May is Small Business Month! All month long, small business owners and local people throughout the nation have been celebrating their community’s entrepreneurial spirit with award ceremonies, seminars, networking events, trade shows, and of course—by shopping local!
However, building a successful business is about much more than increasing sales and revenue. Just ask Brandon Andersen of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota— the president and owner of the largest rustic furniture manufacturer in North America.
Here’s how Andersen, a TDS commercial customer, was able to transform the local shop into a national powerhouse—all while remaining a small business at heart:
Lonesome Cottage Furniture Co.
30773 Patriot Avenue
Pequot Lakes, Minnesota 56472
President & Owner: Brandon Andersen
When did your business open? Lonesome Cottage Furniture Co. (LCFC) was founded in 1998 as a small retail furniture manufacturing operation in Ossipee, Minnesota.
How long have you owned the business? I purchased the business in 2003. It had about 15 employees at that time, and was located just south of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota. LCFC was still just selling retail in the Brainerd Lakes area.
Why did you decide to become a business owner? My wife and I purchased LCFC because we could see that it had a lot of potential to grow outside of the local, retail market. We developed a wholesale brand and started selling to other retailers around the country. We developed other product lines and focused on selling in our niche—rustic furniture. We have grown to become the largest rustic furniture manufacturer in North America.
In owning and running a business, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned? The importance of determination. Being a business owner is hard work, and you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. As you start building a team with a common mission and core values, your role changes but your focus and determination cannot. You always have to make sure that your team is paying close attention to what matters most—taking care of your customers.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when starting out, what would it be? Slow down! Analyze your options a little more closely before picking the course. Sometimes the best way isn’t the first idea that comes to you.
What’s the most successful way you promote your business in the community? Referrals—word of mouth from happy customers is the best way to build reputation.
Like TDS, your business prioritizes community involvement. How do you do this, and why is it so important? We try to give back whenever possible. In 2022, we were honored to be named the Pequot Lakes Business of the Year for creating local jobs, buying local products and services, and our active involvement in the community.
We have always tried to prioritize causes that benefit children in some way, making their lives more positive and fulfilling.
Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce? Why would you urge other business owners to join theirs? LCFC has been a Chamber member for 20-plus years, and the whole community benefits from a strong Chamber of Commerce. All the businesses in the Chamber support each other, and there is a lot of business that gets passed back and forth between members. The Chamber provides a forum for people to learn about your business and network with other owners.
Chambers also provide valuable training opportunities for their members to learn and grow. They are an effective advocate at the local, state, and national levels for causes that are important to business owners.
What’s your business’ most successful social media property? We have utilized Facebook quite extensively to promote our business. A lot of people discover our business through this medium.
Any advice you’d like to give other entrepreneurs? The most important thing that I’ve learned as I have grown the business is to hire really good people. Take your time and find the right ones, provide clear objectives, define what the core values are, and get out of their way and let them perform. I have tried hard not to micromanage people—I want them to make decisions and be accountable.
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