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Managing a small business is an art, not a science. You can use inputs from science and a financial infusion, but the on-going balancing act is more akin to a high wire performance.
Artists who create, alternative health practitioners, technology businesses, and any other small business--all these owners must manage the operation.
Managing involves many pieces. You motivate yourself and your employees. You watch the bottom line. You prepare for emergencies. You stay on top of technology. You stay alert to market opportunities. And, most importantly, you listen to your customers/clients.
Example: Alex is an artist who paints in oils. His abstract paintings have attracted some attention, but sales are not enough to support him. To supplement his income, he does portraits, but opportunities are few and far between. At a gallery showing of his works, Alex overheard one of the attendees complain that there was nothing on display that was priced low enough to be considered as gifts to friends. It gave Alex an idea. He began to turn out a series of small paintings, quickly done, and reasonably priced. He frames them himself and sells them on his website, in high-end gift shops, and at special shows. Now he doesn't worry about continuing income while he concentrates on the larger, and expensive, abstracts.
An ear to the ground in the marketplace can help bridge the gap between success and failure. You gotta give 'em what they want--and can afford.
Example: Mary is an expert Reiki practitioner. She works from home, seeing clients at their place. Mary was approached by a wellness center to join the group. For a reasonable monthly payment, she would have her own room to see her clients. With her certifications, she could now teach others at her new place. Further, by being part of the wellness center, she could attract more clients. Mary jumped at the chance.
Joining with compatible business partners can solve problems for small-business owners. It's part of on-going managing to grow the business.
Example: Sue runs a small printing operation. She stays on top of the technology that has revolutionized the industry. Instead of listening to salespeople trying to get her to buy a bigger press, Sue opted for a newer, smaller, cheaper, technologically advanced press that could turn out short-run color work. It was a management decision that has propelled Sue's operation into a narrow, but profitable, market segment.
Managing a small business means you must stay on top of everything. You make all the decisions. And then you take out the trash and turn off the lights.
More examples of managing are scattered throughout these write-ups. Whatever your business, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.