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Surviving and thriving in the competitive landscape of running a small business is no small feat. I’m proud to say this month, we here at Quintessence Group are celebrating 25 years in business. Honestly, I can’t believe it. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.  In the early years, we weathered the storms and eventually flourished; then, the industry trends led us to focus on social media marketing, and in the last decade, we evolved into a full-service marketing agency. We also created a second company, SmallBizLady Enterprises, to educate and train entrepreneurs. Along the way, it’s been a wild ride, but I wouldn’t trade the journey for anything. 

Lately, a few of my mentee and coaching clients have asked me, “What are the secrets to their longevity in business? We’ll lots of things.  practices that can help small businesses not only survive but thrive for twenty-five years and beyond.


Vision and Adaptability 

Building a sustainable business starts with a clear vision. I’ve been successful because I possess a strong sense of purpose and a vision for the future. And I never stopped tracking industry trends. Your business vision must be adaptable to the changing needs of your clients and your industry. Markets change, technologies evolve, and buyer preferences shift. The one thing you must do to stay in business for twenty-five years is understand the importance of staying flexible.  Don’t fall in love with your business model; it could kill your business. 


Focus on Your Customer 

Customer satisfaction is the lifeblood of any business, especially a small one. With the goal of repeat business, you must consistently meet and exceed customer expectations. This means delivering high-quality products or services on time and on budget, providing excellent customer service, and building lasting relationships with clients. Small businesses that prioritize the customer experience tend to enjoy repeat business, positive word-of-mouth referrals, and a loyal customer base that sustains them through the years.


Cultivate Strong Relationships 

In business, relationships matter—a lot. People do business with people they like, know, and trust.  Whether it’s with customers, suppliers, partners, or employees, cultivating strong relationships is essential for long-term success. If you are a B2B service business, this is especially true because customers always have other options.  As a business that has been around for twenty-five years, we understand the value of building trust, mutual respect, good communication to build and rapport with customers. These relationships often translate into loyalty, reliability, and a network of support that can help weather challenges and capitalize on opportunities.


Embrace Innovation 

Innovation is key to staying relevant and competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment.  You will stand the test of time if you embrace innovation—whether it’s adopting new technologies such as ChatGPT, introducing innovative products or services, or implementing creative marketing strategies, such as a social media sales funnel or video marketing. By continuously seeking out ways to innovate, your business can not only survive but also thrive in the long run.


Strategic Financial Planning 

Financial management is a cornerstone of longevity in business.  In my early years in business, I didn’t know how to read my financial statements. I didn’t track my profitability, but then I hired an accountant who taught me what I needed to know. I learned prudent budgeting, strategic financial planning, and innovative tax strategies. This included managing cash flow effectively, minimizing debt, investing wisely in growth opportunities, and planning for contingencies. But even when you plan, you can still get hit with a major economic downturn, such as the recession of 2009 and the Pandemic. However, by maintaining financial discipline, we navigated those economic fluctuations with greater resilience.


Commitment to Quality 

Quality is non-negotiable for businesses that aim to stand the test of time. Whether it’s the quality of products, services, or customer experiences, you must prioritize excellence in everything you do, especially as a black-owned business. There are still those who think women and minority-led firms are inferior.  When you operate in excellence, it not only builds trust and credibility but also fosters customer loyalty and satisfaction. If you consistently deliver superior quality, you are more likely to retain customers, attract new ones, and build a reputation for excellence that will endure over the years.


Failure is an Event, Not a Person

I have fallen down many times in my business, but I always got up. Sometimes, it’s about who gets up the fastest. Failure from time to time is inevitable, as there are so many aspects to running a small business successfully. Do your best to shake off blunders quickly. A failed contract does not make you a failure as a person. Having to lay off employees is sad, but it doesn’t make you a failure. Not being able to pay your bill is tough, but it doesn’t make you a failure. That just means you need to work to phones to get a new opportunity.


Cultivate a Strong Company Culture 

Company culture plays a pivotal role in shaping the identity, values, and behavior of a small business. Cultivating a positive and supportive company culture is essential for attracting and retaining top talent, fostering teamwork and collaboration, and creating a cohesive and engaged workforce. Small businesses that prioritize culture-building initiatives, such as employee recognition programs, team-building activities, and open communication channels, tend to enjoy higher levels of employee satisfaction, productivity, and retention—factors that contribute to long-term success.


Invest in Professional Development 

You must grow yourself to grow your business. As a small business owner, you must adapt and evolve along with it. Continuous learning and improvement are essential for staying competitive and relevant in the long run. This means investing in ongoing training and development for yourself and your employees; you need leadership training and best practices and being open to feedback and new ideas. Small businesses that prioritize learning and innovation are better positioned to anticipate change, seize opportunities, and sustain growth over the years.


Have a Healthy Definition of Success

Early on in business, I measured our success purely on revenue, and I was miserable. I put a ton of pressure on myself and my team, nearly to the point of being a relentless tyrant. As an older, wiser CEO, I have come to learn that influence and impact are far more valuable than money. Maintaining a multi-million-dollar network is valuable. Your network is your net worth.  Investing in mentoring and growing my team and other women in business gives me great joy and has created incredible opportunities for me. Now, don’t misunderstand this: You need to set monthly revenue goals, and I believe that profit is how we keep score in business, but you must love the work and the people, or it’s a waste of time. 


Love something other than your business. 

I’ve seen a lot of business owners grow big businesses and leave a wake of bad marriages and broken children in their wake. What does it benefit a man to gain the world and lose his soul? It doesn’t. Treat your family like your #1 customer. Prioritize them. I am a professional single mom. I got divorced about 12 years into my business. It was very hard for me. I lived in a city where I had no family. I had to pay for all the help I had with my son, and I had to travel to see clients.  My son and I developed a system. If it was an A event, I had to be there. B- events: I tried my best to be there, and C-events were optional. My son set the scale. We also had amazing birthdays and lots of special vacations. He’s headed to college this fall, majoring in computer science, so I believe I did something right. I definitely had mom guilt. He was absolutely picked up late from daycare at times and ate drive-thru chicken fingers and fries too much, but we survived it. 


Get a hobby.

About 10 years ago, I took up golf because I needed to get a life.  I had become a raging workaholic, and I just wasn’t good. A mentor of mine suggested I take a few golf lessons, and I loved them, I especially liked the fresh air and the cute clothes. I actually joined a ladies 9-hole league for a few years. My point is you need an outlet. All work, just isn’t good. It’s not a life.


Thriving in business for twenty-five years is a milestone that I’m grateful that God allowed me to see. It requires a combination of faith, vision, adaptability, customer focus, innovation, and a commitment to excellence to make it this far. You also need to do things that feed your soul, too. By prioritizing these key principles and practices, you can not only weather the challenges of business but also emerge more resilient and successful than ever before. Here’s to the next twenty-five years of growth, innovation, and prosperity!


The post How to Thrive as a Small Business for 25+ Years appeared first on Succeed As Your Own Boss.


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