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Top Ten Rules for Successfully Running a Small Business

(by Thomas J. Leonard)

You have just been in a serious car accident and you will have to be out of the office at least a month. How will your business run while you recover? If you’ve just experienced heart failure over this prospect, the following list is for you. The information below can reduce your stress, increase your business’s productivity and give you the time for the vacation you so richly deserve.

1.       Hire wisely!

 Your business is only as good as each individual employee’s contribution. Therefore, look for the “3 I’s” when you hire: Intelligence, Initiative and Integrity. For every position, from the receptionist to the shipping clerk, hire only the best you can find.

 2.       Build a team, not an ego!

 Many employers let their egos dominate their interactions with their employees. Stop the pattern. Instead trust your employees to do their job. Let all your employees know that they are an integral part of the company’s end product. Set the example for positive interaction at all times between the members of your team, even when their performance must be corrected. Ask yourself every day: What am I doing to make my employees successful?

 3.         Reward good employees well!

 When you find good employees, reward them financially and emotionally. Pay them well but more so, take the time to acknowledge each employee’s contribution. The two biggest loyalty builders are the words “Thank You!”

 4.         Be “hands on”!

 Know each employee’s job and how to do it. This not only gives you a reserve employee and trainer (yourself) but has an added bonus. If you show employees that you are willing to learn their jobs, you are letting them know that you believe that their work has value. You may also find ways of changing the processes if they are too cumbersome or taking too long.

 5.         Encourage your employees to be versatile!

 In a small company, every employee should know how to do at least two jobs, particularly on the technical and service sides. For critical tasks, at least three employees should know how to do each job. Then you always have an on-premise reserve who can step in when needed.

6.         Give away tasks but not ultimate leadership!

 What is it that you do best? Are you the idea man, the best sales man in your company, the organizer? Find your strongest talents and then delegate all other tasks to your employees. Train them to do their jobs, let them know that you have confidence in their ability to perform and then let them do their jobs. At the same time, you must remain in charge.

 7.         Communicate, communicate, communicate – did we mention communicate?

 You must talk with your employees, solicit their suggestions and correct their mistakes in a positive way. Conversely, you must create an atmosphere in which your employees are willing to talk with you. The two best sources of information about your business are your employees and your customers. Pay attention to both.

 8.         Give your best and always encourage the same in your employees!

 Pride in a company and its products or services always begin at the top. If you give a half effort or let a sloppily produced product go out the door, you are sending a message that you do not respect your clients or your work. Your employees will adopt that view as well. On the other hand, if you set the example of giving the extra effort and working as a unit to be the best in the business, your employees will follow your lead.

 9.         Encourage innovation and creation!

 Give your employees a stake in the future. Once a month, have a meeting where the employees make suggestions on how to improve your product, service, efficiency or bottom line. Give monetary rewards when the ideas pay off.

 10.       Have a second in command!

 No general goes into battle without a major who can take over if he is wounded. Find someone you trust within your company who shares your goals, values, ideals and business style. Train that person appropriately. Let others know that your “major” has your confidence and authority when you are gone. When that is done, go on vacation and test the theory out. If you have completed steps 1 to 9, your business will run easily and well and you will have regained a healthy balance in your life.

 

If you are a business owner that wants to get out of a rut and become successful, contact Strateja & MerHan Associates by phone at (503) 639-2727 or by e-mail hannes.geiger@strateja.com.

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