Let’s Talk Business

Entrepreneurs — whether they’re an unemployed person striking out on their own or a seasoned veteran trying to get the mojo back again, we all must do things differently in order to survive. Everyone must change, especially small-business owners. Whilst some customers are loosening up their wallets a little, it is clear that purchasing habits have changed. Major economic changes have occurred over the past decade, and business will never be the same. Luckily that what has not changed are the business fundamentals, such as successful management traits that almost all entrepreneurs possess: tenacity, commitment and vision, and basic business skills. New strategies are required, however, which may be designed to work in a changing business climate.

Here are seven tips that will help your business on the path to success:

1. Have a written plan. Without a plan, it is merely a dream. It does not have to be a book, but you need a few pages outlining specific objectives, strategies, financing, a sales and marketing plan, and a determination of the cash you need to get things done.

2. Don’t marry your plan. Sometimes, the best-laid plan has to be thrown in the fire. Adjust, confront and conquer.

3. Listen to others, don’t let your ego get in the way. Advisors are crucial because you need people to bounce ideas off, inspect what you are doing, to push you to greater accomplishments, and to ultimately holding you accountable for what you are committing to do. Always be good to your word, and follow through on commitments, even when difficult and challenging. This is not about you; it’s about the business. Try to not take things personally, and do not let your ego take control.

4. Keep track of numbers. Create written systems for everything, because you will reap benefits from them later on. This is how you train your employees and retain consistency. Know your numbers and check them daily — make all decisions based on what they tell you. One of the most important calculations is cash flow. Determine how much cash you need to do the business, and do not start without the required cash on hand.

5. Delegate to employees and avoid micromanaging them. A manager’s job is to delegate and then inspect progress. So try to not be a control freak. Keep business organisation flat. Try having a written training and orientation plan, so your employees know what is required of them. You may even want to consider using an incentive-based rewards system, and maintain a no-problem attitude about issues that crop up.

6. Use the Internet. It is cost efficient and a powerful platform to use, yet it takes time and some skill. Remember, it is about creating a community. Using social media and networking with others on platforms such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or even blogging, helps you to build an online presence. You need to get on the train and do it, because your competitors are.

7. Reinvent your business. It is net profit, not gross revenue that you want to focus on. Be a little different and try creating a new competitive advantage, be it a focused niche or super service, but not by discounting. Above all, have fun.

Managing this business effectively may be tricky at times, though it can be done. You can survive, emerge, and succeed, if you follow the right path.