Advice to Small Business Owners

INSIGHT Sep 5 2020

As entrepreneurs, J Strategies’ principals know how hard it can be. Here’s their advice for people looking to hang up a shingle.

In 2010, Jaime and Julie were young women who had spent their careers in New York politics, alliance development, and public relations who were ready to be their own bosses. So, after months of developing spreadsheets and business plans, they jumped head-first into launching their company based out of their homes with no employees.

They created a plan of action wherein success was the only option. They focused on getting out into the market and securing new business fast in the hopes that – one day soon – they could pay themselves modest salaries and expand. Most importantly, they recognized they had a niche and believed in their skills and abilities.

Eventually, they carved out a lane for themselves, hired staff, delivered for their clients, and helped some good causes and honest businesses seeking expertise and advice. Now, a full decade later, J Strategies is a multi-million-dollar company with over twenty employees, three offices in two states, and a suite of services available to clients up and down the east coast.

In no particular order, here is advice to other potential entrepreneurs looking to start something great:

  • Tune out negative voices. This is your passion, not theirs. So, don’t let the naysayers tell you what you can’t do. Follow your dream, but make sure you create a comprehensive business plan that expects the unexpected – you need to make sure you can overcome obstacles.

  • Don’t undervalue your services. Many service-oriented firms often make the mistake of offering what they do for less money because they are not confident their expertise is worth what the market dictates, especially as a start-up. First, you have to understand what that market rate is for services. Do homework. Make sure you know what others are getting for their time before you put a value on yours. Never underestimate your potential for growth or the value of what you bring to the table.

  • Choose Your Style. A large part of the firm’s success is the ability of its principals and staff to relate to others and be approachable. People are often told to suffocate their nuances to be taken seriously. Own who you are and use it to drive results. You alone set the tone and culture for your business, nobody else.

  • Improving Yourself Never Stops. After ten years, Julie and Jaime are are always learning. With an office in Albany, another in New York City and one more in Boston, running a company which tripled in under a year was a challenge. So, we made it a priority to improve ourselves. We read, we listen to podcasts, we watch Ted Talks, we speak to entrepreneurs in similar circumstances to see how they did it. No one is done learning. Don’t think that you can stop just because you hung up a shingle.

  • Foster the Workforce That You Want. J Strategies is a company that actively tackles inherent bias and workforce discrimination. We created merit-based, fair pay structures, flexible schedules, and an environment that motivates every employee to reach higher. The firm invests in professional development that stresses communication and cultural competency. From this, it has cultivated a phenomenal team.

Being a small business owner is tough but being a woman who owns a small business can be even tougher. Pursue your passion but keep your eye on the prize and remain focused on your mission and success will follow.