After being in business for 10 years I’ve learned a LOT. It’s not often you get to step back and think about where you’ve been and what you’ve learned along the way, but I’m going to do that today. In my opinion, here are the most important lessons I’ve learned after running a small business for 10 years:
- You’re only as strong as your team
A business can only be as strong as the people who work there. It doesn’t matter if you have a killer idea, service, or product. Unless you have the right people in place you’re going to run into problems. Take the time to build a strong team, and once you have them, do everything you can to keep them.
- Great service is the great equalizer
I can’t tell you how many clients come to us with the same story of being burned by their previous service provider. Crazy high costs, slow response times, or just disappearing altogether are typical of what we hear. If there’s one thing I would tell a small business owner to focus on, it would be your service. Provide a high quality service, respect your clients, tell the truth, and do what you say you’re going to do. The rest will fall into place.
- There will be ups and downs
Over these last 10 years I’ve watched as IFC has ridden the proverbial rollercoaster of a service provider, not to mention the struggles of running a business during COVID. There have been really hard times. But there have also been really great times. It’s so important to not get caught up in the rough patches and doubt yourself or your team. Push through, learn from your mistakes, and work hard to make sure they don’t happen again.
- Learn to delegate and trust your team
Probably the most difficult thing I had to learn as a small business owner was how to delegate tasks and put my trust in my team. If great service was my mantra, how could I hand off projects to someone else and still feel comfortable with the outcome? If you’ve hired the right people, it is imperative that you trust them as well. Don’t spend every waking minute being a micromanager. It will consume you, burn you out, and you’ll lose your passion for your business. Find people you can trust, delegate tasks, and move on.
- Avoid burnout and chasing the dollar
Owning a small business can be incredibly rewarding. Being in business for 10 years is truly one of my greatest accomplishments. The community we support along with the work we do can be so uplifting, but when I find that my work has become all-consuming, bad things happen. I can name multiple times I’ve had to take a step back from my business and rethink what’s most important to me. Do everything you can to run a successful business, but don’t let it come at the expense of family, those you love, or the amazing team you’ve built. What used to be rewarding can ultimately become a source of stress. Find time for yourself and your team to step away from work and refocus on what’s most important in life.
Tony Kraayenbrink is the founder, owner, and website guru of IFC Studios. Outside the office he loves soccer, Sour Patch Kids, and is endlessly inspired by his amazing wife and children.