Some of the requirements of running a successful small business include conserving as much money as possible, marketing intelligently and effectively, and placing a high priority on customer service. If only the list were that short, of course, there would be a lot more success in the small business realm. What it takes to find enduring success goes well beyond the fundamentals. It requires both intuition and learned knowledge, instincts, and education. Read on for a list of best practices to help start your small business off on the right foot.
1. Effective Leadership
Plenty of decisions have to be made on a daily basis as a small business owner, and it’s with the most difficult ones that it’s important to shine. Consider this example: You have two frontline employees both up for a position in management, and your team is split on who they think should get the job. No matter which way you go, your decision is going to upset half of your staff. Regardless, you have to be swift and decisive – putting things off simply exacerbates the tension. Look at the matter purely from a business standpoint and choose who you think is best qualified for the role. Consult with the person you didn’t select and also explain your decision to team members. Two of the worst characteristics to possess as a manager are indecision and lack of communication.
2. Hire for the Long Term
If your budget is limited, the task of hiring may fall entirely on you. Instead of settling for less than stellar candidates because of a limited budget, consider a long-term approach. Portray your company culture in no uncertain terms and actively participate in grooming your candidates with that culture in mind, allowing them to grow and prosper. You can cut the exorbitant costs of hiring, firing, and retraining new team members by choosing the right employees. You do your staff no good by bringing on someone who’s unlikely to make it.
3. Creating a Positive Work Environment
Work environment does play a role in small business success, and creating a positive one where your team can thrive starts with you. Be open and approachable, throw in a dress-down day or two, and show your staff that you’re a human being – it can be easy to forget such basics when you’re overwhelmed by your responsibilities. Take an interest in the personal lives of your staff and get to know their families. You’re going to end up with a more motivated and productive team if you do.
4. Handling Employee Morale Issues
The responsibility of addressing things like gossip and general employee morale issues also lies with you. You may not be able to eliminate rumors and gossip, but you can help by fostering a professional work environment in which these things are frowned upon. If there’s a problem between two particular employees, don’t let it fester. Get the two parties together, sit down, and iron things out – and don’t let anyone get up until an agreement has been reached. Your staff pays close attention to how these matters are dealt with. Set a good example from the start.
5. Skilled Organization
If organization isn’t already a top priority, make it one. And communicate the message to your staff. File all paperwork in a timely fashion as it comes in and let your employees know your rules for document organization. Good organization can save you and your staff a lot of time and prevent any frustration – or worse consequences – over missing documents.
6. Pitching In
More than likely, you have good knowledge of the nuts and bolts of your operations. Whether it’s processing transactions on the computer or simply helping out customers, your employees want to know you’re there for them when they need help, especially if you’re understaffed. Roll up your sleeves and get out there whenever your team needs an extra pair of hands. You can not only improve productivity by doing so, you can also boost morale.
Juggling the many roles of a small business owner is a challenge. It can be easy to take your staff for granted as you struggle with your own responsibilities, but taking time to interact with them is ultimately going to serve your business well. And remember to hold yourself to the same standards you do your employees. Effective leadership happens best through example. Set your standards high and you just might find your own performance improving as well.
What ideas do you have for how to effectively run a small business?
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