Positive Direction or Negative Direction – It’s Up To You

October 23, 2018

Day in and day out, the routine for a small business or SME owner can remain the same. Dealing with customers, juggling finances, or listening to employee complaints can get the best of anyone. Nevertheless, owners and managers must remain optimistic and keep the business going in a positive direction regardless of what takes place between the opening and closing hours. 


Business owners and managers should ask themselves the following question. "Is the business run effectively or efficiently?” There is a difference. Being effective is accomplishing something such an intended purpose or goal. In other words, “We got the job done.” Being efficient, on the other hand, is performing the same task in the best possible manner, keeping wasted time and effort to a minimum which equates to bottom line profit. Effective gets the jobs done, but being efficient increases productivity.

For a small business to be really successful, efficiency is a key ingredient. So, if you’re a business owner, practice being efficient rather than simply being effective. And, how is that accomplished?


Keeping a small business consistently on track is no easy task. The approach must be consistent and disciplined. Efficient, lasting results cannot be achieved by taking action on one item today only to ignore the same item tomorrow.

Following-up on details is a must in any business. This holds true for a small business or SME. Although it is easy to get sidetracked when pressed for time, failure to properly follow-up can lead to problems with customers, employees, suppliers, vendors, lenders, or investors. The lack of follow-up can ultimately cause problems in practically any area of a business. Problems hinder productivity. When problems, however, are kept to a minimum, productivity ultimately increases. A move toward progress is to give “follow-up” the importance it deserves. 

Little things amount to big things in business. While little things might seem unimportant to a business owner, those same little things can be quite big to customers, employees, and others involved with a business. Business owners can become so focused on just one aspect of their business that they lose sight of the big picture and what is important to others. When tunnel vision develops, that tunnel can turn into a gateway for future problems.

A good practice for a business owner is to change imaginary places with a person or company that the owner is doing business with and ask a few simple questions. What would you like about your business if you were a customer? What would you dislike about your business if you were a customer? What would make you go to the competition if you were a customer? Why do I like working here if you were an employee? Why would you look for another job if you were an employee? What is it that I don’t see in my business that others see? Business owners need to make sure they see what customers and employees see and feel.


Every business of any type operates with some processes and/or procedures. If each is handled the same way every time, then optimum performance and efficiency is achieved. After thorough testing knowing what produces the best results, the processes and procedures should be written, followed, reviewed, and revised when necessary. Every employee, regardless of whom is performing a particular task, should perform it the same way every time. This standardization leads to operational efficiency and is excellent for training new employees and cross-training current employees. When one employee is absent, another is ready to take over with little productivity lost in the process.


Owners must set examples for employees to follow. Strong work ethics, high moral standards, and a disciplined approach to business demonstrate to employees what is expected behavior while on the job. Owners cannot act one way but expect employees to act another way. “Do as I say, not as I do” is not a motto that motivates employees. Employees imitate the actions of owners and managers. Productivity improves collectively from the top down when strong leadership is demonstrated.

Positive or Negative Direction

Every business is different. Likewise, every business can be driven in either a positive or negative direction. It’s up to owners and managers to set the direction by properly managing their businesses. A positive direction achieves greater results; therefore, a business energized today will see positive results tomorrow.