Ten Business Lessons from Twenty Years in Business

After establishing and running my business now for almost twenty years, I have struggled, observed and made many discoveries. Here are the most important lessons I have learned:

1. Do what you love. Have passion for your vision, no matter how big or small.

Donna Dilley in 1994 2. Have the heart of a servant. If you do not enjoy serving others, there is no reason to own your own business.

3. Be thankful each morning for the opportunity to labor doing something you love. It is a great privilege that many never experience.

4. Surround yourself with a circle of people you trust. Solicit opinions, feedback and bounce ideas around with the individuals in your circle.

5. Be flexible and know that those who aren't will get bent out of shape. In other words, be willing to adapt; adjust procedures, offerings and marketing approaches to correspond with the always changing times.

6. Take care of your physical health. Starting and running a business is a bit like having a baby - all-consuming. Neglecting to carve out a niche for your personal well-being will lead to added stress and burn-out.

7. Avoid negative people that do not value your contributions and who diminish your confidence in your abilities. Running a business is not meant for the faint-hearted and you need all the courage and confidence that you can muster to stick with it.

8. Trust your intuition. When in doubt, don't!

9. Put everything in writing.

10. Be willing to admit your errors and apologize when you are wrong.

Donna Dilley has been a business etiquette consultant based In Roanoke, Virginia since 1994.  You're invited to read more from Donna Dilley on Handshake 2.0.

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  1. Excellent advice Donna! There is nothing more important than to love what you are doing. It affects everything else! My additional goal is to do what you love… where you love!! In other words live and work in a place you love!

  2. Laureen Fleming says:

    Loved your post today, Donna. I could not agree more with your assessments.

  3. Donna Dilley says:

    Thank you for your positive feedback. I wish you & Anne much success with “She Chooses” and know that it will be great!


  4. Really great article.

  5. Donna Dilley says:

    Gail, thank you!

    Good luck to you and the upcoming Art fundraiser for the Y in Blacksburg.


  6. Debby Moore says:

    Dear Donna,

    While I don’t have my own business, I work at one and think that this is excellent advice for everyday living as well!!

    Debby Moore

  7. Donna Dilley says:

    Debby, thank you so much for your feedback.

    You have been a great source of encouragement to me; both personally and with my business as well.

    Hopefully, I’ll see you soon at Crock and Roll.


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