It doesn’t matter what type of small or medium sized business you operate, new problems always seem to make their way into your day. If you are like most entrepreneurs, you are most likely not afraid of challenges and surprises. Unfortunately, what you are confronted with is a limited budget and a clock which only issues 24 hours in a day. You are not alone in this situation, you and other business owners are required to be the janitor, the CEO, and every position in between. You can’t be expected to be a fortune teller or an expert in everything, but you can limit your risk to some of the most popular business challenges by simply knowing what they are. Here are a few tips to better prepare your business for success as well as give you an edge in recognizing certain elements within business challenges.
Be Realistic with Time Management
Don’t become your own worst boss and mandate yourself to do everything within unrealistic timelines. Running a business takes far more time and energy than most people would think and because you are wearing multiple hats, you tend to be more reactive than proactive. Get control over the time you allocate throughout the day. Track things that take up your daily and weekly time so you can identify the tasks needed to be scheduled, and areas of waste you can improve. Make sure to schedule daily time for yourself to be away from the business to clear and refresh your mind.
Invest in People that Add Value
Hiring employees, partners, or outside help is not as simple as it might sound. The key is to connect with people that help you add value to your business. If you add a sale associate, ensure they project the image you wish to portray. If you hire a consultant, make sure they are delivering measured results. With the right people adding value and enhancing your reputation, you will always present the best version of your business. An employee who smiles at point of purchase can make a huge impact to future sales, just like a consultant’s business strategy might create a great return on investment.
Schedule or Assign the Administrative Tasks
Paying invoices, ordering product, payroll, chasing receivables, and many other tasks are usually not the fun part of owning a business. Administrative tasks are a real challenge in daily operations. You need to spend most of your time doing what you do best for the business, therefore it makes sense to schedule these tasks into your day, assign the administration tasks to others, or hire outside professionals to take care of them. In a lot of cases a professional will take less time than you would have taken, and you can get other things accomplished with the reclaimed time as an added value.
Understand Your Cash Flows
It is easy to see the money coming into your business, but are you paying attention to the many avenues allowing your money to exit? With all the expenses such as cost of sales, wages, property, equipment, etc., money can slip out at an alarming rate. You didn’t get into business to lose money; it was most likely quite the opposite. Whether you are self-financed or paying of a business loan, you owe it to yourself to spend cash resources wisely. Build a budget and stick to it! Forecast your sales in meaningful increments like weekly, monthly, or annually so you can visualize your revenue and prepare for future expectations. Take advantage of incoming and outgoing accounting incentives. Some payables may have discount motivators linked to paying by a certain date, and there are many strategies to improve your receivables. The bottom line is this, it’s YOUR bottom line.
Know the Value of Marketing/Advertising
Most business owners learn or try to understand marketing and advertising by merely trying different things. They simply don’t have the education or experience in the advertising world and its usually a challenging topic for small business. Any mis-directed marketing will drain your budget rather than convert it to revenue. Do some research, read how-to-articles, or make the investment in a marketer to maximize a targeted return. Most business owners are the do-it-themselves type and may not realize the full potential value of marketing or advertising. Don’t think of marketing as an expense, view it as a great investment if done well.
Build Compliance into Your Business
Paperwork, red tape, consistent submissions, rules, regulations… they all take the fun out of business. Learn to appreciate why those things exist and understand that they are a regular part of business ownership. When it comes to local, industry, provincial/state, or federal regulations, make sure you take the time to understand what is required to operate your business and then build compliance into your risk framework. Be vigilant as there will be a lot to learn. Local bylaws, accounting regulations, safety legislation, building codes, and government submissions are a few examples. This is where collaborating with an outside professional can be worth their weight in gold because rules and regulations are always changing. Most professionals keep up with current changes which adds significant value to your business compared to trying to teach yourself which ones apply and how to implement them.
Wrapping it Up
I hope you enjoyed these few tips. Like I stated in the beginning, you are probably not a fortune teller, but now you understand what to look for. You can’t do everything yourself so don’t be afraid or embarrassed to bring in a consultant or extra help. As a consultant myself, I find a great reward in transferring my knowledge and skills to help others succeed. Know that your business will always require constant attention, and a planned execution on your strategy will be rewarded with results. Make the choice to support your business with solutions that make it even more valuable.
If you like this article, go ahead and "Share" it with others. Vaughn Bonsteel is a Business Consultant and Safety Consultant helping companies and people like you understand current situations to move them forward towards their targeted goals.