4 Mantras For Small Business Owners To Follow

As a small business owner, I’m always looking for lessons or mantras that I can hold on to. Little nuggets that I can use to guide my decision making help keep me on the right path during difficult times. Over the past two years, I’ve come up with four mantras that I think any small business owner would do well to follow. I’ll share them below. Let me know if you agree or, perhaps, what your own mantras are for your business or your brand.

1. Stay Social

Yes, I know you have a million things to do today, but try to make at least one of those things to get on Twitter and start talking to people. Or to create a new FourSquare or Groupon promotion for your business. As a small business owner, you need to be on the lookout for ways to integrate social media into your day-to-day activities. Think of how you can use these new platforms to build upon the experience you’re already creating elsewhere. Social media is powerful for medium- and large-sized companies, but I really believe it’s even more powerful for small businesses. It’s about storytelling and connecting to people on a human level. This is what SMBs have been surviving on for years. Now you can do it grand-scale and for free. Stay social.

2. Stay Quick

It’s easy to become intimidated as a small business owner. You hear you need to start a blog and you start thinking about the content, worrying about who’s going to build it, who will maintain it, who will market it, etc. You immediately get into that snowball of worrying about everything that will go into that blog. And while that’s important to think about, it can also derail momentum. Start small and stay quick. Instead of worrying about the beast that WordPress can be, get yourself something more lightweight – like a Tumblr account. Instead of worrying about all the camera equipment you’ll need to produce those online videos, get a Flip video camera and upload it straight to YouTube. Sometimes picking the lightweight solution allows you to skip the hassle and get right into the meat of creation. That’s where you want to be. Nimble.

3. Stay Small

I write a lot over at my company blog about the importance of thinking small and keeping that startup mentality. The one that paints you as the scrappy underdog who needs to outwit his competition by being fearless, trying new things, and really focusing on building relationships with your customers. That’s how you become successful when you’re small and it’s something businesses forget (or just plain ignore) as they become larger. But don’t let that happen to you. Stay small and stay in the business of servicing people and making every touch point you create count.

4. Stay Open

Do your best to remain transparent with your customer base. Introduce them to your staff, let them know what you’re working on, be honest when you goof up, and do what you can to bring them into your organization and show them what you’re about. Again, this is something we’re typically really good about when we’re small, but forget to keep doing as we grow. Social media has shown us a lot. But one thing in particular is that customers like feeling connected to the businesses that they support. And they connect through the stories we tell, the information we share, and by how we reach out to their community. Don’t lose sight of that.

Those are four mantras I’ve tried to hold on to as a small business owner. What words do you live and run your business by?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

16 Reactions
  1. In regards to #2, Stay Quick, I think that your egg-timer approach would work great. As a small business owner, give yourself 30 minutes to put a post up on your blog or 30 minutes to record a video tour of your store and post it. Keep it simple, but as Seth Godin would say, LAUNCH!

  2. I think that #2 is the main reason small businesses have trouble adopting new technology. Usually small businesses are stretched thin and many employees wear a multitude of

  3. I love #3, Lisa.

    Be nimble..be quick…

    You know the rest.

    Going against the big boys and girls is a heckuva lot easier now. because of blogs, Twitter, and FB.

    Good post.

    The Franchise King®

  4. As a business owner, I would add two things: Stay Simple and Stay Focused. When you wear many hats, it gets to be a daily challenged to focus on what is most important. Focusing on what is simple can be very difficult. Great post! Thanks for starting the conversation.

  5. Great post… Number 4 is really the main idea for companies that are just starting… We should really practice things like this… Very helpful information…

  6. Hi Lisa,

    I really liked all the points you’ve mentioned especially # 1, I personally believe that the only way your business will expand is when more and more people become aware of it, no matter how good your products/services are, if you don’t reach out, people would never know how good or professional you are. You and your readership may find this article an interesting read, it highlights 12 business skills that one needs to master:


    Riya Sam

  7. Hi Lisa, in response to point #1 Stay Social – I agree with you but I think it’s important for small businesses to reign in their use of social media platforms a bit and just concentrate on the one or two that work best.

    I work a lot with small business owners in the UK and many of them feel obliged to try out every new social platform that launches and end up spending too much time learning how to use these rather than focusing on running their businesses.

  8. Lisa, great post. The one I’d add is Stay Focused. Too many businesses (small and large) try to be all things to all people. If you want to be successful you need to profile the ideal customer (or three) and focus your efforts applying your items 1 – 4 against those segments.

  9. I agree with you Lisa, in my honest opinion the most important mantra is the third one “Stay Small”. i am saying this becuase i also started very small and till the time i was ‘staying’ small, my business grew.. after few years i had this feeling somewhere that the fire is definitely missing. so whenever complacency or fatigue troubles me, i go back to the initial days of my working and trust me it really works!

  10. Shannon Steffen | Milwaukee SEO

    Wonderful, Lisa! It’s all about building and maintaining those relationships with our clients that equals success for our businesses. Today, people want to make sure they know exactly where their money is going and need to know you (the real company) before parting with their hard earned dollars. Following each of the mantras you have so creatively set forth in this post is exactly the foundation small business owners, and entrepreneurs, need to follow!

  11. Great post … Live your Pptoch towers personal relationship for smbs.

    For point 1 – as you know , it take time to build personal relationship with a member on twitte, if an smb has only 30 min a day to do it, do you think roi can be generated from it to drive the smb business’s goals ?


  12. All are great points…# 3 resonated with me because my goal is to grow my business — but you point out that being scrappy is what has made us successful to begin with. Sticking with the mentality of building relationships and working smart is fundamental. Thanks for sharing your mantras!

  13. Patricia McGuinness

    The first two really resonated with me. I struggle with dividing my time between servicing my customers, keeping my website up to date, and carving out personal time. When I don’t do it well, I inevitably crash and burn and end up getting further behind. Keeping it simple, and the tasks manageable, is essential.

  14. In some cases I seem like I’m arguing, when I’m really not. I just use a way of setting my writes tougher than meant. It’s much better to keep out of the conversation and not bring the chance of being misunderstood.