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‘What’s the Best Business Advice You’ve Ever Received?’

Interviews by Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

“Focus on revenue-generating activities first. Building a business comes with a long list of tasks and it’s easy to stay busy doing things that are important but not critical. Revenue-generation is critical if you want to stay in business. Do those tasks first every day.”

Deb Coman
Owner, Deb Coman Content Marketing, Syracuse

“Work at your business, not in it. You can’t grow if your focus is on producing work not improving and growing your business. This includes building your skills as a businessperson, especially management of financial ratios and people.”

John Henry
CEO, Mitchell’s Speedway Press, Oswego

“The best business advice I ever received is, ‘Know that leadership is a personal journey with people and experiences along the way helping to shaping who and what your impact will be.’ I always keep this in mind when working with clients and teammates to help them and our Central New York market grow and thrive.”

Stephen Fournier
Central New York market president and regional retail leader, KeyBank, Syracuse

“You need to own your own business! Stop working for others.”

William R. Galloway
Broker and owner, Century 21 Galloway Realty, Oswego

“Be authentic. No one wants to do business with someone who is fake. People will do business with people they can relate to and trust.”

Debbie Bilello
Owner Virtual Office Solutions, Central Square

“Leaders should behave as leaders.”

Jeff Weigand
Publisher, The Palladium Times and The Valley News, Oswego

“Listen first; react second.”

Tyler Ahart
Coalition Project coordinator, Oswego County Prevention Coalition, Oswego

“If better is possible, then good is not enough.”

Barry Trimble
Vice president, Allen Chase Enterprises, Inc., Oswego

“’No Surprises!’ which translated means, ‘Have great communication with your customers.’” 

Bill Reilly
Co-owner, The River’s End Bookstore, Oswego

“A positive mindset brings positive results!”

Leah Haggerty
Licensed real estate broker/owner, Century 21 Leah’s Signature, Fulton and Liverpool

“What sticks in my mind, especially during COVID when we couldn’t have our normal fundraisers, is that ‘People who are able to continue to support your business will be glad to.’”

Sue Brown
Treasurer, Friends of History in Fulton, Fulton

“’As long as you keep working hard, you will achieve many goals,’ Joe Garafolo told me. It’s good advice and to this day, I still use it. It’s how I ended up where I am now.”

John “Luther” Gray
Owner of Motivated Creations, Oswego

“The best piece of business advice I received is, ‘Do it afraid. No idea is too big. Keep going even if others try to discourage you.’”

Ashley McLeod
Director, In Our Words, Auburn

“The best business advice I have ever received is to clone myself in the way of creating video content. What I mean by that is I was doing all work in-person. I was going to worksites and doing all of that myself, but I am only one person. By putting my information into video, I am able to be in worksites all over the nation. We were able to scale our business model because it wasn’t dependent on me being present.”

Kelly Springer
Registered dietitian and owner of Kelly’s Choice Nutritional Company, Skaneateles

“The best business advice I ever received was, ‘It is possible to live your wildest dreams as an entrepreneur. You must build a strong business plan, put together a team of business advisers, get rid of all dream killers and trust your gut.’”

Gwen Webber-McLeod
President/CEO, Gwen, Inc., Auburn

“Never give up. Don’t take ‘no’ from someone who doesn’t have authority to give it to you.”

Daniel Walsh
Chiropractor, Central Square Family Chiropractic, Central Square

“Take care of your customers and take care of your employees.”

Janet Yuckel
Owner, Done Right Cleaning, West Monroe

“Always choose your partners wisely for personal life and business life.”

Jeffrey Scheer
Partner, Bond, Schoeneck & King PLLC, Syracuse

Save your money because everything is going to cost more than you think to operate a business.’ I haven’t always been the best at that but I’ve tried to do this.

Amy Lear, owner of Man in the Moon Candies in Oswego

“I had a great customer who told me a long time ago to keep coming back to him and keep calling him back. He said that a number of people had come to see him. The day they showed up, he didn’t buy something but the people who did come back, he did buy. To be a successful manufacturer representative, don’t be a pest, but keep coming back to make him aware of what’s going on. When he wants to buy and has a question, answer the phone and answer the question. I thought it was the stupidest thing I ever heard but that was 20 years ago and it works. That advice has paid dividends. If I can’t answer the question the customer has, I try to direct them to where they need to go.” 

John Zanewych
Owner Big John Sales, Inc., Oswego

“The best business advice I received was from my grandfather Arthur Paradise, a local small businessman in Syracuse back in his heyday. His advice could be used in any business. ‘Make adjustments and adapt new business models frequently to stay current with your clients and customers. If you’re not growing in business, you’re dying, so adapt to new situations and move on. Nobody likes change, but if you learn early on that it’s inevitable you will use change as a growth opportunity.’” 

Eric Pedrott
Licensed real estate associate broker and office manager at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices CNY Realty, Oswego

“Safety first.” 

Kyle Cheele
Property manager, Canal Commons, LLC, Oswego

“It costs a whole lot of money to get an education. It can be a real mistake to go to college because of that. Consider your other options.” 

Carl Richardson, Jr.
Owner, Carl Richardson Blown Insulation & Painting, Phoenix

“You’re only as good as your last meal.”

Amy Watson
General manager, Domino’s Pizza, Oswego

“Communicate with your guests to better meet their needs.” 

Tanya Telian
General manager, The Eis House, Mexico

“Years and years ago, I was told, ‘Be honest and don’t try to cheat people. Give them their money’s worth.’ I’ve been doing this business for 31 years, so it must work. I make sure the drivers are honest with people out there too.”

Dennis Miller
Owner, Fulton Taxi, Fulton

“Work harder than you think you need to, dream big, set your goals and don’t give up.”

Jay Knight,
Trucking/excavation consultant, Oswego

“The best piece of business advice I ever received is, ‘Assemble a team of professionals.’ As a small businessperson, you try to do it all yourself. You try to do every aspect of running your business. To be effective in business, you need many other people, like a legal partner, banking partner, account partner and also some people close to you, ones you trust that you can count on to help you make decisions in your business. You really cannot do it all alone. It is not possible, as much as you may think you can.”

Kim Enders
Co-owner, Red Schoolhouse Maple, LLC, Fulton

“’Your client and their experience are how you will be perceived by others.’ I utilize carefully structured processes for onboarding new clients and providing ongoing client service. I utilize technology to streamline those processes. Regular communication is a process. I also place a strong emphasis on regular written, verbal and electronic communication with all clients. I hope to learn of their life changes and share the world’s changes.”

Robert Rolfe
President, Harmony Financial Services, Oswego