Five tips for small business owners trying to beat the odds

The entrepreneurial spirit of this country amazes me, especially as A. Bright Idea reflects on 25 years in business. The women entrepreneurs who came before me, in many ways, helped me and this agency reach this milestone.

At age 26, I launched A. Bright Idea without any expectation it would last a quarter century. After all, longevity eludes most small businesses. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 25% of new businesses make it to their 15-year anniversary.

In our formative years, quite a few people were instrumental, offering their support or guidance on building this company. People like Micky Morales, George Heidelmaier, Beth Cohen, Tina Ripken and Jack Novak were some of my earliest friends and mentors. Many of them have retired and some of them have passed but they provided me invaluable wisdom on how to beat the odds as a small business — and a woman-owned small business at that.

I am not the first woman to start a business and succeed, and I can say, with all confidence, I won’t be the last. The U.S. Census Bureau recently reported the number of American woman-owned small businesses rose by 2.8% to over 1.1 million. That trend surely continues or may well accelerate as time goes on. I’m honored to be in a position to pay forward the wisdom I received to help them succeed.

As part of our Silver & Shine anniversary celebrations, I wanted to share some the lessons others taught me and that have worked well for A. Bright Idea over these past 25 years. Whether you’re a women-owned small business or not, I have a few thoughts for those of you on a similar journey.

First and foremost, build a network of resources. You don’t need to have all the answers, but have relationships with vendors, colleagues and friends that can point you in the right direction. Most of the relationships you build usually happen intentionally, but some of the best ones often occur accidentally. Take the time to get to know people in social and business settings and invite serendipity.

When it comes to client or customer relations, find a way to say ‘yes.’ Meaning, remain flexible because clients stay or return because of customer service.

Next, little is possible without good, talented people on your team. Focus on hiring the right people for the right jobs and treat them with care and respect. Success happens as a result of collective effort.

Set out creating a strong culture. Whether you act as a sole proprietor or have one or more employees, your company culture serves as a conduit between your brand and your clients and can help boost productivity.

Lastly, but far from least, focus on making sure your branding hits the mark. Yes, A. Bright Idea is a creative agency, so branding is our bread and butter, but I cannot stress the importance of this aspect of building your business enough. Make it a priority to seek a consultant, if your resources allow.

While I could write volumes about the company I poured my heart and soul into for half my life, I want to hear from you. What challenges do you face? How can my and my team’s experiences help you? Reach out to us at