Misty Young is a small business owner who has rapidly evolved into an advisor, author, gratitude evangelist, and expert in building small businesses by the numbers and the heart. Her successful Nevada diner chain, Squeeze In, even attracted the attention the New York Times, which praised the restaurant in September 2012 for its social media efforts and smartphone app. As Misty has shown, the whole purpose of what we do in small business is to serve. Here’s what else she had to say:
BH: What’s the most common mistake small businesses make when running or growing their business?
MY: Most small businesses these days aren’t focused on leadership. Most of us think the thing that we have to be focused on is making money. But we have to be focused at the beginning on leadership; about growing ourselves and our businesses, and our associates and holding everyone accountable to such growth every single day.
My belief is very strong in that a company that is growing forward will be going forward; that in order to attract good quality people to us we have to become good quality people ourselves. I think leadership is critical. I think we’ll begin to see a much stronger focus on that as time moves forward and I think as people really understand that everything is available in the digital world, including for personal growth and development, and how important it is to the success of small businesses, it will continue to grow in terms of its importance to small business.
BH: How important is efficiency to a business and what does it look like?
MY: It doesn’t matter if you are in the restaurant business, the mail business, auto care, dog grooming centers, hotels – it doesn’t matter. We are all 100% in the same business and that business is numbers.
Efficiency is crucial to any business. Small business or large business, it’s the same thing. Efficiency is all about what are the measureable tools and what are the measureable numbers that we can be looking at in our businesses. Whether it’s food, or heads on beds, or the number of dogs we’ve groomed in a day – everything comes back to efficiency – whether we are meeting our quotas, we’re meeting our sales goals and targets, or whether we’re able to keep our doors open because we are making our prime costs.
Prime costs in the restaurant business are the combination of your cost-of-goods-sold and your labor. If your prime costs are out of control, you’re out of business. That’s just the way it is. Every business has its own prime costs. Prime costs are a measure of your efficiency – and efficiency decides whether or not you’re going to stay in business. It is the most important thing in a business.
“You’ve got to measure everything. You know, what gets measured, gets managed.”
More importantly, gets measured and reported, gets managed even better. It does work if you’re just keeping numbers and just throwing them in a spreadsheet and putting it on a desktop somewhere or dropping them off in a drawer. When you actually measure, and then report it to department heads, or to your business partners, all of a sudden everyone’s interested. All eyes on us, means you are going to do a better job to look good. Efficiency helps us.
BH: What was the best advice you ever gave a small business owner?
MY: Hire slow, and fire fast.
Take your time to get the right people on the bus. The bus driver‘s going to take it wherever it’s going to go. But if you don’t have the right people on the bus, you can’t do the right things for your business. And, once you do realize you have the wrong person on the bus, all you do is hemorrhage until you let that person go. So, standing around hemming and hawing, feeling guilty, you’ve got to stop and realize your business will suffer until you have the right people on the bus. Your goal is to never have to fire anyone.
BH: How can small businesses successfully integrate offline and online business activities to drive performance?
MY: The number one most important tool in any business is a database. Businesses have to have their clients, customers or patients opting in to receive information from the business. In fact, in our business, we do zero traditional advertising or marketing. When I say zero I meant there is no TV, radio, newspaper advertising. We do everything on an opt-in basis.
So we ask people, will you give us your address, phone number, email, your anniversary date, birthdate. Then we ask – and may we market to you? And what do we do? We send them postcards, letters, emails. We reach out to them both physically and digitally, but we do so with their permission. Our goal is to become a welcomed guest and not an annoying pest in their mailbox and inbox.
BH: Complete this sentence: Six years from now, in 2020, I believe that…
MY: The successful small businesses will stand out from the crowd having excellent marketing, excellent customer service, always standing on a firm foundation of operations and financials, and making sure that they’re adding value to their clients, guests, customers or patients in every way they can.
BH: Your best advice in 5 words?
MY: Attract success through love & gratitude.
Check out the rest of our SBW2014 series here.
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