As we conclude National Small Business Week, it’s important to head into the rest of the year strong. After all, more than half of Americans own or work for a small business, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. And if we don’t own a small business or work for one, it’s likely that someone close to us does.

With that in mind, Optimum Business, a high-speed broadband Internet service provider, is offering 12 tips—and not just tips but ‘proven tips’ to help small businesses thrive in 2011 and beyond. So without further ado, here are the first six tips, with my thoughts and reactions along the way.

1. Build a Team: Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, writes that having the “right people on the bus” is the single most important determinate of success for any business. Ask yourself, do you have the right team in place?

2. Be Optimistic: Optimism is the fuel that drives most entrepreneurs when all others would lose hope. In fact, a study among small business owners by Cablevision’s Optimum Business unit shows that over 75 percent of small businesses believe optimism plays a critical role in their on-going success.

3. Reward Hard Work: Once you’ve built a team, remind them regularly how much you value their contributions and to celebrate their accomplishments. It never hurts to use cash, but there are other incentives. Even a kind word will do.

4. Plan for the Future: It is hard to get anywhere if you don’t know where you want to go. Imagine where you want your business to be in two years, five years or even 20 years. Studies show that if you write down your goals, you are more likely to achieve them.

5. Don’t Sacrifice Quality for Value: Watching every penny like a hawk seems to be wired into the DNA of most entrepreneurs. But be careful not to cut costs at the sake of quality. Look for vendors who can deliver value, providing the quality you need at a rate that works too.

6. Be Accessible: For better or worse, we’ve moved into an era of 24/7 accessibility, in which customers have come to expect interaction on their schedule, not necessarily yours. While it is up to you to decide how accessible you want to be, technologies like e-mail and “find me” telephony give you lots of options.

Stay tuned on Monday for six more tips to help your small business thrive.