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Small Business Insights: 7 Lessoned Learned From Real Business Owners

The small business community is thriving now more than ever, with nearly 60% of entrepreneurs belonging to a community group. While product offerings may vary vastly, many key business principles remain universally true. We turned to real business owners and recent studies to share seven small business insights you can take with you into your entrepreneurial journey.

1. Stop Waiting for the “Right” Time and Take the Plunge

Starting a business is rewarding, but it’s not without risk. A recent study shows 18% of Americans report not having an entrepreneurial mindset because they’re not enough of a risk-taker. 

If you’re one of the 78% of Americans who has thought about starting a business but you’re teetering on the edge of uncertainty, take it from those who have walked in your shoes: the time is now.

“There’s no ‘right’ time to start your business. Right now is the right time,” says Isabel Cervantes, founder of Isa Paints.

“If you have an idea or a dream for a business, just think — will you regret not doing it? It’s much better to go ahead and give it a try and see what happens. You’ll learn; you’ll iterate. And it may not grow like you hope, but it certainly won’t if you don’t give it a try,” says Kristina Vetter, founder of Tonik Cycling.

Action item: Take steps towards your dream business, even if you don’t feel ready. Draft up a business plan, brainstorm names, or mock up a logo.

2. Start With Small, Achievable Goals

Entrepreneurs are big-picture thinkers. It’s their superpower. They can see the final goal and the zoomed-out situation, while others get hung up with nitty-gritty details. But when it comes to setting goals, sometimes it’s best to start with the small tasks that are realistic and achievable.

“It’s just about scheduling time, writing it down, and making committable goals that I try to achieve every single day — short and realistic goals; tiny habits that I can focus on. And making sure by the end of the day, I get it done,” says Michelle Harrison, founder of HoneyInk Publishing.

Action item: Brainstorm high-level goals like increasing monthly revenue or growing your team. Then break these big goals into small actionable steps that you can tackle today.

3. Stay Consistent to Achieve Those Goals

Incfile’s newest study found that 73% of Americans think that the top trait for entrepreneurs is high motivation. It turns out, small business owners agree.

“You have to stay consistent, whatever you do, because every year, every month, every day, you’re building up to something,” says Khadijah Suleman, founder of Aloaye Clothing.

“I think what is needed is just continual commitment, continual vision, disciplined action every single day,” says Kelsey Edwards, entertainer and entrepreneur.

Action item: Reduce any potential points of friction for achieving your goals. Make it easier on yourself by spending 15 minutes at the end of your day to set yourself up for what you need tomorrow morning.


4. You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Many business owners are successful solopreneurs. Some people just work better alone. But if you find yourself craving a team of business-oriented people to share the burden of entrepreneurship, consider a business partner.

For Mario Benjamin, co-founder of Hella Coastal, partnership is everything. “I tried to start a business a while ago, and it didn’t take off only because I was doing it by myself. But if you partner up with someone that’s like-minded, then everything just falls into place.”

Action item: Don’t close yourself off to the possibility of a business partnership. Just make sure to thoroughly interview each other to make sure your goals align.


5. Protect Your Brand With a Trademark

You work hard to build a brand that stands out. Filing a trademark ensures no other company can claim your intellectual property, dilute your brand, or even steal potential customers due to confusion. 

“One of those mistakes early on was not trademarking our name, especially in such a competitive field like skincare. We didn’t trademark the old name, and I knew that it wasn’t going to be the last time this happened. If we don’t own the name, we don’t own our brand,” says Aoxue Tang, founder of July Sky.

Action item: If you don’t have an existing trademark, consider getting started with a trademark name search.


6. Don’t Sacrifice Self-Care

You spend so much time making sure your business and employees are taken care of — but are you spending that same amount of care and attention on yourself? It’s easy to forget, but self-care as an entrepreneur is crucial to stay motivated and avoid burnout.

“An important part of my daily practice to keep focused and disciplined is meditation. Life gets so busy and I’m doing so many things … outside of being an entrepreneur, I’m also so many other things. In order to stay focused on where I’m going and to maintain that discipline, I have to check in with myself constantly.” says Kelsey.

If you do find yourself working long hours, remember to set healthy boundaries to avoid burnout. “There’s going to be peaks and valleys in life, and work is no exception,” says Danilo Batson, founder of the nonprofit Spicy Green Book. “Work hard, do what you have to do, but also know that the human body can only take so much, and you should put some kind of restraint on that.” He says, “I try to put myself a timeframe around it.

Action item: Block off time in your Google Calendar or other scheduling tool for self-care time, whatever that looks like. Meditation, a workout, or just screen-free time can only happen if you’re intentional about it.

7. Stay Resilient and Learn From Failures

“A lot of things might not go your way — things don’t usually work out the way you envision them working out. So, it teaches you a lot about yourself, your personal work ethic, and how you handle tough times,” says Guilherme Maia Silva, founder of Força Foods.

“The only thing we can say is don’t give up. If you have an idea in your mind, and you have full trust and faith in what you want to do, go for it. There’s gonna be those down periods and times where you feel like this is becoming a little too much. Regardless of whatever’s going on outside of that, don’t ever give up. Keep pushing forward,” shares Mario.

Action item: Lean on your small business community during hard times. They’ve likely gone through something similar and can offer words of encouragement.

With determination, achievable goals, consistency, community, and resilience, your business will thrive. Stay curious and take advantage of business resources available. For free business consulting and at-cost training, find your nearest SBDC.

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