Publisher: Kelly Burkart – Posted on 03/22/2013
As your company grows, your management skills must grow along with it in order to navigate the changes and challenges that come with ownership. Use these tips to prepare yourself for success.
- Don’t make decisions too quickly. When you’re faced with a problem to solve, your first impulse is probably “fix it ASAP.” That’s not surprising since most responsibilities fall on your shoulders. Train yourself instead to take a step back and consider all your options, as well as long-term consequences, before you commit to a course of action. Hasty decisions can come back to haunt you.
- Streamline work flow. Many small businesses grow simply because new needs arise. Before you know it, your company is divided into departments that may not work together. Create a flow chart showing how work moves through the company. Ask for employee input and review the work flow periodically. Check for unnecessary tasks, duplicate steps, and other inefficiencies, and decide how to fix them (employees often have great ideas – they may just be uncertain about sharing them with you). It’s important to always keep an eye on the big picture.
- Involve employees. You hired the best people for their jobs; now help them become even greater assets. Providing ongoing training and education opportunities helps employees keep up with industry trends and prepares them to take a bigger role as the company grows.
Involve employees in company decisions, especially ones that directly impact them. Employees who have a good attitude because they have a voice and a future in the company are invaluable.
- Manage inventory. Don’t tie up money in excess inventory. Even if your supplier offers a “good deal” on a large quantity, consider storage costs and the possibility that your needs may change. Don’t get stuck with items you can’t use.
- Be smart about energy use. Look for energy-efficient office equipment. Ask customers if there is anything you are overdoing (for example, more packaging than necessary). Involve employees in finding creative energy savings throughout your company. There are many large and small ways to save that all improve the bottom line.
- Have a clear marketing strategy. Having a marketing plan is key to your business’ success. Don’t relegate it to an afterthought. Look for a marketing firm that specializes in working with small businesses, or hire an independent marketing consultant on a freelance basis.
- Know what you don’t know. Even though you have the knowledge and skills to start a business, recognize that you’ll need the expertise of others to help you succeed. Build a team that includes an experienced tax consultant or accountant, a lawyer, and a business banker.
- Hire and promote wisely. Be cautious about hiring friends or family (unless of course, it’s a family business). Lines of authority can blur and it often becomes difficult for friends to transition into an employee/employer relationship.
Although it’s important to give your employees opportunities for advancement, it’s also wise to consider outside candidates who can bring a fresh perspective gained form working elsewhere. A mix of experience and innovation is healthy for a growing company.
- Base decisions on your business plan. The business plan you created when you started your business wasn’t meant to be filed away never to be seen again. Use it as your guide to making financial and other decisions as your company grows.
- Measure yourself against similar businesses. Research businesses similar in size and operation to yours to find out about their spending, profits, etc. Knowing how your company compares is better than working in a vacuum.
Some management skills are learned; others evolve with experience. By continually enhancing your abilities, your company will benefit now and in the future.
Kelly Burkart is a freelance writer from Minneapolis, Minn. While she has spent most of her time writing about financial services the past 15 years, she has also explored and written about everything from cardiovascular health to travel, higher education and sustainable energy practices.
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