Does your business rely on you being there to make all the decisions?
Would things grind to a halt if you took a week off to go on holiday or if you got sick?
Do you have to supervise the work of your staff to make sure that it is done properly?
Today many small businesses are totally reliant on their owners for the day to day running and operation of the business. Rather than owning a business, they own a job.
Does this sound like your business, or someone you know?
So how do we fix it?
Have a vision for the future
Where do you want to be in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years time? Do you have an exit strategy?
Many business owners don’t have a plan for the future. There might be some vague idea of where they what to go…but unless that plan is written down, with measurable steps…it is unlikely that this will be achieved.
Yes, that means write it down. Now.
It’s okay to change your mind (or direction). Plans for the future should be living things, you need to review them regularly, and as you grow, this might mean that you need to change your plan.
Don’t worry too much about that right now. Just make sure that you have a plan and that its written down. At least this way if you do change your mind, it will give you a baseline to work from.
Understand the priorities in your business
Make a list of the most important things influencing your business right now?
Keep it simple, start with key topics. Don’t write down 20 things, this is too big to tackle, make it five or six.
• Sales and Marketing
This is just a few ideas, but consider what the main things are that are the challenges in your business right now.
Once you have a list, then take each one individually and write down the issues or things that need to be done. Again don’t make the list too long. Start with the most important.
So now you have a short list of the most important things that need to be done and a list of action points on how to address them.
Now get on with it. Cross each one off when you have done it. You can add to these lists as you work through them, and of course, the more that you think about what are the most important things to be done the better you will understand your business.
Just like your vision for the business, these priorities may change over time. But if you have an understanding of what are the most important things right now and an action plan of how to address them you are well on the way to solving them.
Create systems and streamline administration
Do you struggle with paperwork? What about systems and procedures for the way things should be done?
• Managing Clients and Contracts
• Record keeping
• General administration
• Systems and procedures on the job
• Health and Safety
A key part of all successful businesses is managing the systems and administration of your business.
Start small…make sure that you understand those tasks and activities that need to be done on a regular and ongoing basis. Set up a process that can be repeated for doing these things. Document what and how they are supposed to be done.
Make sure that your staff know what these systems and processes are.
There are many computer and online tools that can help you automate and manage these tasks (and I am a big fan of this), but don’t rush into buying or subscribing to anything until you have some sort of manual or paper-based system working properly first.
Understand and manage your accounts
Are you doing your accounts yourself?
Many small business owners will start out doing “the books” themselves, mostly out of necessity, you simply won’t have enough money to pay someone to do this for you.
But as you start to grow, and your accounts become more complex, bringing on someone to do this for you is a good idea. Even if it is just a few hours a week.
Don’t be tempted to spend hours and hours reconciling accounts and bank statements when you could get someone who really knows what they are doing (unless you are an accountant of course), who will probably do it in half the time…and if you really think about it, this will free you up to do other, much more profitable things in your business.
Are you using an accounts package (Xero, MYOB)? Today modern accounting packages are mostly “cloud” based, this means that you can access them from any computer, your phone and even your accountant can have access. This way the people who “need to know” can have “real time” financial information on your business.
Once you have the basics sorted, then you can start to produce reports that can really help your business grow.
• Monthly profit and loss
• Aged Debtors and Creditors
• Back costing of jobs
• Financial forecasting
The better you understand and are able to manage the financial side of your business, the easier it will be for your business to grow and be profitable.
Do all decisions in the company rely on you?
Are you able to leave your staff to get on with their work, or do you need to be there to make sure that they do the job right?
The only way to grow your business is by allowing other people to be part of the decision making process. One of the best ways to make sure that your staff make the right decisions is to have the proper systems and processes in place so that the potential for mistakes is reduced or eliminated.
Of course this also comes down to having the right staff, qualified in what they do. And if they do make mistakes, make sure that they get the training and support that they need so that it doesn’t happen again.
You will never grow your business if you have to be at the centre of every decision. This can take time, and you, as the owner need to “let go” of things. Train and trust your staff to do the job you are paying them for.
So…do you own a business or a job?
Of course this is only a simple analysis…but hopefully it has given you an opportunity to think about your business…and ways that will help you to understand, manage, control, delegate and grow.