- How much progress have you made?
- Is your business well established?
- How strong is your business base?
- Are you in a position to consider growth?
Surviving start up
- What are the most common causes of business failure in the first stages of a business?
- How will these be avoided?
Business direction and strategy
- Do you really know what your business is good at?
- Do you have a good idea of where you want to be in three years’ time?
- Do you know if you’re doing well enough to get there?
Customers and markets
- Do you know who your customers are?
- Do you know why your customers buy from you?
- Do you know where new business will come from?
- Can you sell?
- Do you know the difference between cash and profit?
- Do you keep the right type of information systems?
- Is your pricing policy right?
- Is your business making a profit?
- How well do you control your debts?
Managing your resources
- How well do you manage your time?
- How efficiently do you use your equipment?
- Do you carry the right level of stock?
- How well do you manage the production of your business?
- Do you know how your business affects the environment?
Managing your business relationships
- Do you know who influences your business?
- Do you provide them with information?
- Do they know enough about your business?
- Are they on your side?
Where to next?
- Is your business strong enough to consider growth?
- How fast should you grow?
- How should growth be financed?
Management – People Problems
Failure to train employees properly.
- Not all problems with people are related to personality. In fact, most problems that small businesses must face relate to the inability of the business to train employees for the tasks for which they are to be responsible.
- There is a major difference here in the capabilities of large and small organizations. Large organizations generally have a formalized training structure in place for new hires. Small organizations generally rely on on-the-job training carried out by individuals who themselves have been poorly trained and thus are in no position to train anyone else.
- Business is transacted by people. If the people who work for the business are poorly trained it will always reflect negatively on the bottom line.
- It is critical that new employee training be carried out by people who are both knowledgeable in the subject matter of the training and capable of training effectively. If no employees meet these criteria, then a trainer or trainers must be brought in from the outside.
- Poorly trained employees create more problems than just errors in their work product. They also become a drain on morale and can create problems with other employees, customers and vendors.
Failure to appreciate the contributions of employees.
- It is not uncommon for employees of small businesses to feel unappreciated. Larger organizations have structures in place to recognize employee achievements and are better able to reward outstanding efforts financially.
- Small businesses make a number of mistakes in this area. Some examples are:
- Treating employees as though they are easily replaceable.
- Failure to provide reasonable benefits.
- Little or no recognition of outstanding accomplishments.
- Failure to respect the value of employees’ time.
- Failure to ask for and respect employees’ opinions.
- Entrepreneurs sometimes treat employees like they are family, and this is generally a good thing. It can become a negative, however. People generally expect their families to help them out to the greatest extent possible while expecting little or nothing in return. They do it because they are family. Your employees will never BE family. They need more appreciation and recognition than family will ever need.
- Employees are the life-blood of any business organization. It is critical that employees feel like they are part of the team, are respected, and are well compensated, and that their efforts are truly appreciated by the owners. Small businesses that look at employment costs first when seeking to control or reduce expenses are making a mistake that can be deadly.