80% of small businesses fail within the first 18 months of opening their doors. Grateful not to be counted amongst that percentage; 1st Avenue Marketing & Publishing celebrates its 10th anniversary this month. What’s our secret to an entire decade in business? Glad you asked. Following are four essential approaches to developing a lasting enterprise that have catapulted 1st Avenue over that 18-month hump and helped ensure our longevity.

1. Pursue an endeavor commensurate with your abilities.

A true professional delivers products and services with the utmost level of qualification and expertise.  So the best place to start a business is in a field where you are comfortable, find enjoyment, and excel.  Study and develop any related areas where you might lack knowledge, skill and resources; so that by the time you launch, you are prepared to effectively meet customer needs.

2. Take it one step at a time.

Develop your enterprise gradually. An ideal business plan, for a small to mid-size start-up, should structure development in phases, beginning with a relatively small, low-risk investment, reinvestment of profit along the way, and gradual progression toward – and even beyond – your original vision.  What better time to realize it’s time to shift gears – or even just put it in park and shut down – than during the course of coolly implementing an inexpensive, low-risk strategy? It should go without saying that the alternatives – such as having no recourse but to call it a wrap after sinking an entire lifesavings into a failed scheme, and incurring untold amounts of debt along the way – are unacceptable. Just ask 80-percent of small business owners… eighteen months from now.

3. Minimize overhead.

It’s called overhead for a reason: sooner or later, you’ll likely find yourself over your head. “Live” beneath your means. Don’t spend money you don’t have. There are another hundred ways I can think of to say it; and yet I can’t say it enough. Invitations to borrow, charge, finance and refinance can be very alluring. However, please keep in mind that incurring any kind of debt – including specialized loans and lines of credit marketed specifically to the small business owner – is a significant part of a paradigm that consistently fails– 80-percent of the time to be exact. As my father would say, “Debt is slavery.” Better to reread number 2, above. Start small, maximizing your opportunity for growth and giving your endeavor the opportunity to finance itself. Ultimately, if it’s incapable of paying its own way, it’s just not a good idea.

4. Spoil your customer.

It is widely agreed by experts that it can cost as much as 5 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Customers, being the lifeblood of your business, should be treated with the highest levels of respect and consideration – within reason, of course. Make company policy and procedure as clear as possible from the very beginning, prior to payment and delivery of product or service. Where appropriate, enter a contract.  Don’t be a push-over; but be prepared to consistently go above and beyond to deliver quality and to demonstrate gratitude to your clients – again: within reason. A good way of determining reason is to simply ask yourself: “By extending this courtesy, am I compromising the professional integrity, effective operation or profitability of my business?” If the answer is no, then your courtesy is likely within reason. If the answer is yes, it is likely an unreasonable expectation that you should not be entertaining. Ultimately, to spoil your customer is to make an investment. The more adept we become at satisfying their needs and exceeding their expectations, the greater our potential for customer retention and referral.

Old Paradigm: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

New Paradigm: It is  foolish to expect success, using methods that consistently fail.


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Don Samad

Don Samad

Don Samad is the executive creative director and co-founder of 1st Avenue Marketing & Publishing Ltd. A graphic design and marketing professional, he’s overseen the administration of clients’ branding and outreach campaigns for over a decade. Next Level Shift is Don’s way of sharing anecdotes, advice and ideas that inspire him to successfully face 21st century challenges with like-minded entrepreneurs.

To find out more about Don and 1st Avenue Marketing & Publishing Ltd. visit the website: or e-mail him at:

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