By Deborah Sweeney

Here at MyCorp we’re always happy to see businesses succeed and love to hear about the keys to their success, which more often than not includes making good decisions and repeating them in the days, months, and years to come for the company. As we wrap up the end of the year, today we interviewed 13 business experts to get their feedback on the best business decision they made in 2013 – and how they plan on repeating it in 2014.

1. “The best business decision I made in 2013 was joining EO (Entrepreneurs’ Organization), a global business network of about 9,500 business owners with a very personal flavor. It’s something I’ll definitely stick with for 2014. I am a partner in a 13-year-old boutique advertising agency in New Jersey, and we have reached a steady size and comfort level, but we know we can be more. EO has a unique component called the ‘Forum,’ which is a small group of 6-10 business owners from different disciplines. Forums meet monthly and grow very close, which among other things enables them to serve as a de facto board of directors. Forum members hold each other accountable for business and personal goals, provide feedback and insight, share experiences and sometimes just offer emotional support. The monthly influx of ideas and enthusiasm is invaluable, especially for an entrepreneur like myself who started a business with professional experience but without business training. In addition to the Forum experience, EO holds learning, inspirational and just outright fun events that continuously sharpen the tools I need to be a more effective leader in my company.”

- Adam Schnitzler, Chief Creative Officer, The S3 Agency

2. “Outsourcing is the best decision I’ll remake. Outsourcing web development and SEO this year freed up time to explore other investment opportunities and meet with prospective clients. I’ll continue to invest in outsourcing in 2014 as a means to be able to focus on activities that allow us to continue to grow our business efficiently.”

- Michael Lallana, CEO, Mila Venture Group 

3. “My public relations, marketing and social media company consults with small and medium sized businesses. The best decision we made in 2013 was to become ‘consulting vagabonds.’ Rather than inviting clients to come to our offices, we paired down and now we go to our clients; it’s more convenient for our clients and it’s a good budget concept for our company. When our clients ‘need’ or want to get out of their offices, we use a conference room at our local chamber of commerce which is complimentary to businesses that are members. Until we see any reason to change this policy, we will keep this up in 2014. Further, in 2014, we will use even more the tool GoToMeetings that allows for virtual meetings, screen sharing and video conferencing.”

- Cari Shane and Julie Schumacher, Principals, Sasse Agency

4. “As the founder of Company Folders, a decade-old innovative custom folder printer and branding company, I have made a great decision in 2013 to automate our quoting process as much as possible. As the result our clients get their quotes even faster now and customer service representatives are happier since their job got a little easier. Since automation of our quoting process was a huge success we are going to automate other parts of our business, such as sample request processing and order processing.”

- Vladimir Gendelman, Founder, Company Folders

5. “In 2013, Jay Suites opened up its meeting rooms for guest bookings by non-tenants for the first time ever. Since the service spanned a shorter term than typical for the company (which generally services leases or virtual office plans that last at least 6 months) the company decided to follow up with customers after the meetings as part of an effort to deepen and strengthen their relationship with the company. This practice drove a substantial increase in repeat guest bookings, with customers reporting higher levels of satisfaction compared to baseline. As a result, Jay Suites decided to expand this concept to its tenants and clients in 2014 by performing regular “check-ins” to ensure and increase customer satisfaction.”

- Dorin Rosenshine, Consultant, Jay Suites 

6. “The best business decision I made in 2013 that I will make again in 2014 is making the management of my business completely location-independent. The freedom to be anywhere let me travel the world to explore startup ecosystems in numerous countries and use that knowledge to inform my work with startups in the United States. I’ll definitely continue to do the same in 2014.”

- Cate Costa, Founder, Venture Catalyst Consulting

7. “For over ten years we’ve been a very successful eCommerce business. Starting in 2012 our sales started to decline, while studies indicated a double digit growth in eCommerce. After a brief marketing analysis we found our problem was Amazon and other big box stores had mastered internet marketing and they had become our direct competitors. They rank high in search engines and have a tremendous logistics advantage over a one warehouse distribution network. Ten years ago our major competition was other small retailers that were early adopters of eCommerce. In 2013 we changed our strategic direction to focus on custom products versus commodity type products. The Amazons of the world negotiated product and shipping discounts that we no longer could compete with.

The Custom Bag sales cycle is much longer and requires higher level of customer support. We’ve build our staff’s knowledge of the custom bag market and partnered with manufactures in the US and China. The transition from a commodity based eCommerce business to a customer intimate custom product business has taken about nine months and we like the results. We plan to continue this journey in 2014.”

- Bob Shirilla, CMO, Simply Bags

8. “Easily the best business decision that I made, and will repeat, was engaging a mentor. I self published a book in 2010. Then I spent three years and thousands of dollars marketing myself as a motivational speaker. In 2013 I decided that I needed a mentor to show me what to do and focus my efforts. As a result, I have had more speaking engagements in 2013 than the previous three years combined, and now have an international following. I also have two books, a DVD, and three audio CDs.

I am looking forward to continuing our mentoring relationship into 2014 and beyond. The lesson here? Use someone else’s knowledge wherever you can, and it’s cheaper to pay someone for their expertise than it is to go through the school of hard knocks.”

- Richard London, Owner, A Handbook for Life Seminars

9. “As a business of 8 years I never really invested much time in to business networking. This year I did. I began to visit BNI chapters and instantly made new business connections. Connections that I wish I had made 2 years ago. It is not only a change I made for 2014 but will continue to make each year here on as I have now put my application in to join as a member for their Chapter 62. The other change we made this year was advertising. As a small business we have a big name and I never invested in advertising. This year we decided to advertise where all of the big players in our industry do and we saw a large difference in quality of leads. It is also something we will continue for 2014.”

- Monique Tatum, CEO,Beautiful Planning Marketing & PR

10. “I will further continue on the path of single voice/single consumer. Focus is the key word in 2014 for me, talking to a very specific audience about a very specific pain point that relates to our very specific offering will be my key to further business success.”

- Fabian Geyrhalter, Principal, FINIEN

11. “The best business tip we used this week by far was video content marketing. We will be continuing this in the next year with increase market saturation. For example we shot a simple video tour using an iPad and the free App videolicious. The results were amazing clients from all over America could access it quickly. Also to throw the video link into your email signature adds credibility and brand awareness.”

- Steven Clarke, 3rd Generation Charleston Realtor, Island Exclusives, LLC

12. “A few weeks ago, Tony Ellison, CEO and founder of Shoplet, switched out the old, stodgy tilted red price tag logo for a new, hip logo. Dressed up in an eye-popping, catchy colored green, and featuring a leaf inside the letter “e,” Shoplet’s new logo not only grabs your attention, but also firmly pronounces the company’s push to go green. Shoplet’s new logo is catching up with the green values that Shoplet has upheld for a great deal of time. Rebranding the company has been quite a challenge, as the decision to rebrand cannot be undone. Shoplet plans to expand upon its new logo by continuing to further encourage its customer base to shop green. Shoplet has made valiant efforts to illuminate the value, simplicity, and convenience of selecting green office products at Shoplet. With Shoplet’s recent expansion to the United Kingdom and Canada, our influence can, in fact, make a world of difference in the eco-sphere. Shoplet intends to revolutionize the office product industry and the decision to adopt a new logo will carry us on as a representative of eco-friendly products in the future.

- Diana Regal, Business Development & Marketing Associate, Shoplet

13. “This past year we made a huge investment in taking on our foreign competition head on by becoming the only one in our industry making our products in the USA! I have a very unique company – no one did licensed rubber ducks before as the intricacy in the sculpting and painting we offered was unheard of. We ended up selling over a million ducks and creating a whole new company that does a line of celebrity rubber ducks that were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly and featured on TV shows, magazines, and newspapers including The Tonight Show. The rubber duck was actually invented in the USA. Now every rubber duck was being made overseas. We decided to bring the whole rubber duck industry back here and are now the only ones making them in America once again! We’re actually making them in New York City where as it turns out some of the first rubber ducks were invented in the 1800′s! We can also make shorter deadlines and do smaller production runs that our competition cannot. And the quality and safety of our items is as good as it gets. It has been very emotionally rewarding doing this and all signs point to the fact that it is going to be very successful long term and is really paying off for us that we plan to greatly increase in 2014.”

- Craig Wolfe, President, CelebriDucks 

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