5 Questions: Lorraine Ball On How To Run A Small Business

By Dwight Adams The Indianapolis Star.

Lorraine Ball is the founder and owner of Roundpeg, an Indianapolis digital marketing company.

Ball understands the challenges of running a small business. She began her business 12 years ago out of house on the Far Northside and now has six employees who design websites, develop inbound marketing and email programs and marketing strategies for small-business owners.

Along the way, she wrote a book, "Business Map: A Guide to Business Success for Small Business Owners," that outlines in clear steps how to craft an effective business plan from its earliest stages to its presentation to its continuation as a living document.

It's actually the third book Ball has written for small-business owners. "Entrepreneur's Notebook" offers advice on how to make marketing investments more effective, and "Confessions of a Networking Junkie" shows how to build business contacts.

Here is the link to where people can buy the books: http://www.roundpeg.biz/books-lorraine-ball/.

Recently, we asked for her thoughts on leadership and how to run a successful business.

Question: How do you define leadership?

Answer: When you understand the reason why people do something has less to do with the fact that they have to do it or it's their job and more to do with personal loyalty, the definition of leadership becomes clear. A leader is someone who instills loyalty, so that the people surrounding them will do what needs to be done even without being asked, purely out of loyalty to the leader.

Q: What is the best piece of advice you've received?

A: When I started Roundpeg, I told my brother if it didn't work out, I could always get a job. He told me the only way to be successful was to go into this venture believing there was no way out. Otherwise, I would always be dividing my attention by spending some energy keeping the "back door" open. So I committed 100 percent.

Q: How has your industry changed in the past decade, and what will it be like a decade from now?

A: When I founded Roundpeg, Facebook didn't exist. Social media, email marketing, mobile marketing -- the majority of things we sell today -- didn't exist. As I look forward, I expect the pace of technology to continue to accelerate.

Q: Everyone is talking about branding. Why is it so important?

A: A brand exists in the mind of your customer. It is important to influence what they think of you, or they will form their own opinions.

Q: What has been your greatest challenge in running a small business?

A: Cash flow, sales, making a decision about when to add staff and capacity are all challenges, but I think the biggest challenge is the loneliness at the top.

No matter how open you are with your employees, there are times that you just can't share what's going on in the business. The same is true with spouses, family and friends. My husband is amazingly supportive, but there are times he doesn't really understand the challenges and the pressures of running a business.

About Lorraine Ball Company: Founded Roundpeg in 2002. Education: Ball has an MBA from the University of Texas and a bachelor's degree in education from Queens College, City University of New York. Career highlights: She is a faculty member at the University of Indianapolis in its new digital media degree program. She received the 2005 Rainmaker of the Year award, 2007 Business Woman of the Year and a finalist in The 2007 Starkey Entrepreneurial Woman Award.

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