For many, the idea of owning a small business is a dream come true. People conjure up images of working reduced hours and having a fistful of cash. Whilst this is definitely a possibility for long term success stories, the truth of the matter is that owning and operating a small business is very hard work, can be stressful and the owners are often stretched financially until the business gains momentum. It is, therefore, important for individuals who are contemplating owning or starting a business to be aware of the challenges and reality that can present in day to day operations. This article examines a few key areas operators will need to address.
Operating a small business requires an individual to draw on a diverse range of skills. Often, the owner has strengths in some core areas and has weaknesses in others. Hopefully, this was identified in the business plan. Irrespective, business owners must face facts that they will need to outsource or hire personnel when skill deficiency presents. Trying to be an expert in all the business facets can drain organizational resources and draw the business owner’s attention away from core business imperatives. Part of good business management is knowing how to focus and use your skills in the most appropriate and productive way.
Financial responsibility is an often overlooked and misunderstood area of business operations. This is often the case in organizations that are run by sales personnel who are strong at generating and closing business but not so good at running operations. Having a centralized accounting system with designated personnel or employing the services of a bookkeeping service can assist business owners to deal with the accounting side of the business. It is also important that the business owner consider outside advice from an accountant to assist with the financial and strategic direction of the organization.
Maintaining strong organizational culture has many fringe benefits for business operators. Staff who respect managers and are content with their work environment are inevitably more productive and do not take as many sick holidays. Lower staff turnover reduces staff replacement costs. Building a business requires dedicated and focused staff. Investing in staff training also raises operational IQ and allows managers to delegate tasks to individuals who have upgraded skills. This improves the overall organizational effectiveness. Maintaining good staff relations is an important and often overlooked area of small business management.