Small Business Success Q&A #5: Pelland Advertising

Any small business that has been around for 30 years must be doing something very right. For Pelland Advertising, the key to their long-term success is going to extremes to understand their clients’ businesses, industries and specific needs. They never presume that “they know it all,” an attitude I appreciate since I’ve had to work with a number of graphic design divas in my day.

Thanks to their ability to carefully listen to clients and to deliver on time and on budget, Pelland has been able to build long-term client relationships that are the backbone of any small firm’s success. I’m sure we all can learn from owner Peter Pelland’s Small Business Success Q&A. Enjoy!

Name: Peter Pelland

Company: Pelland Advertising

Location: Haydenville, MA


Year founded: 1980

No. of employees: 4 full-time, 2 part-time, and a network of freelances

Business description: Website development and hosting services; four-color process collateral advertising production.

Keys to business success: I have never accepted what have been considered conventional wisdom and standards. We listen to our clients and attempt to understand their businesses better than anyone other than the clients themselves. We establish a commanding expertise in our fields of concentration. Our primary objective, ahead of the generation of profits, is to insure our clients’ success. Loyalty and mutual respect are behind our relationships with both our clients and our business associates.

Best business advice you’ve ever been given: If you don’t have confidence in yourself, neither will anyone else.

Worst business advice you’ve ever been given: “Only an idiot would attempt to do serious graphic design work on the Windows platform.” I resented and ignored that advice right from the start, and the know-it-alls who offered that advice all seem to be waiting on tables or working the counters at convenience stores today.

Toughest thing you’ve ever had to do as a business owner: Terminating employees and terminating clients. As a result, I maintain impeccable interviewing standards in order to avoid that situation. Initial gut feelings are almost always correct.

What advice would you give to someone just starting a business? 1) Research your market and know your competitors’ businesses. 2) Present your competitive advantages in a manner that will allow your prospective clients to draw their own conclusions regarding your competitors’ weaknesses and vulnerabilities. 3) If you think you’ve just invented the wheel, you are destined to fail. 4) Stay within your means, and remain debt-free. 5) Do not be obsessed with business plans and long-range goals, or you will find yourself unable to keep up with evolving markets, resulting in lost opportunities.

Favorite all-time business book: The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson

Favorite business book read in the past year: The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems by Van Jones

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