Starting, Nurturing & Sustaining Our Small Business

On September 13, 2007, I sat in front of about 150 Lancaster business and community people, flanked by two other small business owners – Liz Martin of Martin Insurance Agency and Dave McIlwaine of HVAC Distributors. The three of us were asked to share at the Small Business Program about how we started, nurture and sustain our small businesses. It was an honor to be a part of this panel and help other small business people learn some of the secrets of running a successful small business in this area. For anyone who is interested, I have posted some of my questions and answers below.

Chamber: What recommendations do you have for other entrepreneurs?

Scheffey: For people thinking about starting a business, understand why you want to start and own a business. Be honest with yourself, and if you are married, include your spouse in that conversation. Be realistic about what the impact will be on your spouse and family. In my case, I wanted to be able to control my schedule so that I could attend my young children’s activities. I also wanted to establish the environment by which I – and our employees – worked. Lastly, I just think entrepreneurship is in my DNA. For small business owners wanting to grow your business, understand what “growth” means and why you feel you need to grow. Do you want to grow in employees, revenue, profits, locations, etc.? In my case, organic growth occurred because our clients wanted more from us and other businesses were attracted to us. My planned growth is all about my retirement plan … to make myself replaceable. That is critical to making a small business succeed beyond its owner.

Chamber: Did you plan for your business to be what it is today, or did it just happen?

Scheffey: I didn’t “plan” it, but it also didn’t “just happen.” My business plan was to want to work directly with owners and leaders of businesses, where we can have a more direct impact on our clients’ businesses … and be able to know that our team’s efforts are making businesses successful. While our services and size change, that focus remains.

Chamber: What strategies did you use in order to break through to next level?

Scheffey: Focus more on our current clients than trying to get new clients. This allowed us to provide excellent marketing support and client service. They grew and referred us to other businesses, which enabled us to grow in the process. I also am constantly looking at opportunities and am not afraid to explore possibilities.

Chamber: What are your proudest moments, or greatest achievements in your small business career?

Scheffey: First, the longevity of many Scheffey team members and clients … as it means we’re doing something right. Second, people who meet me often say they’ve heard of our firm and how great of a company it is. Third, being a 2007 Ethics in Business finalist, acknowledging my success in letting people see my integrity shine in everything I do. Fourth, my two grown children are proud of my example of exemplary business ownership.

Chamber: Do you have any reading recommendations?

The E-Myth … by Michael Gerber
Obsessions Of An Extraordinary Executive … by Patrick Lencioni
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team … by Patrick Lencioni
The Way Of The Shepherd … by Kevin Leman & William Pentak

It was an honor being asked by The Lancaster Chamber to be one of the three panelists. It was a joy to sit in front of about 150 business people and share the pleasures, challenges and frustrations that come from being a small business owner. I wouldn’t be honest if I said owning a business is wonderful every minute of every day. But I can say that I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.