strong team is vital.

“We plan on reaching that goal by nurturing and encouraging our employees in order to transfer ownership to the next generation of leaders,” Janna Hafer said.

If you are starting a business, she also advises you to make sure you love it.

“It is important to love what you do because running your own business is not easy,” she said. “Understand your passion and follow it!”

Create a Work Environment that People Love

SBA Nevada Best Small Business OwnerFor Jarrod Lopiccolo, Season Lopiccolo and Michael Thomas, the Small Business Persons of the Year in Nevada, company culture is a high priority.

As the owners of Noble Studios, a full-service digital agency specializing in web, mobile and social media, their major operating principle is passion.

“It’s not about the money. It’s about finding your passion,” said Thomas. “You have to love what you do. Passion is sometimes the only thing that gets you through the grind.”

Noble Studios has almost quintupled the size of the staff in the last four years, yet their strong company culture remains intact. Thomas is proud to have employees who genuinely love coming to work each day and wants to continue to empower those employees to make the business successful.

“Trust is the key in building meaningful relationships with your employees,” Thomas said. “It’s all about the people.”

Be Honest With Yourself

Doug Garwood, President/CEO of Cardinal Farms, knows it takes serious work to make a small business a success. The Small Business Person of the Year in Nebraska turned a traditional family farming operation into a diversified agriculture-related business within a growing industrial development.

SBA Nebraska Best Small Business OwnerRunning a business isn’t easy, so it is important for potential business owners to have realistic expectations. The most important lesson that Garwood has learned so far is to “be adaptable.”

“Know your financial situation clearly at all times,” Garwood said. “Be honest with yourself about the chances for success.”

To help improve your chance of running a successful business, make the most of the expertise of your team.

“Tap into other people’s experience and knowledge,” Garwood said. “Don’t reinvent the wheel.”

For more wisdom from the top small business owners in the country, come back tomorrow for part four of our article series.

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