For anyone contemplating a small business, the volume of resources available from which to mine information can be overwhelming, to say the least. The considerations are endless and everyone wants to offer advice, opinions and business solutions.

Yet, the best wisdom may simply come from those who have been through the process before, experienced challenges, learned a lot, succeeded and are willing to mentor and share their practical insights. These five small business owners, each with unique perspectives and time-earned expertise, generously share some very valuable lessons about starting a business.

 Meal prep in the Early Bird Cookery kitchen.
Meal prep in the New York-based Early Bird Cookery kitchen. — Early Bird Cookery

Amy Miller, owner & founder, Early Bird Cookery

Who we are: A farm-to-table meal delivery, catering and supper club based in Cochecton, New York.

I would strongly encourage people to utilize and take advantage of their local Small Business Administration office. I leaned heavily on them and got such great advice and insight— from help crafting a business plan to financial advice to competitive analysis. They were incredibly accessible and friendly and came equipped with so many helpful tools and resources. It took a lot of the weight off of my shoulders.

It can be very daunting starting out on your own and I think it’s incredibly helpful to get any and all guidance you can. No need to try and reinvent the wheel; just get the clarity and knowledge to invent your unique and very needed product/service. Follow Early Bird Cookery on Instagram: @earlybirdcookery.

 Asya Blue Design, owner & creative director of Asya Blue Design
Asya Blue, owner and creative director of art and graphic design agency Asya Blue Design. — Asya Blue Design

Asya Blue, owner & creative director, Asya Blue Design

Who we are: A New York City-based creative agency providing creative/art direction and graphic design from branding to book covers.

Now more than ever, having flexibility, the willingness to innovate and saying “yes” are all greatly rewarded by potential clients. A client does not want to hear why you can’t do something. The answer is always yes, and we figure out how later.

Perhaps it’s learning from a pool of resources and contacts that you have made along the way, needing more time or a bigger budget or farming out the work to someone who is an expert for a particular need, but embracing technology and its tools will help you maintain this sense of flexibility and innovation. It allows us to move forward and ultimately take advantage of the benefits that come with being your own boss. Follow Asya Blue Design on Facebook: @AsyaBlueGraphicDesign.

 OEM CEO Wendy King.
Wendy King, CEO of Santa Ana, California-based OEM Materials & Supplies, Inc. — OEM Materials & Supplies, Inc.

Wendy King, CEO, OEM Materials & Supplies, Inc.

Who we are: A distributor of industrial and PPE supplies based in Santa Ana, California.

The best advice that I have can offer came from two different sources in my life. The first was from a professor who said, “If you do what you love, you’ll never work another day in your life,” meaning that if you love what you do, it is not work.

Starting a business because you want to is an empowering feeling. It means that you trust your own abilities and desires to become who you want to be or do what you want to do in your life. It means that you want to create your own destiny.

The second piece of advice came from my father, who said, “Always leave them laughing.” When people laugh together, it ignites a chemistry in the brain of “feeling good.” If you can set yourself apart by making people feel good, they will remember you and look forward to another encounter. This connection for a small business owner can be very rewarding — both personally and to the business — as it leads to repeat customers and business growth. Follow OEM Materials & Supplies on Facebook: @OEMMaterials.

 Handcrafted vintage-inspired straps for guitars, cameras and bags from SoRetro.
Handcrafted vintage-inspired straps for guitars, cameras and bags from SoRetro Straps. — SoRetro

Alicia Soret, executive director, founder & creator, So Retro Straps

Who we are: A manufacturer of custom handcrafted bag, camera and guitar straps based in Detroit, Michigan, and Vero Beach, Florida.

Starting a new business begins with many things, and investing in your logo, branding, website, packaging and overall appearance is so important.

Put your logo in peoples faces so they will remember it, and keep doing that. Interact with people and get to know them and what they're interested in. Have a good selection and accommodate custom requests, if and when possible. Have a consistent social media presence so your customers and fans can stay in touch. Remind them that you are a real person by sharing stories and experiences, always maintaining a positive tone.

Keep track of your inventory so you don't overspend unnecessarily on materials. And finally, use a reliable payment gateway or two for your transactions. I use Square for my in-person sales and Stripe for my website integration. It allows me to easily separate my transactions and differentiate where the funds came from when I import my sales into Quickbooks. Follow SoRetro Straps on Instagram: @soretrostraps.

 Endless options for kitchen remodels and updates at Kitchen Tune-Up.
Endless options for kitchen remodels and updates are available at Malvern, Pennsylvania-based Kitchen Tune-Up. — Kitchen Tune-Up

Jeff Toren, owner, Kitchen Tune-Up

Who we are: A franchised kitchen remodeling company specializing in affordable kitchen makeovers based in Malvern, Pennsylvania.

To start, pick a business that you have a passion for and are well suited to run. Consider a franchise to make it easier and quicker to start and reach profitability, as they will provide a "menu" for running and starting the business.

Make sure you have the financial resources lined up to both support the startup costs for your business and your home expenses during the startup phase. If your personal finances are not in order, you will be pressured to pull out more income from the business sooner and are more likely to have to force the business into raising more capital and holding back growth.

Be careful who you pick as business partners, too, as they are people you are choosing to hitch your current and future success on and ending a partnership can be harder than a divorce.

Lastly, as soon as possible, focus on how you can begin to hire people that can take on some of the jobs you're doing so you can continue to focus on growing the business. Follow Kitchen Tune-Up on Instagram: @ktumainline & Facebook: @KTUMainLinePA.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published October 08, 2020