How to grow your business: Takeaways from WSJ’s Small Business Panel

Solve a big un-met customer need, well, and you’ll be successful. That was the big takeaway at Monday’s “Insight Exchange: A Business Owner’s Breakfast Series,” hosted by The Wall Street Journal’s small business editor, Wendy Bounds. The event turned into a dynamic idea session where well established entrepreneurs offered start-ups tips, discussed trends and shared advice on what it takes to turn a good idea into a major business proposition.

Panelists included…

  • ·Steve Demos, CEO NextFoods, a multi-million dollar organic food powerhouse (who is often called the Steve Jobs of small business) who helped to build well known brands such as Silk soy milk.
    His Advice: “Differentiate by design and the presentation of your product.”
  • Colin Roche, CEO of Pacific Writing Instruments, turned into a global retail sensation overnight when he beat out brands like Papermate and Bic in getting his ergonomic pen into Wal-Mart. His product can now be found everywhere from to OfficeMax.
    His Advice: “Knock on every door, chase every opportunity…don’t give up.”

  • Dan Brown, President, LoggerHead Tools, took the phrase 'a gripping experience' to new levels when he re-invented the basic wrench. His Bionic Wrench has received a number of awards in form and function.
    His advice: “VC funding should be your last resort.”

  • Anne Zehren, President, Common Sense Media, an award-winning marketer as a media executive at Current TV, Teen People, Glamour and Newsweek, is currently the President of Common Sense Media, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to improving the media and entertainment lives of kids and families.
    Her advice: “SEO is one place where you’ll get instant business results.”
  • Guy Kawasaki, Managing Director, Garage Technology Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm and founder of,; blogger; author and speaker. Guy is the author of eight books including The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way.     
    His advice: “Don’t confuse fundability with viability.”

Monday’s panel is the first of four in the series and will head to Palm Beach, Denver and Austin this fall. For more information visit:

About the Author: Jillian Fisher