I recently attended a meeting along with several Tucson business owners. At the end of the meeting, each executive was asked to share one of their most important tips to running a successful business. Here are a few of the ideas they shared.

For new businesses, vet the legitimacy and sustainability of your business concept before investing your time, energy and money into it. Align your personal passion with your business if you can.

Be as efficient with your time as possible. Take some time management classes, utilize time blocking and avoid distractions. Have written goals and review them often. Spend the majority of your time ensuring those goals are met. Invest in system and process improvement. The more efficiently your business runs, the better.

For most business owners, their employees are the most valuable asset. Take your time and hire really good people. Avoid the temptation to hire family members and friends. Once you have the right people in the right places, learn to delegate. Give your employees more responsibility and provide them with the training they need. Recognize them for a job well done, and challenge them to reach their full potential. Be aware of the important areas of your business, and know what key people are doing.

One of your goals as a business owner is to generate good, loyal clients. Place your priority on service, not on sales. When you place your emphasis on customer service, you set yourself apart from the competition. Your clients will notice the difference, and their loyalty will soon follow.

Finally, be humble enough to learn from others. There are many important lessons ahead of you. Strive to learn something from everyone you know. Hire a good business consultant and join a peer-to-peer mastermind group. These two sources of information will allow for quantum leaps in the development of your business.

If you were at this meeting, what would your advice have been?

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.