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Owners of local shops in downtown Hillsdale have advice they had to learn in growing their own busi­nesses.

Being a small town, the people of Hillsdale have a lot of oppor­tu­nities to pursue their dreams and open their own busi­nesses. These local business owners work hard each day to provide the best products and ser­vices to their com­munity. Here are seven pieces of advice they have for young entre­pre­neurs:

  1. Be reliable. “My values are the same for my life and business: you follow through, you own up to your mis­takes, you be on time, and you do exactly what you say you’re going to do.” - Jane Stewart, owner of Smith’s Flowers since 2010
  2. Never cheat. “I never try to cheat people. I love my com­munity, I love to give what everybody deserves, I love to share flowers, but I never try to cheat people. I didn’t learn that by mistake; that’s my values that I was brought up on, and I think that’s one of the reasons we’re suc­cessful.” ‑Stewart
  3. Be ready to grow. “When I was in high school, I was very shy, and I wouldn’t have ever believed that I got up in front of people and taught painting classes or opened a business.” - Jonna Macy, owner of Toasted Mud since 2010 
  4. Do what you enjoy. “It’s one of the great things about when you’re trying to figure it all out. A really good starting point is to find some­thing you really love and then think, ‘How can I make money doing that?’ If you have a hobby, you love it, you need to figure out how to make cash. Then you’re not mis­erable doing it.”  -Macy
  5. Don’t wait to get started. “Look for your adventure. If I had started Toasted Mud before I got married or had children, it would’ve been a lot easier. I could have lived off of peanut butter and jelly sand­wiches while I was trying to get it to grow. Go forward with what you want to do first.” -Macy 
  6. Put in the time. “Don’t go into your own business if you think you’re going to have a lot of free time. You don’t. I think that was the number one sur­prise here. I knew in order to get this restaurant turned around that it had to be run as a family. It had to be everyone involved. I just didn’t realize that it would still require me to work six or seven days.” -Donna Olstead, owner of Cottage Inn since 2014
  7. Get your kids involved. As mothers, all three of these women expressed the impor­tance of bal­ancing running a business and being there for their children: 

“[My two kids] were running around here in diapers when we were doing this. Time just goes by so fast.” ‑Macy

“I would take her to school in the morning, go to work, and then she’d ride the Dial-A-Ride bus and get dropped off. She’d do her homework in the back of the store, and she would do things that needed to be done. She was a very good helper.” -Stewart.

“I was making these really hard decision for our family. I was missing softball games, watching them grow up. My daughter is now done with college, and she’s able to help to be home to help run, which has been the right time to come in and help us, espe­cially as we’re trans­ferring over to the silos. Now that my kids are older, I think they appre­ciate the effort and that we’re trying to leave a legacy behind for them to run after we pass.” -Olstead