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Rules to Live By as a Small Business Owner

Intro by Skip Cohen

The fun of so much of the wisdom Sarah Petty shares goes well beyond photography. In fact, today’s post applies to ANY small business. Your strategy for going beyond surviving and thriving is dependent on consistently exceeding client expectations and making yourself habit-forming!

All of you have dreams of growing, profitability, and most important of all being happy in your career choice. To achieve those dreams, you need consistency in your approach to building your business and skill set.

I love Sarah’s approach as she reminds us all to focus on our brand, growth, and profit. In fact, for my own benefit, I just printed out this post and have it taped on the wall at my desk! She’s provided the perfect set of reminders to help stay focused on more than just your subjects when there’s a camera in your hands!

By Sarah Petty

To stay on top, your small business has to grow and mature; it has to remain consistent and reliable while continuously surprising customers and exceeding their expectations. That doesn’t mean you need to focus on franchising, add a ton of overhead, and become a big discounter yourself. It doesn’t even mean you have to expand your client base. But you do need to stay vigilant, exercise sound judgments, and grow as a small business.

Here are a few small business strategies that will help you along the way.

  1. Find the next level and move up. If you’re going to grow, you can’t be content with the same old products and services.
  2. Stay hyper-focused. Successful boutique businesses don’t assume they can be all things to all people and are at ease saying they’re not the right fit for some. Your job is to grow—your customer base, your product line, your level of service, and your quality levels—within a very narrow focus. Ask yourself three simple questions when considering an idea.

Does it fit my brand?

Does the idea help my business grow, or does it just spread me thinner?

Does it allow me to maintain my profit margins?

  1. Prepare for risk. As a boutique business, you only play to be the best. And that takes some calculated risks. Your customers expect you to try the extraordinary. They want you to discover or invent the newest, coolest, hardest-to-find, and most-difficult-to-copy items and services.
  2. Find a mentor. There is wisdom out there that you can possess today simply by reaching for it (and investing in it). Look for the people who successfully do what you want to do and who have used your business model to get where you want to be.