Small business management can be challenging, but here are a few tips to help you down the path to success…
Get and Stay Organized
Set up processes, tools and training to help your team execute tasks and be successful in their jobs. When you set up systems that work, not only will your employees be more efficient, but they will be happier because you are setting them up to win.
You should invest the time and money in training your employees, and be sure to purchase necessary software or tools they need to perform their daily tasks, but you can save money on back office systems if you do a little research. For example there are many free and low cost systems you can use to help with accounting, project management, phone systems, and more. Take some time to research options that make the most sense for your business, test them out and then be sure to train your employees on how to use them.
When it comes to any business, communication is key. In a small business it is absolutely crucial to your success. In general, never leave your team in the dark when it comes to company business that may impact them and be sure to clear up misunderstandings quickly. You’d be amazed at what a quick conversation can do to stop rumors and gossip in the office, when you address things immediately.
When you communicate and include your employees in changes that are happening, they are much more likely to feel a part of the process and things run more smoothly. People need to feel heard and want to know that their concerns matter. Keep in mind, they would not raise an issue if they did not care, and you want employees who care about their jobs and your company. If you ignore an issue or employee concern, it is sure to backfire on you.
Set Clear Expectations and Provide Feedback
Make sure you clearly outline individual roles and responsibilities for all team members, define expectations, and make sure everyone is on board before you proceed. Make sure when providing feedback that you acknowledge successes, and investigate reasons why someone may have fallen short on a task – before you dish out any constructive criticism.
It’s easy to notice when someone may have not been able to complete something on their list, but be sure you do not ignore the several other things they were able to complete. You need to hold your team accountable, but they also need to know that you appreciate them, and that you are understanding.
Remember, you are only as good as your team, you need their help and it costs more to hire a new employee than to retain a current one. It is a challenge to find the right balance but if you take the time to do this, you will avoid potential misunderstandings and issues with employee performance down the road.
Reward Competence and Avoid Nepotism
A good business owner or manager will reward their employees based on performance, and will avoid playing favorites. If you’ve hired a friend or family member and they are not qualified for a particular position, hire someone who is. You may think you are doing a good thing by providing people you know with a job, but if they are not qualified, or if they are not pulling their weight, they can do more damage than good when it comes to the success of your business. Not to mention that nepotism is a fast way to alienate the rest of your team.
To be an effective leader you need to have the ability to be fair and rational when running your business. If you are not treating or rewarding people fairly, your employees will take notice and will lose respect for you and anyone you are favoring. This will cause a serious team management issue for you in the long run if you are not careful.
Build a Team of Innovators, Not Minions
Motivating and empowering your team will help your company grow and prosper more than you could ever imagine. The problem is that most owners treat their employees like minions, simply handing out task lists in order to build the owners company and dream. Most people are not motivated to just act like a cog in the wheel. People want to feel like they are contributing on a higher level and making a difference in their work. Most people are not content simply getting up everyday to go and work countless hours to help execute someone else’s vision. Most people want more.
As an owner or manager you are missing out on opportunities to make your business better, if you are not actively soliciting and listening to your team’s ideas. And what’s worse is if you ask for their ideas or opinions, and then ignore them, or if you give them authority to make decisions but then over-ride them in the long run. When you do that, it is not only micro-managing, but it is de-motivating to your team, and not empowering them to help you build something bigger and better than you could ever do on your own. You need proactive participants in your business. Build your team wisely and make sure you are fostering and rewarding innovation.
Get out of the Office, Spend Time with Family and Friends
Believe it or not, all work and no play will drive your business and relationships into the red. Make sure you not only nurture your business, but take time to nurture yourself, and other important relationships. Take up a hobby or sport to give yourself “you” time. When it comes to family and friends, try going out to dinner together one night a week, take a weekend trip away from your home and office, or try to plan at least one longer vacation each year to get away from it all. Be sure that no matter what you do, have fun, and try not to discuss or think about your business.
Some of these tips are easier said than done, but if you give them a try, both you and your business will be better for it in the long run.