Small Business: Four Pieces of Advice for Starting a Successful Business

May 8, 2023

Starting a business takes courage and a lot of hard work. But for the nation's 33 million small businesses owners, no job could ever match the exhilaration of steering their own ship in a sea of limitless possibilities.

That's a good thing, because small businesses—which comprise 99.9% of all companies are the backbone of America. They employ nearly half of the private sector and have created 63% of new jobs since 1995, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

To celebrate National Small Business Month this May, here's the story of entrepreneur Daniel Iannettone. He started two kinds of businesses: the first, a physical therapy practice where he applies his specialized skills; the second, a health-conscious franchise that's both financially and personally rewarding. Both endeavors have allowed him close involvement with the community—and opportunities to give back. Here, he shares four pieces of advice he learned along the way.

1. Build a Business Around Doing Something You Love

Though he studied accounting and marketing in college, a series of personal health issues gave Iannettone a passion for physical therapy. He became a therapist himself, and, in 1995, opened Atlantic Physical Therapy in Miami Beach.

Iannettone’s choice of business exemplifies his number-one tip for people who want to start a business: Do something you love.

“A lot of people go into business because their parents told them to or because they think they should pursue high prestige or pay," says Iannettone. "They're checking off boxes. To be successful, you need to care deeply about what you do."

Iannettone cared deeply enough to get started before he had an office, treating patients in his home and doing all the scheduling, administration, and paperwork himself. “I had a little capital, but I started out pretty lean. In the beginning, I was a one-man show," he says.

As his physical therapy business picked up, Iannettone found an office near a hospital and opened a business checking account at a nearby branch of City National Bank of Florida, where he had also obtained his home mortgage. A bank manager there helped him get set up to manage complicated Medicare reimbursements. He was on the path to growth.

2. Partner Up to Reach the Next Level of Expansion

Over the years, the City National Bank of Florida manager and other bank employees became his allies as he steadily moved the business forward.

“They were very cooperative, alerting me ahead of time about check issues or payments I needed to cover," says Iannettone. "We forged relationships and became personal friends."

Iannettone loved his practice. But between seeing patients and running the business, he often worked six or seven days a week. This scenario led to another tip: “Expect to put in a lot of hours. No one is going to care about the business as much as you do."

As the practice expanded, he hired help, including his wife, aides, students, and an office manager who stayed with him for 17 years.

His experience with employees led to an important learning: “Hire the best people you can afford and give them your time," says Iannettone. "I push people to treat patients well, and they learn discipline. When they prove themselves, I give them opportunities to grow," he says. "If you do that, the money will come." Many of his employees have also benefited, going on to successful careers in physical therapy or other medical fields.

3. Reach Deep Into the Community Ecosystem

In his mid-50s, Iannettone began to think about hiring another therapist to lessen the load of his physically-demanding work. “But that would reduce my income," he says. "I had to find something to offset it."

A friend suggested opening a Smoothie King shop. The healthful supplements that the chain sells were a good fit for Iannettone. And after meeting with executives, he decided to open a franchise. However, there were a few hiccups: A planned site fell through; then the pandemic hit, closing non-essential businesses, including his therapy practice. He bid his time, doing tele-rehab for patients.

After businesses began to reopen, the franchise helped him obtain a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan, and he found a new site. “It was a blessing. I found a place in a brand-new shopping center in a great location," he says.

That location was North Miami Beach, a diverse municipality of 40,000 that swiftly embraced the new store. “They have a strong sense of community, and the support has been incredible," says Iannettone.

 4. Anticipate Your Needs and Have a Plan

In a virtuous circle, Iannettone helps the community that supports his businesses. In addition to contributing to local charity drives, he supplies discounted products to the local high school, which sells smoothies in the cafeteria and at sports events to raise money for uniforms and other athletic expenses. Business started to thrive. “After one year, we're the number-one store in the Southeast," says Iannettone. 

What Lies Ahead?

His remaining goals? He wants to fund a new hyperbaric oxygen chamber at his physical therapy center and pay off the Smoothie King SBA loan.

No small feats. However, where there's a will there's a way. His friends at City National Bank of Florida have found an innovative solution for both problems: Take out a line of credit on his home and loan the money to the businesses. By doing that, he will be able to reimburse the therapy practice for the new equipment and pay off his current SBA loan—replacing it with one that's less expensive. "I will save two-and-a-half points with the new loan," says Iannettone. "That's a very big deal for me."

With the money he saves, Iannettone is considering opening a second Smoothie King. He's currently looking to expand into another community where his business can thrive—and he can continue to make a difference.

Ready to grow your small business but not sure of the next steps? Contact a City National Bank of Florida specialist for more information.

Please note: The content in this article comes from individual opinions and experiences. The content should not be taken as advice coming from City National Bank of Florida. City National Bank of Florida does not offer tax, legal or accounting advice.


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