Mentor roundup: Secrets of success from small business owners

Published · 3 min read

On the second day of Sage Summit, while the attendees were immersing in learning about partnership opportunities, product roadmaps and even a deep dive discussion on the accounting profession, we were enjoying a series of fun, inspiring chats with a few of our mentors.

Here are some highlights, stories and the more-than-occasional pearl of wisdom.

Carmen Baker, CEO & President

Process Design & Development, LLC, process efficiency expert

“Until you sit down and really review your business processes, you’re operating with band aid systems. This builds in gaps, inefficiencies and includes steps you don’t need. Companies can tremendously improve their revenue streams and collection of money simply by re-engineering their processes. When small business owners get overwhelmed in their business, they instantly think: we need more people or we need more computers! But maybe…all you need is to look at your processes.”

Rieva Lesonsky, CEO of GrowBiz Media

“It’s hard to maintain the customers you have and also maintain the pipeline of new customers. Entrepreneurs tend to fall on one side or another. Everyone knows that we don’t have enough time in general, but you have to make time to serve both. One side is inevitably going to fail at one time or another and if you’re prepared on the other side, it won’t be so catastrophic.”

Justin Packshaw, Co-founder and CEO

De Roemer, explorer, philanthropist, and speaker

“When I left the army after 10 years, I came to NYC to work for a bank to learn more about money. But I always knew I wanted to do my own thing. I had no idea what it was. I was an entrepreneur in my DNA. So…I started a few companies: a newspaper in the Mediterranean and got involved in the online space quite early on. Lots of bizarre things and opportunities. But they didn’t all work.

“My wife was working for a jewellery company in the UK and I was watching all of this on the side-lines and I thought ‘you’re so talented, why aren’t you doing this for yourself?’ And so we did, together. (It’s quite a dangerous thing, working with your missus and her with me!) But it worked. She’s very creative and I’m quite organised and it sort of worked. We have been around enough now and we have survived. We’re still here.”

Edmund Dante Hamilton, CEO and President

Internet Webpages Newspaper Inc.

“I show my clients that WordPress is more than a blogging platform. And you can control it yourself. I teach my clients that and once they see that they can do this themselves…they feel like they can do anything!”

Bruce Montgomery

Small Business Mentor and SCORE

“The days of the rugged individualist model is gone. The idea that it’s all about me and my team, soup to nuts, beginning to end, is gone. If we look at the more successful companies like Uber and Airbnb, they could not have done anything without their inclusive mind set. The thing that’s so phenomenal about that model is that everyone makes a little money: the drivers make a little money, the company makes a little money, it’s a new cooperative economic mindset that’s working, seemingly overnight.”

Janice B. Gordon

Problem Solving Company Ltd

“Business owners don’t talk to their customers nearly enough. It’s about understanding that it’s not all about you. It’s about your customer and knowing that your customer is your best asset. Small businesses put all their life, blood, energy into their businesses. But it’s all their own perception of what the customer wants, not actually what they have heard from the customer! I tell small business owners all the time, don’t even start with a website, just go out and sell, go out and talk to your customer and network!”

Jessica Leshawn

Mogul Academy

“Don’t neglect your social media. It can help you with branding and drawing in new customers. So take the time to research hot topics within your industry and make sure you engage your customers as much as possible.”

Mary Hodges, Cofounder

Startup Legal

“The number one legal mistake that causes the most problems for small businesses is not talking about the roles and expectations for their business partners before opening the business. A lot of times people are starting companies with a friend or a colleague they know and they fail to talk about who owns what, what the responsibilities are going to be. If things don’t go as planned, they don’t know what the exit strategy is going to be. It usually causes a lot of tension and friction. I recommend that business owners get familiar with what kinds of things are important to establish in a partnership: buy out clauses…what happens if someone wants to leave, what happens if there’s a death or disability. They are hard discussions but they’re necessary discussions to have.”

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