I believe building a small business is much like building a house. You start out with a plan or an idea of what you want to build. Once the plan is in place, you can begin to build the house or the business.
The very first thing you start with when you are building the house is the foundation. You can’t have walls or a roof until you have a solid foundation. No one tries to build the roof first. However, in a small business environment, many business owners start out with the walls or the roof and then wonder why they are having difficulty in achieving their desired result.
As part of the solid foundation, communication is a vital part in the process of building the business. Don’t assume it will just happen, it won’t.
4 Elements of Good Communication:
- Be as specific as possible. Clarify with the details in your communication.
- Example: Someone may only say “call Joe”. Does that mean right now, in the next hour or two or tomorrow? When should that call me made? Don’t assume that the individual you gave the instruction to will know what your intention is.
- Create SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) for as many of the ongoing functions and tasks as is possible. There are certain things that happen all the time during the course of business and it will take less time if everyone knows how to deal with them. Not only for the existing people, but also for anyone new coming through the door. Don’t assume that everything will be done the way you would like it to be if they are not aware of what the expectation is.
- Have meetings that are meaningful and productive. Make sure that everyone is on the same page moving forward. Everyone should know what is expected of them and they should know what they can expect from you. No one is a mind reader. Develop a method to control anyone or oversee anyone you bring into the operation without you having to be with them 24/7.
- Don’t be afraid to pass out non cash compensation to your people. If you see someone is doing a good job or has improved in a certain area, let them know that you are aware of the improvement or the good job they have done. At the end of the day, you are still working with people and most people feel better when they receive a compliment or someone notices their effort.
Be proactive in building your business and not reactive. If you just let things evolve over a period of time or you assume those things will just work themselves out, it will cause many issues downstream and will cost many thousands of dollars to the underlying business.
Try and determine how you want the business to look and run in both the short run and the long run. A good strategic plan will include both short and long term goals for the company.
Creating some processes and procedures will allow you as a business owner to be able to delegate more efficiently and effectively. Most business owners are afraid to delegate very much to other people because they are worried that it may not be done the way they would do it themselves. Therefore, many times an owner will develop an attitude that it is just easier to do it themselves than take the chance.
That attitude will work when the revenues are small and the labor force is very small. It will not allow the business owner to grow and control the business beyond a very small capability. There are thousands of million dollar companies that will never be more than million dollar companies because the business owner/owners will not or cannot let go of the micro control mentality.
Many of those million dollar companies can and should be 5-10 million dollar companies and have EVERYTHING THEY NEED to move to the next level EXCEPT a strategic plan and an owner that will allow delegation, process, procedure and a consistent system to be developed.
Unfortunately, most business owners spend more time and put more effort into planning the family’s annual vacation than they do their short and long term business strategies. That will never produce the best results for the business or its owner/owners in the short or long term.
To learn more about how to improve the foundation of your business, download our Strategic by Design Guide: Eliminate Over 80% of All Management Problems.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Terry McGill is a small business consultant and managing partner of Strategic Business Directs.