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Power User Spotlight: Information and Research is Essential

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Power User Spotlight: Information and Research is Essential

By JimD
Published: November 12, 2010

After a 23 year career primarily focused on restaurant and retail development throughout the United States, Tony Ozelis started his own small business, Location Island. Location Island is a web-based educational magazine that helps small business owners learn about commercial real estate development. Tony is continually learning and feels that the more information and research you have the better off you will be.

Business.gov interviewed Tony, also known as LocationIsland in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.

How did you start your business?

It all started a few years back when I started writing a book. It was a guide for the small business owner with some best practices from larger organizations. I felt larger organizations had an unfair advantage over small business owners. Many small business owners are a one-man-show trying to balance and do everything. The learning curve can be steep, whereas larger businesses hired people with specialties. Small business owners need a crash course of everything and I was a least starting to develop that.

When I actually started my business, it was out of necessity. I had lost my job and being over 50, I had to do something. I turned my book into what is now my website. I have then been adding to it ever since.

What are some resources that you have found the most useful for building your small business?

I do a lot of research. Many of my friends consider my business my life-long thesis. If you walk into my office on a regular day, I have two laptops and an iPad out.

One thing that I was surprised to find when I was starting was government websites. These had much more relevant information that I expected. Specific websites that I found very helpful were IRS.gov, Census.gov, Energy.gov, and Business.gov. I figured that I am already paying for these resources with my taxes and I should be taking advantage of them.

Not only did the websites give me a lot of good information, but also I have actually called some of these departments. I have talked with people and they gave me exactly what I was looking for. I challenge people to find better resources.

Have you had a great career mentor? How do you suggest finding one?

I have been lucky enough to have three great mentors throughout my career. Finding them is probably the most difficult part. I worked for a larger business and was able to meet people and start relationships, but lifelong small business owners have it much more difficult. Small business owners need to go out and search out a mentor. Some of the best places would be SCORE, Business.gov community, or other social media sites like MeetUp.

Mentors are all about sharing knowledge, experience, and ideas. Therefore, you need to find someone who you feel is compatible. After you know where to look, finding a great mentor should be too difficult.

In your opinion, what is one thing all small business owners should know?

Small business owners need to know their customers. Customers are always changing. If you assume you know your customers, chances are you are probably wrong. There is no formula of figuring your customers out, but if there were, it would create the opportunity to miss things.

What is your greatest accomplishment?

My business. I love being able to help people. I have been teaching what I do for a long time and I have been able to help many people. My website pulls together many resources from all over. I have experts writing blogs, compiled data, and resources from across the web. I put a lot of myself into my business and I take it personally. I love what I am doing.

Quick Facts

Username: LocationIsland

Date Registered: May 10, 2009

Total Messages Posted: 38

Total Kudos Received: 99

As of 11/12/2010

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