Know Your Business From the Ground Up

Continuing to learn and understand every facet of your business will make you a better, more successful business owner
Know Your Business From the Ground Up
Training the next generation: The author's son helps set up restrooms before the New York City Marathon in 2015.

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“Knowledge is power.” I can’t think of anything that rings this true when it comes to owning your own business. No matter how long you have been in business or what job you do, it is clear that the more knowledge you have, the further you will go.

I have been around small business and portable restrooms since I was a child. My parents talked about business at the dinner table. I spent my weekends helping out with large events. Summer break from school meant helping out in the office. Even with all that time under my belt, I can still say that I don’t know everything about this industry. It is a personal quest to continue to learn and grow our business.

To say I started at the bottom is an understatement. When I was a teenager, my mother gave me small jobs like filing or putting together mailings. To a teenager, this was the most boring thing in the world. But it was the start of my education, and I still use the information I learned then.

In college, I helped out at larger events. I would zip tie toilets shut, read maps to drivers in the dark, or run out for dinner for everyone. When you have been on a truck delivering portable toilets in Manhattan, New York, during rush hour, you truly see how hard our drivers work every day. Every time I sell an event, I think of that and charge accordingly.

When we hire new office employees, one of the first things they do is spend a day on a pump truck with a route driver. It is the same philosophy with special events. How can you sell a toilet or give good customer service if you have no idea what it is that your drivers do, what the equipment looks like, or how a job site is run?

The quest for more knowledge never ends. Reading industry magazines and business books or taking continuing education classes help grow your business education. Attending chamber of commerce or small business association meetings puts you around like-minded individuals who can give ideas, tips and more. If you get one small thing, an idea or a tip on a better way to do something, then that meeting or class was a success.

I want to be the best at what I do. I want to know and understand all aspects of our business so I can run a smart, efficient company. This means I have to work toward this every day. And so should you.

Whether you have been in business 20 years or you are starting a new business from the ground up, you will need resources and people who can help you learn. Growth comes from making smart decisions and constantly expanding your area of expertise.

About the author: Alexandra Townsend is co-owner of A Royal Flush, based in Philadelphia.


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