Home > Learning Center > Business Resource Center > Tips for entrepreneurs and small-business owners
  • Tips for entrepreneurs and small-business owners

    The U.S. Small Business Administration recently held its National Small Business Week from June 17 through 21, with events in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C.

    Avoid responding to internet criticism of your business.While the events have come and gone, small businesses can still learn from the informative gatherings that were designed to help small businesses start and succeed.

    Steve Case, a co-founder of AOL, a founder of the investment firm Revolution and chairman of the Startup America Partnership, believes that National Small Business Week is a solid way to captivate entrepreneurs away from the typical startup areas like Silicon Valley.

    "The story of America is really the story of small businesses and entrepreneurs all across the country," Case told USA TODAY. "And sometimes they don't get as much attention as they should in the press (and) they don't get as much attention from investors."

    Here are a few tips for startups and small companies to consider.

    1. Constant communication. While consistent relationships among employees is important to all businesses - both in small companies and gigantic corporations - constant communication is especially vital for businesses just starting out.

      A co-founder of Twitter and Square, Jack Dorsey, recommends that entrepreneurs should not undervalue the importance of communication within the ranks of a company. Dorsey admitted that when Twitter was first starting and building a strong base, it crashed time and again because its operations and engineering staffs "weren't talking enough," Dorsey said in a panel at the National Small Business Week's Washington, D.C., event, according to USA TODAY.

      "It became a communications issue, which is funny because we were building a communications company," Dorsey added.

      Dorsey said that he spends the same amount of time creating the organization of Twitter as he does designing the product. He believes business owners should simplify communications as much as they can in their organization.

    2. Avoid responding to Internet criticism. With Facebook, Yelp, Twitter and other social media tools, customers - especially angered or annoyed ones - seem to have a louder voice than ever.

      Angie's List recommends that small-business owners avoid responding to any negative feedback, because it's likely to cause more harm than the initial negative consumer review.

      "Go and get a cup of coffee after you read the review," Angie Hicks, co-founder of Angie's List, said at an event on June 21. "Do not type anything. If you want to, go yell at someone else in the office about it, but do not type anything."

      Why should a small business not respond to negative feedback? Take a look at Amy's Baking Company in Scottsdale, Ariz.

      The restaurant's husband-and-wife owners, Amy and Salomon Bouzaglo, were chastised on Facebook, Yelp and other review websites after they were booted from chef Gordon Ramsey's reality show, Kitchen Nightmares.

      Instead of ignoring the Internet bombardment, the couple sent back obscene barbs, which only provoked greater criticism and damage. BuzzFeed called it "the most epic brand meltdown on Facebook ever," and the pair ultimately claimed their Facebook page had been hacked.

    3. Hall of fame advice. Fran Tarkenton, a Hall of Fame quarterback who played with the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, has started more than 20 businesses since retiring from the NFL. At National Small Business Week, he implored small businesses and entrepreneurs to find a sense of desperation when looking for additional motivation.

      As a sophomore backup at the University of Georgia, Tarkenton ran onto the field to replace the starter who had sat down between possessions. He lead the team on a scoring drive, throwing a touchdown pass to take a one-point lead and catalyze his career.

      "Never sit on the bench," he said.