Invaluable Advice From

17 of America's 

Top Small-Business Owners

“We’ve had this business-owners group where we get together at somebody’s operation.  …We have a potluck, we have a topic, and usually it’s something (the host company) is struggling with. …We have an hour or so discussion about that topic. It’s extremely powerful. I always encourage folks to start something like that in their area,” Pete Johnson.


“Surround yourself around the best people you can and give them an opportunity to do what they love to do best. Each one of my staff and faculty are leaders themselves. I cannot succeed without them,” John Stonecipher.


“Try to find a mentor if possible. I was incredibly fortunate to have had Art Christoffersen as my business partner… He was a great sounding board and really never told me what to do, but he asked some great questions that led me to the answer,” Judith Huck.


“I guess I would say don’t be afraid. If they have a business idea but are afraid because of a lack of funding or experience and so on, I have to tell them don’t worry, these are not going to be an issue in this country,” Dr. Mendi Yazdanpanah.


“The advice I’d five is to make as many mistakes as you can, as fast as you can. Get them out of the way. No one hits a home run right away,” Chris Runyan.


“One of the things we were told is pretty simple—do the best you can, and do it when you say you’re going to. In my business, it makes a big difference,” Matt Qualey.

“(Social responsibility) is incredibly lacking in business today, we don’t wear it on our sleeve, it makes us feel good. It makes us get up in the morning. My role is to be a good role model, a much better steward for the community.”


“Do not underestimate the amount of effort, perseverance, and discipline that is required to be successful. I cannot stress that enough. There will be problems and you must be ready mentally, physically and spiritually to deal with them. If you are starting a business to get rich and work less, then you are on the wrong path. One should be working on enjoying the journey not thinking about the destination. The riches-seekers never reach it,” Noah Thomas Leask.


“Be collaborative with your staff, your customers, and your vendors or suppliers. The more you trust the team knowledge and wisdom of those around you, the more quickly you can recognize and adapt to changes, provide better products or services, and the stronger your organization will be,” Ellen Didier.


“It’s about long-term relationships and treating your customers right. Do what’s right for the long-term. Once you win the business, that’s when the hard work begins… It’s all about relationships and reputation,” Mike Sawyers.


“Look at every interaction as a networking opportunity. You never know when a business opportunity will present itself. A chance encounter could be a big break for your company,” Regina Broudy.  “Our employees, honestly, they take such an interest, like it’s their company. We treat them like family, we give them great benefits. That’s very important because if they’re not really part of your team, it doesn’t work. They’re excited when good things happen. We started with nine people, now we have 65. There are so many little details that we can do for the customer to make things go well for them.”


“We definitely have, well, actually have just defined our core values and crystallized what we think illumination has been built on: a spirit of optimism and believing in ourselves.  …Don’t be afraid to lean forward and take risks 13 dream big and then believe in yourself to make it happen,” Karri Bass.


“Build your business around your life, not your life around your business. This will give you stamina to build a business with longevity,” Brenda Brock.


“Develop a daily P&L and ask yourself ‘Are we making money today or losing money today?’ This will allow for you to fix a problem quickly or continue to do the things that work,” Jill Blankenship.


“It comes from your other. And she says when you tell somebody you’re going to do something, do it. That’s it. And it still rings true today. …I find in business today people tell you a lot of things and then they don’t follow through with it whether it be employees, vendors, customers or prospects, whomever, it’s very frustraiting,” Jason Cohen.


“First you have to be passionate about your business because having your own business is not a job it is a way of life. Second, create (and articulate) your vision for the business and then be relentless in executing your go-to-market strategies and tactics. A solid plan is important; hard work and execution are critical,” Tom Nieman.


“Growing a business is about taking risks in a competitive environment, while continuing to build and maintain a solid reputation that your company delivers the utmost customer service. And very importantly any business owners should strive to surround themselves with trustworthy, reliable people who support their company’s mission and values,” Tom Loftus.