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7 Big Lessons From Today's Small Business Successes

4. You're never too young to start a business, either. Bridgeja' Baker, owner of Creative Jewelry by Bridgeja' and winner of SCORE's Outstanding Minority-Owned Small Business was 10 when she fell in love with jewelry making. After taking many classes on how to make the hand-crafted jewelry she sells, she realized that she wanted to continue with the hobby more seriously after she made $1,100 at her first jewelry selling party a year later.

Last year she made $15,000, doubling her 2010 sales. She plans to exceed that amount in 2012.

Baker has set her sights on national growth for the business. She currently has several pieces being sold in local shops but hopes to get a few national department stores to pick up her line.

5. Look to your past to find your future. Terry Weaver, owner of USA Gypsum and winner of SCORE's Outstanding Green Small Business used his family roots in farming when launching his company in 1998. USA Gypsum produces natural gypsum products from discarded drywall trimmings to be sold as soil amendment to be used on lawns, gardens and farms.

"My commitment to improving the environment goes back to my boyhood days growing up on a family farm where our livelihood depended on caring for the land, air and water," Weaver says.

"Drywall recycling grew out of that farm background when we realized that drywall was primarily the mineral gypsum and 20% was wasted during construction," he says. "This was in 1998 before being 'Green' was popular. Our society simply cannot afford to continue landfilling valuable raw materials that can be economically reclaimed."

6. Running a business means stepping out of your comfort zone, but knowing when and where you need help. Terri Paradise and Marcia Connelley, owners of Massage Envy - Middletown (Kentucky) and winners of SCORE's Outstanding Franchise as a Small Business, were familiar enough with processes and managing employees but when they opened their first location of the spa franchise, they were less familiar with other administrative parts of running a business, such as marketing.

"We did not do our marketing well and [agreed to anything] that walked into our door," Paradise says. "We spent a lot of money on TV ads, we did radio ads, we did any kind of Yellow Pages and White Pages and magazines in Louisville. When SCORE came in, they asked what works. We weren't really sure."

Paradise says it was an awakening for the partners on what it takes to truly run a business. "We had to learn areas that were uncomfortable for us or something we never worked on," she says.

7. Do it right the first time, then be ready for the inevitable changes. Joel Goldberg, founder and CEO of Aurico Reports and winner of SCORE's Outstanding Veteran Owned Small Business, says being in the U.S. Navy provided him with many lessons that apply to the business world, most importantly -- "do it right" the first time around.

Goldberg founded the employment screening, background check and drug testing company in 1991.

"There are two constants in business. The first constant is that companies need to provide world class service and quality. You can't vary on that. The second constant is that change is inevitable and you need to be ready to make those changes and stay ahead of the curve," he says.

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To contact Laurie Kulikowski, send an email to: Laurie.Kulikowski@thestreet.com.

>To submit a news tip, email: tips@thestreet.com.

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