Monday, November 17, 2014

Managing small business

     Free tips, information, advice, and ideas, 
     with examples from real small businesses.

     Managing a small business is difficult. The basic problem is you are too close to the actual work being done. In fact, you might well be the only employee.

     You handle sales, production, customer service, ordering materials and supplies, scheduling, and everything else that comes up. Then you turn off the lights and take out the trash.

     The head of a big company has other people to handle all these pieces of the operation. To use an analogy, the head of a corporation is like the conductor of a symphony orchestra. The strings and woodwinds and percussion players play their individual parts, and the conductor puts it all together. 

     Well, that might be you one day. Meantime, your small business is you. You play all the parts.

     To manage your small business so that it grows in an orderly fashion, you must pay attention to planning ahead. Planning turns growth into an orderly process. Planning sets milestones to help you know you're on the right track.

     First, set your long-term goal. This can take some soul-searching on your part. A massage therapist, for example, can set a long-term goal of growing into a wellness center--offering much more than massage therapy.

     Second, set some milestones that, over time, will head your small business toward that long-term goal. This is a matter working backward from the long-term goal to where you are now. Tie your milestones to target dates in the future. A plumber, for example, might set a milestone in the future to add another service van and another employee.

     Third, each milestone will require that you answer certain questions. Will the consumer market you serve support each of your milestones? What effect will technology play? Will you need outside funding or can you grow using only internally-generated funds? Can you use a business partner? Will you need additional space, equipment, employees, or other inputs?

     Fourth, turn all this into hard numbers for each milestone with a projected date. Make certain that projected income from your projected sales efforts more than covers projected expenses. Numbers have a way of turning idle dreams into hard realities. 

     Managing means staying on top of an ever-changing world. Long-term goals and milestones can change as well. Planning ahead helps you sleep at night--after you take out the trash and turn off the lights. 

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