Be Different: Avoid These Business Missteps

April 17, 2018

Owners and managers of small businesses and SMEs work hard running their respective businesses, trying to satisfy customers, and motivating employees. They make critical decisions every day that affect current and future operations. 

Unfortunately with so much to do, many owners make the following missteps along the way:

Changing priorities - One minute an owner might tell employees one thing and the next minute might say something to the contrary. Shifting priorities confuses and frustrates everyone. It is difficult for employees to invest time and energy into a project that is immediately dropped for another option. Certainly, priorities can change in a small business, but it is imperative for owners and managers to clearly articulate objectives of a project and stick with it until completed before moving on to something else. Consistency is a key in developing employee commitment.

Little communication – When an owner or manager is busy, it is so easy to forget to communicate with employees about what is going on in the business…currently and plans for the future. No one enjoys being uninformed and this is especially true when it comes to employees. An informed workforce is a productive workforce. Communicate with employees on important issues. Have an open-door policy. Employees want the opportunity to speak at times with owners and managers without feeling they are being disruptive.

Failure to delegate – It is an all too common philosophy among small business owners that it is easier and more efficient to personally do a task rather than have an employee do it. While true at times, performing tasks that can and should be handled by employees gives the impression that the owner has no faith in the abilities of others. Owners should concentrate on leadership and focus on higher-level tasks. Training and delegation are keys to efficiency that owners and managers must practice.

Constant oversight– While some owners fail to delegate, others keep a constant watch overseeing and shadowing employees. Although supervision is a must, constant oversight shows a lack of confidence and trust in employees. It also triggers performance anxiety, which eventually can lead to poor work quality. Quiet observation is usually a more prudent course of action. Comments and suggestions should be made in private with a positive tone of constructive criticism and motivation. Employees love the opportunity to offer their feedback, as well. 

Financial Mismanagement – Along with the normal demands of operating a small business or SME, strong financial management is a necessity. Paying attention to cash inflows and outflows, expenses, due date of bills, rent, and payroll cannot be forgotten in lieu of daily operations. All facets of a business are important but without cash and proper financial management and oversight, the long-term growth and success of a business will be hampered. This important function cannot be left strictly to others. Owners must be proactive when it comes to financial management.

Lack of planning – Planning is a necessary ingredient for success in any size business. Although the demands of today are real and take time, planning for the future is the roadmap to success. A business goal to increase sales, create market awareness, improve customer service, or gain more website visitors is nothing more than a wish if there is not a plan to achieve specific goals.

Business growth and success are achieved by making constant improvements in operations…daily, weekly, monthly. Consider how the above missteps can be overcome leading to improved operations and, ultimately, net profit.