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I’ve always believed you can learn something from everybody. Before I launched JScott Marketing & PR, I invited a slew of professionals out for coffee to glean wisdom from their small business advice. I pressed them to reveal what makes their business model work, what their best practices are, and what no-nos they’ve learned over the years. I was amazed at how many folks agreed to pass an hour sharing secrets.

Each of these quotes has, in some way, fed the launch or growth of my own small business. They’ve helped me to shape attainable goals, to keep a positive attitude on tough days, and to prevent things that feel urgent from derailing progress toward what is truly important.

In this season of reflection and resolution, here are 13 wise pieces of small business advice for work or for life.

“There is no shame in failing if you make a noble effort.” -Rob Snyder, Director, American Studies at Rutgers University

“Don’t cheap out on infrastructure. Put in place big business practices of hiring, firing, financial tracking and modeling, processes, and more.” – Maureen Cronin, Worldways Social Marketing

“Create templates and document your processes in a way that will ease the burden and time required to train new hires. If you can teach someone to do a test, then you free yourself to focus on growing your business, getting new clients, or taking time off.” – Ted Ives, Ted Ives Consulting

“Have a focus. If you’re too general, people won’t know what to do with you. If you can fill a certain hole, when someone hears a friend mention they need your exact shape, it’s a good fit. You’ll also reduce the number of non-qualified referrals that come your way.” – Ted Ives, Ted Ives Consulting

“Know everyone. Be nice to everyone. Get coffee if someone asks. Make connections for other people.” – Sue McDonald, Angles & Insights

“Be indepensible. It’s easier to keep a good client happy than to find a new one. In practice, that can mean not nickel and diming a client. Sharing useful info that is outside of the scope of a project. Passing on tips or resources, which takes very little time but is apprecaited by the client.” – Kathern Gagliano, Amplify Marketing

“Take every client that comes your way to keep the lights on. Once you build up your roster, you can be selective or let inefficient clients go.” – Demian Cabral, Tribal Vision

“Stress the benefits of your proposal to sell the work.” – Bob Vetromille, SVM

“Don’t be afraid to go out on your own.” – Nicole Diseo

“Value yourself and your clients will, too.” – Marianne Lee, Marianne Lee Photography

“Use professional photography. It’ll help you stand out and will reflect the quality of your services.” – Esther Novak, VanguardComm

“Look at every aspect of how you run your business as a positive. If you don’t, clients will pick up on the negativity and not value your services and operations for what they offer. Believe in yourself.” – Esther Novak, VanguardComm

“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Good advice is a gift that keeps on giving

Over the first few years of launching and expanding my business, my brand, and my team, I’ve returned again and again to these nuggets of small business wisdom. I wrote this post in part to take the opportunity to revisit this sage advice and reflect on where it applies to the current state of my business and my goals for the coming year. Checking in, and asking myself the most important question each year, keeps me on my toes and continues to make owning my own business an adventure and challenge that keeps me going and growing.

What’s your favorite piece of small business advice?

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