A successful, sustainable business, regardless of its size, requires *clear direction, *good management, *solid systems for administration, *good marketing and *great service.
As a working business owner you need to ensure all these are in place – whether you are a solopreneur or have multiple staff.
And as an employer, you will have the additional challenge of creating a culture of happy empowered employees who are interested in the success of your business. This interest depends on solid management and clear leadership.
Management and leadership are actually two distinct skill sets. Spending the time to understand each of these roles will help you to achieve your business outcomes and create the foundations for future growth regardless of the size of your business.
Firstly – Leadership.
As the leader you are responsible for innovation, you need to have a clear picture of the vision, mission and goals for your business. Writing (or drawing) it out helps to clarify what you know and what you need to explore further.
(Often we think we are clear and don’t need to write things down; that writing things down might somehow damage the creativity or the beautiful big picture. This feels true because until it is written down it is still a daydream, the process of writing down the details of your vision will take it from a daydream fantasy into a potential reality that you can create.)
It is important to clarify and explore the missing details but, even more importantly, you need to find out what you don’t know that you don’t know! These are the missing links that you cannot see yourself. This is not the ‘how’s’, at this stage you are still staying with the big picture. However, to make sure you have considered everything find someone you trust who can ask the hard questions related to your vision. Make sure you choose someone who has some relevant expertise, this is the time you need a critiquing eye not a raving fan!
As a leader you don’t need to get into the how’s. Leadership is not about figuring out how to make things happen, leadership is about getting clear about the big picture and then being able to sell the ticket, to your staff and, even more importantly, to yourself! Once everyone involved has ‘bought into’ your big picture any decision making will stay in alignment with your vision, goals and mission.
The manager is responsible for taking the vision and making it happen. A manager’s job is to ensure that what must be done today is done in a timely, effective and profitable way. The manager takes care of the ‘how’s’.
If you hold both roles then take the time to switch hats between when you are leading and when you are managing. As a leader you will want your big picture, idealistic and optimistic hat on. You will want to see the distant shore and trust that you can make it.
As a manager you will need your realist hat on, you will need to see how rough the seas are, what debris there is in the water that you may need to negotiate around and whether your sails are big enough to get you there or what help you will need.
By seeing these two roles as separate you will gain the benefit of becoming the observer, an emotionally resilient position to hold in your business. You will also start to identify if you are by nature a leader or a manager. Which of these roles feels more comfortable? Holding the helm or looking out for potential challenges? If you are by nature a leader one of the first steps you may take, once your business is sustainable, is to employ a manager.
Once you employ a manager you must decide what their level of accountability is. As a small business owner it is common to have difficulty letting go of control, however your managing staff must have the level of responsibility they need and be empowered to make the decisions required to bring your vision into reality.
At the same time, as the owner / leader, you must identify and clearly request the reporting you need, for accountability, peace of mind and to supply the information you need to continue to lead the way.
Management accountability can include (but is not limited to): financial management, marketing, administration, human resources / staff management, etc. Clarify what are the decisions that need to be made in each area and who holds that responsibility. At what point do decisions need to be moved up the ladder?
– Financial concerns: To effectively manage you need to know what turnover, gross and net profit is required to achieve the vision. There needs to be a cash flow budget, contingency plans and actual progress to date. Who is responsible for what? What sales or client acquisition targets are required? What turnover? How much expenditure is expected?
While these concepts may not feel relevant to a someone just starting out on their own, exploring these ideas with your managers hat on will help your business become more quickly sustainable and more fun to own. By being accountable you set the bar, and by setting the bar you set your energy and intentions which, in turn, will help you create your ideal business.
– Marketing: Every business markets itself, even if it is just by word of mouth. Whatever your strategies are in this area you need to be clear about how it will help you to achieve your vision. You will also need to consider how much time, money and energy you need to devote to this to ensure your success and what outside support you need. Who makes what $value decision and who has the final say will be some of those considerations.
– Administration: Your administration department is best run with very clear systems in place for data management, record keeping, customer service, etc. It is the manager’s job to make sure these are working efficiently. If you have staff in these areas they may be able to suggest better ways of doing things.
If you are leader, manager and staff all in one, creating these systems is the first step in being able to outsource them, well worth the time it takes to document.
– Staff Management or Human Resources: How can you keep your staff happy and motivated? Communication is essential here. Often little things, like more autonomy and more thanks go a long way. Ownership of outcome is often a great incentive so consider tangible targets and reward systems. And, again if you are a one person band what will keep you loving working for you?
To be honest, many small businesses and self employed people don’t bother to do this. Some people enjoy the chaos of not knowing what is happening next and prioritising by emergency. Some people don’t know how to do it or don’t think it is important. But successful businesses all consider these concepts no matter how big they are.
If you are looking for a more peaceful way of operating that allows the space for growth then start working from the big picture down. It will help you to keep stepping forward with confidence, open to innovation and new opportunities.
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Copyright © 2016 Gay Landeta Create the Life You Want To Live. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be used without the prior written consent from the author.