20 Pieces of Advice From Running a Business in 2020

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It has been a remarkably difficult year for running a business. Almost 100,000 businesses have permanently closed. But, it has also been a year of ingenuity and resilience.

Over the last 12 months, we’ve asked dozens of founders, operators, and CEOs how they’ve handled big challenges — from halted supply chains to complete brand relaunches. Here are 20 of our favorite pieces of advice from 2020.

  1. From Bob’s Red Mill Chairman Bob Moore: Compassion for should always come first. “People are everything. I think you have to put people above money, even though money’s very important and you have to have money to keep your people.”
  2. From Lumi CEO Jesse Genet: Never rest on your laurels. “You really need to keep taking new risks.”
  3. From Slice CEO Ilir Sela: Hiring the right people should be your №1 priority. “What matters is your team and the people that are in that fight with you. Recruiting and nurturing relationships with your team; there’s nothing more important.”
  4. From Burrow CEO Stephen Kuhl: Don’t assume your team can read your mind. “Clearly articulate your strategy to the whole company, and repeat it over, and over again.”
  5. From Poolside.FM Founder Marty Bell: Keep things fun at work. “If there’s something stressful going on, try and not bring that to the whole team. Just keep them involved in the fun stuff.”
  6. From Fly By Jing Founder Jing Gao: Do not cut corners in product development. Even when it’s hard. The greatest marketing tool is the product itself. People need to have a reason to talk about it independent of paid ads.”
  7. From Peachy CEO Carolyn Treasure: Think about the short term in tandem with the long term. “Zoom in when needed on the micro-details of the five or six things that have to be done to get one small project across the finish line, but then almost in tandem, zoom out and see the big to-dos that need to be done.”
  8. From BLCK VC Co-founder Sydney Sykes: Supporting diversity can not be just a line in a deck. “You have to walk it and breathe it and live it every day.”
  9. From Sunday CEO Coulter Lewis: Customer service should be core to your product. “The next dimension of e-commerce is expertise, support, and experience.”
  10. From Ipsa Provisions Co-founder Joshua Brau: Use this time to get clear about priorities. “Recognize the opportunity to narrow your focus toward doing fewer things, but doing them really, really well.”
  11. From Scrub Daddy CEO Aaron Krause: Lead by example. “Every day I put my mask on, I put my gloves on, I go out, and I say hi to everyone. I keep six feet away, but I wave, and they know I’m here. I’m here just like they are.”
  12. From Minnidip CEO Emily Vaca: Don’t approach design with a formula. “As trends emerge, brands take that data and try to mimic something that is already working. In order to avoid that, it’s important to find inspiration outside of what you are doing.”
  13. From Healthy Roots Dolls CEO Yelitsa Jean Charles: Take action. Get started. Right now. “If you spend forever working on something and never produce it, someone else is going to do it for you.”
  14. From Hipmunk Co-Founder Adam Goldstein: Be willing to be flexible. “Holding on too tightly to an idea that isn’t yet proven is really dangerous.”
  15. From Táche Founder Roxanna Saidi: Pre-launch pitching is a marathon, not a sprint. “There’s no magic bullet or way to get around it. You have to keep doing what you’re doing, and you have to find investors that align with your mission and vision.”
  16. From Sharma Brands CEO Nik Sharma: Remember, angel investors are worth more than their first check. “They might put in $5,000, but they might be able to introduce you to people with $100 million in their bank account who could write you a check for $100,000 pretty easily.”
  17. From Scrub Daddy CEO Aaron Krause: When you’re ready to act, act quickly. “Once I get the information that I need, I just make the decision and I do it very quickly. That builds a real sense of trust.”
  18. From InDinero CEO Jessica Mah: Invest time in your tax planning strategy. “Taxes are such a great opportunity lever, it can be a strategic advantage for you and your business.”
  19. From Feed.FM Co-Founder Lauren Pufpaf: Give your sales teams some room to maneuver. “It’s really important to be flexible around pricing and pricing models. Sometimes you just need something to get unstuck.”
  20. From Bob’s Red Mill Chairman Bob Moore: Remember to give back. “Be a part of your community. There are always needs. Give of yourself.”