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Business Lessons from a Small Business CEO

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By Marsha Friedman

• Be flexible when building your team. You hired Person A to do Job A, but as you get to know him, you find he has talents and skills better suited to another job – possibly a job you haven’t even identified. Be open to switching things up. Your business will benefit from having the right people in the right jobs, and your employees will be happier and more productive when they’re doing what they’re really good at doing. No one I know enjoys work they find too easy – boring – or too challenging. You’ll have a great, loyal team if you play to individuals’ strengths.

• Don’t spend more than you make. It may sound like a no-brainer, but based on Statistic Brain’s numbers, far too many people make that deadly mistake. If your product or service isn’t earning enough to pay the bills, it may be time to re-evaluate what you’re offering. Is there a demand for it? Is it a quality product or service? Do you need to cut expenses—even forego taking a salary—to balance the budget while you build up the business? If you make the mistake of relying on credit or investors to pay for your daily expenses, it’s going to be difficult to evaluate whether or not your business model is working.

• If you borrow, invest it in the company. If you’re going to draw a salary from that money, don’t be tempted to take more than you absolutely need to survive. If your lifestyle is a little uncomfortable, you will be far more motivated to do whatever it takes to make your business thrive.

• Don’t allow marketing to fall by the wayside. One of the most important components of any business plan is its marketing strategy. Too often, people don’t think that through with the same rigor they tackle concerns like projected cash flow and long-term goals. Or, they do put thought and effort into planning for market research, promotion and positioning – and then never follow through.

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