20 Pieces of Sage Advice from Super-Successful Local Businesses

When you’re running a small business — or thinking about starting one — things can get overwhelming. It’s often helpful to hear advice from people who have gone through it all and are now knocking it out of the park. We talked to six different entrepreneurs, each of whom helped to build thriving local businesses from the ground up, to get their top pieces of advice for what they learned along the way. Whether you are starting a restaurant or opening up a retail store,you can apply some of their succesful tactics and humble advice to your business. Here’s what they had to say:

“Never lose track of quality, especially as your brand grows. We make every cup of coffee one cup at a time. It’s more labor intensive, and might not make sense, but we never want to sacrifice quality. Every cup should be perfect.” —Young Han, the head of community outreach at Philz Coffee

“I don’t chase the money, I chase making the best pies, and delivering the best experience. If I do all those other things right, the money will come.” —Tod Wilson, owner of Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory in New Jersey

“Make a difference in your neighborhood by giving it something special it doesn’t have yet.” —Melanie Porter, owner of Lavender & Honey Espresso in Pasadena, California

Melanie Porter, owner of Lavender & Honey Espresso

“Don’t let your ego get in the way. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know something.” —Karen Moran, owner of Sweet Lulu’s Bakery on Wheels in Charleston, South Carolina

“It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. You only have one chance to do it right. If people have one bad experience with your beer, odds are they’ll never try it again.” —Jonathan Baker, founder of Monday Night Brewing in Austin, Texas

“It’s important to stay small and local even as you grow, so never forget why you started out. Always circle back to that. Stay true to your core.” —Young Han, the head of community outreach at Philz Coffee

“Be confident in yourself and in your idea. That will help you to make decisions on your feet.” —Melanie Porter, owner of Lavender & Honey Espresso in Pasadena, California

Tod Wilson of Mr. Tod's Pie Factory

“When you work for yourself, you have to be comfortable being uncomfortable.” —Tod Wilson, owner of Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory in New Jersey

“A lot of businesses get stuck in the ‘sell, sell, sell’ mentality, especially when it comes to marketing. People want to know the person behind the brand. They’ll be more invested in you.” —Karen Moran, owner of Sweet Lulu’s Bakery on Wheels in Charleston, South Carolina

“You need your employees and they need you. Treat them well and they will return the favor tenfold.” —Melanie Porter, owner of Lavender & Honey Espresso in Pasadena, California

“When you’re in charge and have employees, it’s not your job to freak out anymore. It’s your job to be the calm one and work through it.” —Jonathan Baker, founder of Monday Night Brewing in Austin, Texas

Woody Lovell of The Barbership Club.

“Do something you are passionate about. Something that makes you happy even though you might not make any money. Do that, and provide a good service, and you will grow.”” —Woody Lovell, owner The Barbershop Club in Los Angeles

“Sometimes you just have to walk one more block. Because if you can walk one more, the breakthrough is right there. Often times we get to mid-block and think, ‘I can’t do this,’ but you can. That’s what gets most people. It’s going to hurt a little, but you just have to keep going, one step in front of the other.” —Tod Wilson, owner of Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory in New Jersey

“Learn to love numbers and know how to interpret them.” —Melanie Porter, owner of Lavender & Honey Espresso in Pasadena, California

“Focus on one customer at a time. Build relationships and rapport with your regulars. It’s all about human interaction and connections.” —Young Han, the head of community outreach at Philz Coffee

Josie Lee of RIRE boutique

“Invest in quality things you need for your business instead of trying to save a couple of dollars. You’ll end up having to re-buy things and spend more money in the long run.” —Josie Lee, owner of RIRE boutique in Sacramento, California

“I’m a big proponent of sports and what it teaches you. My high school football coach taught us how to not give up — to keep fighting. Every time I find myself in a tough position, I think about that. You have to just get up after you get knocked down. Whether it’s a product recall, not getting an order in, or losing a new hire, you have to be able to bounce back.” —Tod Wilson, owner of Mr. Tod’s Pie Factory in New Jersey

“Co-opetition: work with other businesses. Even though it’s the competition, community building is important.” —Josie Lee, owner of RIRE boutique in Sacramento, California

“Don’t beat yourself up when things don’t go the way you planned.” —Karen Moran, owner of Sweet Lulu’s Bakery on Wheels in Charleston, South Carolina

“Support other local businesses. The more successful mom-and-pop businesses we have, the better our neighborhoods.” —Young Han, the head of community outreach at Philz Coffee

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