Following is “ONE PIECE OF ADVICE” from 11 of Americas top small business owners.  This might be a great list to file away in a drawer ready to be retrieved for a little encouragement and challenge.  Wishing you a successful month.

John Stonecipher, President and CEO of Guidance Aviation Inc.  “Surround yourself around the best people you can and give them an opportunity to do what they love to do best. Each one of my staff and faculty are leaders themselves. I cannot succeed without them.”

Charles Hammond, President and CEO, Raining Rose Inc.  “Try to find a mentor if possible. I was incredibly fortunate to have had Art Christoffersen as my business partner … He was a great sounding board and really never told me what to do, but he asked some great questions that led me to the answer.”

Chris Runyan, President GameXChange  “The advice I’d give is to make as many mistakes as you can, as fast as you can. Get them out of the way. No one hits home runs right away.”

Noah Thomas Leask, President and CEO of ISHPI  “Do not underestimate the amount of effort, perseverance, and discipline that is required to be successful. I cannot stress that enough. There will be problems and you must be ready mentally, physically, and spiritually to deal with them. If you are starting a business to get rich and work less, then you are on the wrong path. One should be working on enjoying the journey not thinking about the destination. The riches-seekers never reach it.”

Ellen Didier, President Red Sage Communications  “Be collaborative with your staff, your customers, and your vendors or suppliers. The more you trust the team knowledge and wisdom of those around you, the more quickly you can recognize and adapt to changes, provide better products or services, and the stronger your organization will be.”

Mike Sawyers, President 7Delta  “It’s about long-term relationships and treating your customers right. Do what’s right for them long-term. Once you win the business, that’s when the hard work begins. … It’s all about relationships and reputation.”

Regina Broudy, President Clayton Kendall  “Look at every interaction as a networking opportunity. You never know when a business opportunity will present itself. A chance encounter could be a big break for your company..  “Our employees, honestly, they take such an interest, like it’s their company. We treat them like family, we give them great benefits.   That’s very important because if they’re not really part of your team, it doesn’t work. They’re excited when good things happen. We started with nine people, now we have 65. There are so many little details that we can do for the customer to make things go well for them.

Jason Cohen, President ILM Corporation  “It comes from your mother. And she says when you tell somebody you’re going to do something, do it. That’s it. And it still rings true today … I find in business today people tell you a lot of things and then they don’t follow through with it whether it be employees, vendors, customers or prospects, whomever, it’s very frustrating.”

Aaron Rodolph, President, Rodolph Brothers Inc.  “Hire an industry-specific consultant. Then hire a business systems consultant (like Emyth Benchmark). Then hire a marketing firm to help you market your business. Don’t reinvent the wheel, buy some advice and let the marketing firm do what you will never have time to do. Then you can just focus on what you love — running your business.”

Tom Nieman, Owner, Fromm Family Foods  “First, you have to be passionate about your business because having your own business is not a job it is a way of life. Second, create (and articulate) your vision for the business and then be relentless in executing your go-to-market strategies and tactics. A solid plan is important; hard work and execution are critical.”

Tom J. Loftus, President, Founder and CEO, LS Technologies LLC   “Growing a business is about taking risks in a competitive environment, while continuing to build and maintain a solid reputation that your company delivers the utmost customer service. And very importantly, any business owners should strive to surround themselves with trustworthy, reliable people who support their company’s mission and values.”