As anyone who owns a business can tell you, it isn’t easy. There are so many hats to wear and so many things to control. Not only does the business owner have to oversee daily operations, but also network for new opportunities to continuously grow. Oftentimes, it just becomes too much. Some tasks get put aside while focusing on others. Organization is the key to growth and development, and there are many ways to remained focused.
Small business owners have to engage in multi-tasking and become experts at prioritizing assignments. If the business has employees, most of the time they are required to have multiple roles within the company. When hiring key individuals for the business, it is wise to ensure that they are capable of performing varied tasks, especially ones that the entrepreneur does not want to perform himself/herself.
For example, the person who answers the telephones could also file documents and maintain client folders. An employee who handles all financial obligations, such as accounts receivables and payables, could also order office or work supplies. Maintaining an atmosphere of cross-training and working together can save a lot of stress in the long run.
Develop A Target Client and Service
The entrepreneur generally has one specific type of client/service in mind. For instance, assume the business builds sailboats. Most likely the owner is an experienced sailboat builder, so the expertise is there. Then a client suggests that a new type of mast would be wonderful, but this is something the business hasn’t yet explored. Someone else suggests starting a showroom of powerboats to expand the business even more. If this type of diversification is financially and physically possible, then fine – go for it.
However, generally it is better, especially in the beginning, to concentrate on one focus and gain the reputation of becoming excellent at it before expanding into other areas. After all, the most successful individuals in the world, such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Carlos Slim and Warren Buffett, have focused on being the best in one or two skills and dominating an industry.
Be Professional At All Costs
Business owners know all too well that quality speaks volumes for the organization. Make certain that nothing is left to chance or assumption. Create contracts and binding documents for clients so that both parties have a guideline of what to expect from your service or product in writing. Maintain a professional relationship with all clients and vendors. Formality does count, even though the tendency to become too friendly with some clients is appealing. An occasional business lunch or dinner is fine, but try to instill a separation between personal and professional relationships.
Don’t Over Commit
It is very important to steer clear of promising more than the business can deliver. Not only does this result in certain key tasks being overlooked, but deadlines are missed and clients become disgruntled. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries and project scopes that are reasonable. Prioritize tasks for yourself that can be accomplished before realizing that there are not enough hours in the day to possibly complete all that you have set out to do. Becoming stressed and overwhelmed is very easy when trying to do way too much, and then the quality of work and creativity suffers, along with your health. Know when to turn projects away in the best interest of all those concerned.
Get Help – Partners vs. Employees
Sometimes the business grows beyond what you can personally handle. Even though employees are fantastic, you still have the responsibility of overseeing their performance. In every business, there are financial challenges as the business grows. Often, this is just more than you or the business can afford to invest. In some circumstances, it is wise to consider taking on a partner. This person can shoulder some of the high-priority tasks, help with employees and offer financial contributions to achieve growth.
A word of caution – make certain that your partner has the same goals for the business as you do. Personal friends often don’t make the best partners, and always set up all expectations in writing through a partnership agreement.
When employees don’t live up to your expectations, you can spend more time correcting their assignments than performing your own tasks. This is neither cost-effective nor productive. Make certain to interview potential employees thoroughly and check references. Ask what they expect from the company and make certain they know what you expect from their performance.
If finances are tight, don’t try to hire 5 people right away. Try to focus on one or two individuals who can work closely with you and handle all projects. As the business grows and money is less of a problem, you can always take on more staff.
Oh, the dreaded deadlines. They loom over your head and no matter how many tasks you have to accomplish, there are always time constraints and people calling to make certain their project is the number one priority. Every client should feel that they are of utmost importance, so it is imperative to strictly adhere to predetermined deadlines. Balance is the key in meeting deadlines. Prioritizing work to exceed client expectations is not difficult as long as you don’t take on too much and tasks aren’t left until the last minute so everyone is crazy trying to get it all done.
Youth vs. Maturity
The young entrepreneur is eager to conquer the world. This is a wonderful attitude and certainly helps start an innovative business with positive future goals. However, young and passionate business people don’t always look at the big picture and realize the huge amount of time and money that goes into operating your own enterprise. The more seasoned entrepreneur is more realistic regarding what they can accomplish. After years of experience, mature individuals can anticipate the pitfalls of trying to do too much at one time and therefore narrow their goals to achievable milestones. Young business owners can often seek advice from mature business professionals.
If you have a business concept in mind, have researched it thoroughly, see a market opportunity and believe you have the knowledge and financial resources to begin your own enterprise, then take the risk. Nothing great was ever achieved without taking a chance. Remember to keep your expectations realistic, operate in a professional manner, guide the business with practicality, and there is nothing that can’t be achieved with hard work, determination and persistence.