The best business advice you’ve ever received

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Words of wisdom can come from anywhere—a mentor, a friend, a meme shared on an acquaintance’s Facebook page. (The first two probably carry more weight, in the end). The best advice usually comes from someone we trust at a time when we’re best ready to hear and heed it. Here’s some of the best advice some local business owners have heard over the years:

Build a solid network
“I feel like there are a lot of challenges in running your own business and think they can be compounded when you’re doing it alone. The network you build can act as your partner when it comes to bouncing ideas off of someone or getting advice. In Portland, we are super lucky to have a large but tight-knit community of food Industry professionals. I’ve found that most of them want others to succeed and are extremely generous with their time and knowledge. I’ve learned a lot from some of these people and truly believe East End Cupcakes would not have been in business for six years without their generosity of spirit.”
—Alysia Zoidis, owner, East End Cupcakes

If you build it, they will come
“This bit of advice hits many aspects of my life—building habitats for wildlife, my absolute love and fascination with nature…I planted native plants and the insects came, the birds came. I planted trees and shrubs and the babies have come, nests a plenty! But it also pertains to my adventure company. If you build a creative adventure to bring people together with yoga and the outdoors, and add in a lovely beverage and healthy food and perhaps sneak in a challenge or two, they will come.”
—Holly Twining, founder, Maine Yoga Adventures

Don’t look side to side and compare yourself to others. Keep your focus centered on your own goals and celebrate your ‘wins’
“When you’re first starting out, it’s easy to get down comparing your work to others in your field and lose confidence. But we’re all on our own path and the only progress that matters is our own.”
—Suzi Pond, founder/owner, Redbird Media Group and revel + spark

Running a business is going to give you some of the best and worst days of your life
“A very close friend (who also owns a business) told me early on that ‘running a business is going to give you some of the best and worst days of your life.’ It turns out, it’s really quite true. You put your heart and soul into your business. So when things are going well, you can feel elated. And when they are not going so well, it can physically hurt. Keeping this understanding in mind has helped me put things in perspective many, many times.”
—Heather Chandler, owner, The SunriseGuide and Green & Healthy Maine magazines

Is it the truth? Will it be beneficial?
“I think the best business advice I’ve received is to follow the Rotary Four-Way Test. Of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the truth? 2. Is it fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build goodwill and better friendships? 4. Will it be beneficial to all concerned?”
—Catherine Wygant Fossett, executive director, Institute for Family-Owned Business

Know your customer
“Know your customer and know your market so you can negotiate for what you and your customer both need.”
—Karina Napier, Maine Women Magazine advisory board member

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