Some Additional Things To Think About When Starting Or Running A Small Or Large Business
It's All In The Details And There Are A Lot Of Details
In addition to the tips I shared in my last hub "tips for running or starting a small business", I want to add some additional insights I learned and then practiced during my business career that turned out to be very helpful.
1) GET AND THEN MAINTAIN ALIGNMENT
The main reason entire businesses fail or parts of a business don't work very well (like managing and maintaining employees) is because something is out of alignment. Agreements and expectations that were made, understood and agreed to by the various partners in the business at one point can change and when they do you're not aligned and destined to fail. For example, let's say you hire an employee and you are clear about what's expected for them to be successful in your business and they verbally agree. But then several months done the line the employee decides they don't agree with your expectations (like greeting every customer that comes into your establishment) and they stop doing whatever it is you expect and start making their own decisions. This lack of alignment, this "not on the same page" mentality can and will keep your business from being successful. And it's not just in business that alignment is important. Any agreement or understanding that is not working is probably because there is either a lack of established alignment or alignment that has changed. It is critical to establish and then regularly check up to ensure alignment exists and is maintained. "Inspect What You Expect", is a business philosophy that is very important if your business is to achieve the goals you've set.
2) WORRY ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL, THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN INFLUENCE AND DON'T THINK ABOUT ANYTHING ELSE
Unfortunately most of us spend a lot of our precious time thinking and worrying about things we can't control or even influence. We worry about the over-all economic situation of the country and the world, the barrel price of oil, the situation in Europe and how that will affect the cost of food. All things that while important are not within our control or influence. And in business we worry about the over-all economic condition of the city we do business in or the competition that may be coming in a few miles away in another development that hasn't even been built yet or the weather conditions that might be coming and how that will affect our business. Again, while all these issues can certainly have an affect on our business in the long term, they are not directly within our control or influence. What we should be worried about is the things we can control and influence. Like the quality and supervision of our employees, the quality and price of our product or service, the service levels we provide our customers and the development of those customers into long term clients, the money we spend on marketing and the business we generate from that marketing, the ways we can improve our over-all bottom line and if the weather is going to be bad how can we over-come it and still do business. All things that we can directly control or at least influence and all things that if we don't worry or think about can most definitely keep us from being successful.
3)KNOW YOUR COMPETITION AS WELL AS YOU KNOW YOURSELF
In business it's critical to completely understand who your competition is and what they do that separates them from you and you from them. The more you know about your competition, no matter who they are, the better able you are to know what it is that you have that they don't or what they have that you should. Knowing all there is to know about your competition and ensuring that everyone in your business does the same thing, allows you to respond to your customers questions about the differences and why they should shop or do business with you instead of them. Knowledge is power and knowing your competition gives you knowledge that makes you very powerful.