Tips For New Business Owners (What I wish Someone Had Told Me)


Photo Credit Paul Inkles

Photo Credit Paul Inkles

Years ago I embarked on a journey.  I left my comfortable world as a construction foreman and launched out to start my own remodeling company.  The only business I had ever run before was my paper route when I was in middle school.  That hardly constituted experience.  But, I was eager and willing to work hard.  So off I went into the wild blue unknown of business ownership.  
Along the way I have had success and failure, joy and pain, laughter and tears, relaxation and hard work, and reward and loss.  I have made money and lost it.  However, I would not trade this journey.  Every success and failure brings experience.  And experience is the building block of future success.
So here are some tips from my experience that I believe can help those who are getting ready to embark (Or have already left the station) on their own business ownership journey.

  • It’s about the customer not the product – The first mistake I made was making my business about the product (remodeling). I mistakenly thought that if I made a better product, I would be successful.  My background was as a carpenter, so I focused on the work.  But over time, I learned that there are many successful business without a “great” product and many “great” products in failed businesses.  Without customers every business will fail.  You have to focus your energy on taking care of your customers and what they want.  And sometimes, that means changing your product.
  • Learn the numbers – Success and failure in business ultimately boils down to money, and we track that money with numbers.  If you do not understand the numbers that drive your business you will find yourself in trouble even if you are successfully taking care of your customers.  This happened to me a couple years after I launched.  The company grew fast and I did not understand all the numbers. I was not able to stay on top of what what happening.  Therefore, we started losing money right in the middle of our greatest success.  If you don’t understand, the numbers find someone to teach you.
  • Surround yourself with a team – I am not talking about employees.  I am talking about a team of experience and other perspectives to help you make good decisions about your business.  These need to be people that you can be honest with, so that they can give you good feed back.  I suggest putting together an informal “Advisory Team” or joining a mastermind group of other business owners.  Either way, you need a team that you can share with and get feedback from.  Leading a business can be a lonely place.  And, “Lone Rangers” do not make good decisions.
  • Connect with people – Your business success will be correlated to the people you connect with.  These will be employees, clients, trade partners, suppliers, consultants, service providers, friends, family, etc.  You need to spend time investing in these relationships.  Through these connections you will provide leadership (influence).  That leadership will be key to the success of your business.  As I have noted above, you need a lot of other people to be successful.  Take time to care about people, connect with them and really invest in those relationships.
  • You will have successes and failures (Keep Going) – This is part of the journey.  It is easy to get too prideful about your success and become resistant to change.  And, it is also easy to become discouraged about your failures and lose motivation.  Both will keep you from moving forward, and without moving forward your business will begin a slow decline.
  • Have a coach – Every great team, athlete, successful person has a coach (or multiple coaches).  If you want to be successful you need the same thing.  This could be a retired executive through SCORE, a friend or family member, a pastor, or a professional coach that you hire.  However you find a coach, you need one.
  • Be an aggressive learner – There is no way for you to have all the knowledge or experience that you need.  Therefore, you must take responsibility for learning.  Take advantage of business workshops, online webinars, read books, listen to podcasts, talk to other business owners, attend conferences.  But whatever you do, don’t stop learning.
  • Observe and interact – Every day there are subtle things happening that affect your business.  It may be the performance of an employee, the satisfaction of a customer, a changing market condition, or an open door of a new opportunity.  You need to train your eye to observe what others miss.  Then, interact with what you observe and take actions that benefit your business.
  • Accept responsibility – You alone are responsible for your success or failure.  You must own it.  It is too easy to take a victim mindset and blame everyone else for your business success or failure.  If you “can’t find good workers” then grow yourself as a leader and trainer.  If your market is changing then change your products and business.  This means you have to accept responsibility for the good and the bad.  That is not always fun, but you will find yourself empowered and those around you will appreciate your leadership.

What tips do you have for those starting out as business owners?

Share your thoughts in the comments below


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What is Patience?

This is a big question for me.  It is one that is always a challenge for me.  In order to live a balanced, enjoyable healthy life, we must understand patience.  There is a season for everything.  A time to press forward, and a time to wait patiently.  If we are always pressing forward, we will miss opportunities that are right under our nose.  If we are always waiting, we will never take advantage of those opportunities.

As a recovering over driven perfectionist, I have a hard time knowing where the balance is between moving forward confidently and waiting patiently for doors to open.  I know there are times to wait and times to press forward… But how do I know the difference?
Somehow, in the depths of my heart I know that the difference is not so much my actions, but it is an attitude of the heart.  That is where we need to focus.  This attitude will then affect our actions.  But, it has to start with the heart.


What does patience look like? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
  • Peace & Calm – In difficult circumstances is my heart marked by restlessness or peace?
  • Confidence – Insecurity undermines patience.  It is impossible to wait if I don’t have confidence in a good outcome.
  • Trust – Ultimately I have to trust that things will work out for the best and there are opportunities for me.
  • Stillness – This is the opposite of striving… Am I able to practice stillness in my actions, heart and mind.
It takes effort discern the difference between impatience and patience in your life.  Life has seasons of difficulty and challenge.  To live with patience you must embrace the challenge and move forward at the right time.  Today, choose to have a heart filled with peace, calm, confidence, trust and stillness.

How have you come to understand patience in your life?

Share your thoughts in the comments below.

– Brian


Family 2If you are going to hang out around this blog… then I figured you should know a little bit about me.
I grew up in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.  My youth was spent playing in the woods, building forts, playing baseball and participating in the the social circle of our church.
When I was a teenager, I had a life changing encounter with God at Highland Retreat Camp, and I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ.  It was the best decision I ever made.
I met my beautiful bride, Victoria, during my high school years at Eastern Mennonite HS in Harrisonburg, VA.  We are both pretty strong willed and had to “chill out” a little before we started dating after high school.  We were married shortly after in 1996.  We have four amazing daughters (Twins in the middle).  They are teenagers and learning to spread their wings.  I love this season of family life.
I enjoy working with my hands, being outdoors, carpentry projects, gardening and homesteading.  I believe in simple, sustainable living and taking care of the wonderful earth that has been entrusted to us.
I love sports and cheering on my favorite teams…. the Atlanta Braves, Liberty Flames Football, and UVA Cavaliers basketball.
And finally, after all these years in construction, I still like my pick-up truck and power tools.  And, I am most comfortable in my jeans and a baseball cap!
I will share more about my career path in an upcoming post.

  • Brian

So, Who are you?  Introduce yourself in the comment section below.

The dump was very uncomfortable, emotion coming in waves….

The following is a guest post from Matt Schubert.  He spent this past week in Guatemala these are excerpts from his journal.  It is so exciting to see someone living out the destiny by helping others. When we serve others we often find ourselves in uncomfortable situations.  These situations are what stretch us and shape our hearts.
May you be challenged and inspired to serve beyond yourself.
When have you been in a situation that challenged and stretched you personally and emotionally?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.
July 30
Schubert - Guatemala3The dump is difficult to describe. Vultures circle, smoke rises, the ground is hot. Children wander among the trash, just beyond the reach of the flame. An old lady combs through the burning trash – hoping to contribute to the $10 a month her family can earn by finding cans, metal & bottles. The children enjoy playing – but unlike the other villages – there is a gravity to the dump that mutes even the play.
It’s easy to imagine the poor as being unwilling to work. It’s difficult to see people working, harder than I do, just to survive. I have many questions, but remembering the dump is imperative.
I connected with a boy at the dump, he was clearly an athlete and his soccer skills stood out. He wasn’t one of the kids that comes running to you. After proving myself, he allowed me to team w him, even as a gringo. I uttered more Spanish than I had spoken all week when I told him he played well. To my surprise when we returned to the bus he was waiting. Loading the bus I had to get back off to tell him (in broken Spanish) that God loves him. He stood and watched as we boarded, my eyes met his as we left – he waived. I want to remember him and I pray that he will remember that God loves him.
The dump was very uncomfortable, emotion coming in waves. Nearly 2,000 people call this home. I hated seeing the dump – but the faces cried out and it tore at us to leave.
It’s humbling and overwhelming to consider our role as Christ followers. We are called to bring hope to the broken. It’s encouraging to be here and see people rescued & transformed by the power of God’s Word – His Word in action is evident here. God bring healing and hope to this place.
Psalm 35
9 Then my soul will rejoice in the LORD, exulting in his salvation. 10 All my bones shall say, “O LORD, who is like you, delivering the poor from him who is too strong for him, the poor and needy from him who robs him?”
Psalm 9:18
18 For the needy shall not always be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.
August 1st
Schubert - Guatemala2Today we celebrated with the people of Pueblo del Rio. It’s a village of about 400 that has been adopted by our church. The village lines the gentle curve of the river. Children play along the steep and rocky banks as mothers wash clothes.
As far as we walk, we see small children peaking around rusted sheet metal with brown bright eyes, some shining with excitement as they remember past interactions. Others want to be noticed but need to know we are safe. Their homes are made of sticks, rusted sheet metal and plastic bags. However, inside they are frequently well organized albeit simple. The people here are gracious.
Much of the week was spent building a cinder block house, playing and teaching children and moms. Today is noticeably different, we are sharing pizza with the village, giving a motorcycle to the village pastor and delivering live goats and chickens. Today the teenagers and men are present – perhaps a sign that we are building trust.
It makes for good soccer games. At home, we wouldn’t recognize the packed dirt patch as a field, yet here it doesn’t matter. The game is fast and physical, our bodies glisten as we banter back n forth. On the field it hardly matters that we speak different languages, we forget about our differences focused on the game at hand – we are communicating. We laugh, we goad, we encourage, we celebrate. Perhaps this is why soccer is called the most beautiful game.
When the game ends, the men stay, perhaps realizing we aren’t so different. Blank faces now show signs of smiles as the indifference fades. I extend my hand and say simply “God loves you”. But I suspect it’s the warm handshake between players that they remember.
The village pastor exhorts these men to be in church. I’m praying that when we return many of these men will have submitted themselves to Christ. The families of the handful of men currently in Church thrive.
The children here need fathers – father’s everywhere bring stability and economic mobility to communities. Here a Father also represents physical protection. A father enables young teens to find their place at home, not in the local gang.
By the end of the day it is unclear who has blessed who – the simplicity of their lives, a magnifier of gratitude, brings joy to our team. We leave excited to invest further in the village. The progress is a reminder that God is at work and we have been privileged to play a small role in bringing hope.
My prayer for the village and for our team today is that together we could say:
“…I shall sing of Thy strength; yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy loving kindness in the morning, for Thou hast been my stronghold, and a refuge in the day of my distress. Oh my strength, I will sing praises to Thee; for God is my stronghold, the God who shows me loving kindness.” Psalm 60:16-17

Welcome to my Blog!

Hello, my name is Brian Mininger and I love helping people. I am a former pastor and entrepreneur. I always have more ideas and dreams than I have time.  I am a recovering over-driven, task oriented, perfectionist individual, learning to embrace relationships, enjoy life and live within healthy limits.  I love fulfilling my God given destiny by encouraging and helping ordinary people fulfill their own destiny.

What to expect from this blog

I have a lot of different interests and experiences.  They are as varied as farming and construction (my former career) to career development, entrepreneurship and marketing.  I have attempted different blogs and websites along those different interests, but those attempts just resulted in a lack of focus.  Therefore, in my journey to healthy limits, I have brought everything together under this blog.
This is my personal blog.  My mission is  to help launch ordinary people into their God given destiny. As a result, I will write about my own personal journey, entrepreneurship, relationships, faith, and web marketing.  My goal is to encourage and motivate you to become all that you were created to be.  Every now and then I will write about other completely unrelated topics… just because I can. 🙂
I will post 2-3 times a week.  To make sure you don’t miss my newest posts you can subscribe by email by filling out the box in the upper right hand corner.
I invite you to join me on this journey.  I promise to share both my successes and my failures and always encourage you through the eyes of faith.