Editor’s Corner: Getting Good Business Advice in Unlikely Places

Aug 11, 2011

My mother always said someone who thinks they know it all is a fool ready to fall, and don’t think you’re so smart because you’ll only end up out-smarting yourself.

When deciding what to write about in this month’s Publisher’s Page, I read the lead story in a recent edition of our weekly e-newsletter. Devlin Smith, our managing editor, wrote about her experience visiting Schraders Speed & Style and spending time with owner Mike Abssy.

This was cool because a lot of the shops we feature usually aren’t close enough to Hotrod & Restoration headquarters to visit, although we all love to visit the professional builders in our industry.

During Devlin’s visit, Mike was explaining to her the different things he’s been doing to run his business more efficiently and seemed to talk quite a bit about getting advice from the more-experienced builders in Southern California that he’d become friends with. These guys have become mentors to Mike and he’s discovered that someone with more experience than you has more than likely gone through the same challenges that you’re experiencing and can help steer you away from mistakes.

It was nice to read that local iconic builders have taken the time to help Mike through his newly faced challenges. I also liked reading that Mike has sought advice from other small business owners outside our industry which has also helped him along the way. I absolutely loved this story because it’s a great display of a guy who’s obviously no fool and understands you can learn something from everybody.

This made me think of when I first started in the publishing business in 1992 at McMullen & Yee Publishing. I first worked in editorial but then moved into ad sales. These were the days when we had to wear a suit and a tie every day (man, I’m so glad that isn’t the norm now) so I depended heavily on the local dry cleaners. Working in ad sales is all about bringing buyers and sellers together, and to do that you have to know about their businesses and business in general.

In those days I was very green but very eager to learn, and the guy who owned the dry cleaner was a small business owner who had worked at some large corporations and just loved business in general. He was a nice guy who had a lot of knowledge and experience to share and always challenged me with questions. He started his dry cleaning business to get away from the corporate world and as a tool to share ideas with other business people. Not only could I, and many of his other customers, depend on him for a clean suit, but I also got a lesson in business from him a few times a week.

We all need good advice and you never know where it might come from. It could be an icon in your own industry or the local dry cleaner, but if you look, listen and are ready to learn, it will be there for you.