You have reached a point in your life where you are ready to go into business for yourself. Perhaps you have seen a need in your industry which isn’t being met, or maybe you are just ready to move onwards and upwards with your life. In any event, running your own company brings with it other challenges than you have ever had to face. Following is some much needed advice on key areas of business management every entrepreneur should be familiar with so as to be ready to face those challenges.
1. Managing Finances and Funding
It has been said that managing finances can be the most difficult task a new entrepreneur can tackle. It is not easy to keep a positive cash flow with so many demands being made on the bit of startup capital most new businesses begin with. Not only will you be responsible for managing cash on hand, but you will also be tasked with finding new sources of funding when necessary. Bearing in mind that it will take as long as 12 to 24 months to actually begin seeing a profit, it pays to keep a tight rein on the cash you have. Staying in a positive cash flow means staying in business. That’s one of the main lessons to learn for any entrepreneur.
2. Tracking Assets and Resources
Many startups have difficulty understanding just how important it is to keep track of any assets and resources they have. This includes more than that bank account you rely on. Assets could be any equipment or property that has cash value. It can also mean the people who work with and for you. Those who are in key positions and leading you toward growth are assets in more ways than you know. However, any property you hold is also a valuable asset because you can often procure funding with those as collateral.
3. Empowering Employees to Excel
No matter what kind of business you are running and what kind of product or service you are producing, it is important to understand just how great an asset those key employees are and can be going forward. One of the best things you can do as an entrepreneur is to give others the ability to excel in their field. Not only will your business benefit from it in the here and now, but going forward you will benefit as that employee grows and becomes an even greater asset to your company. Remember those assets mentioned above? Employees can, believe it or not, be your greatest assets.
4. Embracing Diversity
One thing you will learn when recognising the potential in team members is that we live in a diverse world. You will have staff and team members from all ethnic backgrounds, all levels of training and from all walks of life. It is often advised that new entrepreneurs take a diversity training course. Not only will this help you to better appreciate the work and efforts of others but it will help you to lead them to be all that they can be. Also, you will soon learn that every peer and customer or client you deal with is going to be from a background just as diverse as those of your team. Your employees and clients are two of your most important assets, so it’s time to appreciate all that they are and all that they have to offer in terms of business growth.
4. The Art of Prioritisation
There will be days when you will be overwhelmed with things to do and expectations being laid on your desk. Don’t fall prey to making rash decisions because there is so much to do and so little time. In learning to prioritise, you will be able to quickly make an orderly plan to get things done. For example, one of the toilets in the restroom keeps running but the maintenance crew is also being called to fix a broken banister on the steps heading up to your office from the outside. Choosing which is more immediate should be a simple process. The toilet, unless it is overflowing, is doing nothing but using more water while that broken banister can cause someone to lean and fall, sustaining injuries. These are just examples of the kinds of things you will be called upon to prioritise in the course of a day, but it helps to take a step back and quickly assess the immediacy before making a decision.
5. Staying on Task Through Interruptions
Then there are those times when someone will come rushing into your office with those constantly running toilets or broken banisters when you are in the middle of submitting a bid for a large contract you hope to win. Unless you learn to work through interruptions, you will be set back hours, if not days when returning to the task at hand. What many owners and directors suggest you do is make a policy that unless it is a life and death emergency, you are not to be interrupted. You can post a Do Not Disturb sign on your office door, lock it, or instruct your administrative assistant to keep everyone and all phone calls on hold. However you handle it, there will be times when you will be interrupted, so it is imperative to stay on task or learn how to set a mental ‘place holder’ to get back at it without losing momentum.
6. How to Delegate
Once you’ve empowered your staff towards personal and business growth, it’s time to learn to let go. It’s time to learn to delegate. You’ve empowered them to be the best they can in both their personal and business life so let them take some of the responsibilities off your shoulders. Give them increasing levels of responsibility and leadership. Watch how they blossom under your tutelage. Not only will your load be lighter, but you will be raising up the next generation of leaders you can entrust your business duties to as you expand and grow.
7. Sales and Marketing
Even if you hire a marketing team and an outsourced sales team, you will still need to have a solid understanding of marketing and sales. There are literally a million and one marketing firms out there in all sizes and shapes, and unless you understand the basic principles of marketing and are able to explain your market, your efforts and investment may be for nothing. You know your market. You know your clientele and you know your products or services. That’s something even the best marketing teams may not have a solid grasp on, so take that as a starting place. Learn the basics of marketing and then choose your marketing team based on what you think they can bring to the table.
Yes, there is much to learn as a new entrepreneur, but remember that other old cliché, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day’. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and make every day and every experience an opportunity to learn. Diversity training, basic marketing and communications are all areas you may wish to explore taking courses in, but at the end of the day you will reap the benefits of all that you put into it. A little effort and some training goes a very long way. Good luck on your new endeavour. May you reap all the rewards you’ve worked so hard to accomplish.