April 2013 Web Extra: Back to school

April 11, 2013 -  By

10 tips from student business owners featured in our April cover story

  1. Persevere, be afraid to quit, have a willingness to work hard and continuously focus on the dollars and cents.”—Craig Ruppert, CEO and founder of Ruppert Landscape, Laytonsville, Md.
  2. “First of all, be a man of your word. That sums it all up. If you make a promise to yourself, to your customers, do it. That’s helped me more than anything.”—Wesley Chiles, owner of Chiles Enterprises, Louisa, Va.
  3. “You have to have people who can think on their feet a little bit. I want my workers to think about how they can be more efficient on their own—not from reading from a handbook. I don’t want robots. I want people who can actually engage and think.”— BJ Flora, owner of Cut Above Enterprises, Taylors, S.C.
  4.  “You have to continue learning. You’ve got to get involved with the new technology and the new systems that are coming along. You have to continually improve or the new guys will have an advantage. If I don’t know how to do something, my motto is ‘Bring on people who do and ask a lot of questions of people who have been in the industry longer than I have.’”—AJ Davis, owner of Davis Outdoor Jobs, Apalachin, N.Y.
  5.  “I always did the best work I possibly could, whether it was profitable or not. My neighbors noticed, and many have become my customers. Treat ‘em right and be as transparent as you can and they return the favor by telling their friends and neighbors.”—Michael Field, owner/operator at Premium Properties, Spicer, Minn.
  6.   “You keep doing things because you love them.”—Tim Rowe, owner of Tim’s Landscape Care, Cherry Hill, N.J.
  7.  “You have to have a business plan. You have to have something to follow, and if you’re going to make it your profession you should get all the legalities of it figured out in the beginning. Our industry has been thought of as kind of redneck, so you have to be professional and bring our industry up to where people know we are professional.”—Matt Turner, owner of Turner Landscaping, St. Paris, Ohio
  8.  The larger we get, the more important it becomes to remain focused on the company culture, particularly as it applies to our most valuable asset, our people.”—Craig Ruppert
  9.  “I thought, ‘Oh, no one can do things as good as me.’ What I had to learn was, I can’t do everything. I had to learn how to delegate to my staff members and train them so that my business can grow. I have developed a good team of people and try to utilize their gifts as much as possible.”—Wesley Chiles
  10.  “It’s typically a better idea to get your experience through other companies first and make your mistakes working for them before you make them working for yourself. I think it’s a really great idea to work for a handful of companies that are the best at what they do, gather up a bunch of experience, and then start your own business.”—Michael Field


About the Author:

Geraci is a freelance writer based in Cleveland. She has worked as a professional journalist for more than 15 years, including six years as a writer for the Chicago Tribune. A graduate of Allegheny College and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Geraci began her career as an editor at a newswire service in Washington, D.C., where she edited and distributed press releases from the White House and congressional leaders. She went on to become the community news reporter at the Jackson Hole Guide newspaper, winning two national feature writing awards. Her other experience includes working as a book editor in Chicago and as a professor of business communications at Cleveland State University.

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