The nuts and bolts of running a small business

You know as a business owner how important it is to be clear about what you want to achieve and the reason you’re in business. Actually, it’s crucial!

When you’re not crystal clear of your vision, then your goals and strategies will be difficult to identify and your business operations will become seemingly inconsistent as you become bogged down in the impending haze of lack of clarity.

You probably went into business because you love what you do and you want to provide financial security and freedom for yourself and your family. Just like a house provides security by providing a roof over your head, you work on maintaining it so that it continues to provide the security day in and day out. If you stop maintaining your home, over time you’ll have weeds running wild, broken plumbing, water leaks and more; thus decreasing the security and comfort that you had intended.

The same notion applies to business, it’s there to provide for you and shelter you and your family. Unfortunately, I see so often that regular planning and maintenance is overlooked and it ends up to the detriment of the business. When the small issues become larger issues in small business, a snowballing effect can occur and become overwhelming. Sadly, this is why many businesses fail to operate within just a few years of operating.

Successful businesses have one thing in common; they have a clear vision and a clear understanding of what success looks like for them and the roadmap of how to get there. When you have a strong sense of where you want to go, the next step is to evaluate where you are now so you can plan on how you intend to fill the gaps. It’s important as a business owner to remain aware of the business goals, targets, strategies and financial position, all of which would be covered in a comprehensive business plan.

Once the goals are identified, actions can be delegated and key performance indicators set as a measure to assess whether or not that goal is achieved. Throughout business operations, it’s important to keep honest and open communication to make sure everyone is on the same page and going the same direction.

In making those basics of business clear to you and your team, the process of following the actions to achieve the goals becomes quite a straightforward process. The guesswork is taken out of it and cohesion between all divisions of the business become solidified (whether or not you are a one-person band or have a team working with you). Then, like anything, successful results require regular activities to be performed, taking into account variables along the way. Not dissimilar to a house, a business plan needs to be kept fresh and alive with an up-to-date budget and strategies to keep the momentum going and in peak condition.

There are numerous elements that are vital to running a small business but importantly, clarity, communication and consistency are the backbones to holding everything together. If the foundations are solid, and regular maintenance and assessment is undertaken to keep it up-to-date, it will continue to serve its purpose of keeping you safe and providing for your family.

Suzzanne Laidlaw, business reformer and entrepreneurs’ mentor

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