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9 Great Tips for Small Business Owners (from Actual Small Business Owners)

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ONE37pm and Squarespace have teamed up to create an editorial series that offers resource support and expert advice for entrepreneurs and small business owners in our community who want to start or grow their own business. You can try Squarespace for free to create your own website, then use code “ONE37pm” to get 10% off when you’re ready to go live.

It’s tricky trying to figure out the right moment (or even the right plan) to launch your own business—and finally realize a life-long dream. But as you weigh your options, it’s helpful to get the real scoop from small business owners who have been there, done that…and come out successful on the other side. Of course, success means different things for each business and founder, but it could mean picking the right website platform or simply creating and sticking to deadlines. We chatted with a handful of successful startup founders to get their best tips on the must-do’s for getting your small business off the ground.

1. Make Sure There’s a Need for What You’re Selling

“Before you do anything else, be sure you’re solving a real problem. Test your value proposition with real people before spending a lot on your business. Don’t start at the solution and move backward.” —Kevin Gindi, cofounder of Cheeky

2. Have Your Elevator Pitch Down Pat

“Make sure you can say what your business is in one clear sentence. You’d be surprised how much work it takes to narrow it down to one that’s actually concise.” —Alison Cayne, founder and CEO of Haven’s Kitchen

3. As Soon as Possible, Create a Website

“We can’t emphasize enough how crucial a website is. It was the single most important piece for our business. During COVID-19, it was honestly the main thing that kept us afloat—it shifted so much demand online, we saw tenfold growth year-to-year on our site. We have Squarespace to thank for getting us up and running. They made the process of starting and launching a website so much easier than we imagined. For us, the two most important things were the ease of setup and analytics. Building our site by customizing a template and using their SEO tools made setting up extremely easy. Once we got going, we also realized the analytic tools were unmatched. Being able to tell where our traffic was coming from and how it was happening was really useful for growing our business.” —Craig Deahl and David Roa, founders of Superlost Coffee

4. Become an All-Weather-Delegator

“As a business owner, ultimately your job is to inspire a team to build your vision. It’s best to get started hiring earlier than when it feels comfortable. That way you can get that critical practice on managing the workflows of your team rather than doing every task yourself.” —Gareth Everard, co-founder of Rockwell Razors

5. Use Your Core Values as a North Star

“Any and all decisions for the business (product, hiring, vendors, partnerships, campaigns) should boil down to one question: Do these activities or identities fully align with your company’s core focus and values? If it is not a resounding ‘yes,’ don’t do it no matter how tempting it is. With this ideology, you begin to have much more clarity in your decision making process. The earlier you take on this way of thinking, the better.” —Mark Mastrandrea, co-founder & CEO of IKONICK Canvas Art

6. Turn Your Best Customers Into Superfans

“Don’t be afraid to hop on a call with them to get real critical feedback, show them that you genuinely care, and make them feel special.” —Reid Moncada, co-founder and CEO of Fitted

7. Remind Yourself Why You Started (Sometimes Daily)

“Every relationship takes work, and being an entrepreneur means being in a 24/7 committed relationship with yourself and your business. The highs are high, and the lows can be lonely. Most people, even friends and family, won’t always see your behind-the-scenes or the grind it takes to build a company, but don’t let that discourage you. Wake up every day and remind yourself why you started, the problem you are figuring out a solution to and the impact you want to make for others.” —Rachel Perkins, founder of Perks Lifestyle Management

8. Show Respect from Top to Bottom

The advice I would give small business owners is to be convinced in your vision and do not be deterred from that. Listen and take advice from everyone but do not let that distract you from your mission. Additionally, treat every one of your employees with equal respect and value, whether it’s your CMO or the janitor, each person of your team is essential to accomplishing the company’s long term goal and you need everyone pulling the same way. —Justin J. Giangrande, founder of Queens Gaming Collective and The Network Advisory

9. As the Saying Goes, Always Under Promise and Over Deliver

“This old adage actually holds a lot of water. Short-term, people will like hearing that their project is going to be quick, easy and inexpensive. Long-term, they remember how it felt when you delivered quality product ahead of schedule. I think it’s especially important for beginners to be careful about the expectations they set, because it takes experience to learn how supplier shortages, hidden costs, shipping delays and other issues can throw a wrench into your plans. Build time into your schedule for those contingencies. You’ll look like a hero if you don’t use it, and you won’t look bad if you do.” —Dan Gordon, owner and operator of Dan Gordon Printing

Head to Squarespace.com to get started on a free trial and when you’re ready to launch your website, use the offer code ONE37pm to get 10% off your first purchase.