• Darin Vilano

The Secret to Staying in Business for Over 30 Years | Inside My Business

In this episode, I get to do one of my favorite things, which is visit my mom.  While giving me a haircut, she provides some timeless advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs.  After being in business for over 30 years (and working in her profession for 50 years), she has certainly figured out what it takes to thrive over the long-term.

My mom’s hair salon is in a small town right smack in the middle of the Rust Belt.  Just like most small towns, it’s a place where news travels fast and everyone knows what you’re up to.  People are friendly and willing to give you a fair shake, but a mistake here can very quickly cost you your reputation.  In this environment, where the economy has been brutal over the last 40 years, she’s built a business that has stood the test of time.  Many shops and stores that were once mainstays of the community have since come and gone.

During our conversation, she shares her secret to building a successful small business, which is this:  The most important thing is truly caring about the people you serve.  This is probably the one lesson from my mom that’s had the biggest impact on me.  Because, it’s not just about caring for people in your business.  It’s about caring for people in all areas of life.  I watched my mom for many, many years growing up – how she interacted with people in her shop and how she interacted with them in everyday life.  And, what I saw was a person who was always willing to give – never because she wanted something in return or expected anything – but, merely because she loved to help others and wanted to make them feel good.

I believe that’s the most powerful lesson here.  There are endless strategies and tactics that business owners can employ.  There’s a lot of talk of hacking and disruption and competition.  And, there’s plenty lip service paid to customer service.  But, nothing can take the place of actually caring about people.  I’m talking about real, genuine caring without pretense, expectation or reciprocation.  Get that right and you go a long way toward building your own 30-year company.

Small businesses have an amazing opportunity to really bring the human factor to life for their customers.  In which ways have you demonstrated authentic, heart-centered caring in your business?  Or, how have you experienced it as a customer?

Remember, as small business owners and entrepreneurs, one of the best ways that we learn is from each other, so please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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