Recently, while visiting a friend’s office, he began to tell me his business was a mess. It wasn’t fun anymore. “The problem with this business,” he said, “is that the manager (ME) is the worst person for the job. I have no training in management. My partner just wants to come to work, do his job and leave the management chores to me. Frankly, I don’t have any great desire to be the boss, either. Personnel problems, cash problems, meeting sales quotas –I do it all. It’s everyday and it’s a drag.”
Sound familiar? You have a lot of company. In every business, however, “somebody” has to be the boss. You may not have the training, the desire or the patience but you have the job. Is there any way to make it less painful?
YES! First recognize that every business is in two businesses. You do what you do –plumb, build, sell, manufacture, etc.– that’s your first business. Your customers ultimately decide how well you practice this business by the sales they give you. If you serve their needs, you continue to get their support. If you don’t give them what they want, they won’t support you, you won’t long have a business to worry about.
Your second business is the business of staying in business. You may be great at what you do, but if you fail to run your business properly, you can run yourself out of business –FAST. This is my friend’s problem. He feels overwhelmed by “being in business.”
Being in business, though, doesn’t have to be stressful and draining. Here are three strategies you can use to help you be a better manager of your business:
(1) Start by thinking through why you are in business. If you haven’t already, write down your clear business goals with a deadline for their attainment and write them in terms of results. Write down what you have to do to meet your goals.
For example: Use Post It (TM) Notes to list each step of how your work flows, starting with getting prospects and ending with getting paid. What paperwork do you have to generate? How many sales calls have to be made? What are your production quotas? What controls are needed?, Etc.
(2) Let your people know (in writing) what is expected of them in terms of results and deadlines. Agree with your partner, if you have one, what you can expect from one another. Don’t leave any gaps in your expectations. Measure every action and person in the business against those goals. Do not tolerate any action inconsistent with the goals.
(3) In terms of day-to-day management skills, rely on good old common sense. If an action doesn’t meet a common sense test, it is probably bad management theory, as well. Always keep in mind that when the workflow flows and your policies and procedures are working and when people know what they are supposed to do and are allowed to do it, there is very little need for additional management.
You will still need to be the manager –when things don’t work. But if your company’s goals are clearly stated, and everybody is pulling in one direction, that won’t happen often. And isn’t that the kind of management you for that matter, can live with.