Jean Chatzky
When Jack Miller was 27 years old, he started the Quill Corporation, a mail-order office supply company. More than four decades later, Jack sold his business to Staples for $700 million dollars. Jean talks with Jack about his business practices, which are outlined in his book Simply Success: How to Start, Build and Grow a Multimillion-Dollar Business the Old-Fashioned Way.

Key Areas of Running a Business:

  • Customer service: "In today's world, you get pretty bad service in many places, and there is always an opportunity for somebody who gives great service," Jack says. "[Good service] was one of the biggest elements that helped us become successful."
  • Strong work ethic: "We worked very, very hard, and we put in long hours and only took as much money out of the business as we had to live modestly," he says. "We plowed the rest of the money back into the business."
  • Cutting waste: "I can guarantee you that I can go into almost any company and find a tremendous amount of savings through little things," he says.

Mistakes Many Business Owners Make:

  • Buying a huge facility or entering into a long-term lease: Jack says this is a big mistake because if your business takes a nosedive, you may not be able to pay your lease unless "you can pay for it out of your current income."
  • Moving out of your core competency or area of expertise: "When you are good at something and you do it well, you should stick with it," he says.
  • Trying to run every aspect of the business by yourself: "There are other people that can do things as well or better," Jack says.
  • Striving for rapid success: "The vast majority of companies grow slowly and grow as the result of hard work, and eventually a few of them succeed quite well," he says.
  • Not preparing for hard times: "A business should never make long-term commitments that can't be cut back and that it can't afford to really have if business has turned bad," Jack says.