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Five Vital Small Business Strategies
by Carolyn Stoll Fri, 12/09/2011 - 11:38
With a thunderstorm of different economic problems raining down on any small business owner, it can be tougher than ever for your business to survive. The question I get most often is "How can I better my circumstance?" To be short and sweet, you have to take things one step at a time, be brutally honest, know your limits, keep a positive attitude, and simplify the business equation.
Before you can start doing anything you have to be able to make a plan and understand how to implement it. Create a schedule, set expectations for yourself and take things one step at a time. By breaking things down into daily goals rather than worrying constantly about the future will ensure that you are accomplishing something positive, however small, to turn things around. This can sometimes be one of the hardest things to do, especially if you are one who is easily steered off track and pulled in several directions. Prioritize with one goal each day, remember, the turtle always wins.
Being able to remain truthful, as well as realistic, is the best thing for your employees. Be honest with yourself and focus on what needs to be done, even if it means making layoffs or cutbacks. More often than not, your employees know when things are going south. You must be able to read them clearly and address your areas of concern while showing confidence in yourself and in them, clearly communicating your plan so they can get on board and become excited about the future. Discouragement and worry can spread throughout your company like a virus.
Knowing your limits can mean multiple things, but in this case it means that you have to stay realistic. Taking chances when you are near failure as a business can prove even more costly than the place you are already in. Sometimes you just have to accept your losses and move on. For example, if you've launched a product and are seeing no return on investment, it may be a better solution to call it quits than to continue to invest your time and money. Knowing when to change directions and accepting what you can and cannot do are keys to being successful. Many an entrepreneur have thought they could achieve greatness and in the process taken on more than they could chew. Slow down and do only what you can actually handle.
Keep a positive attitude, stay refreshed and remain enthusiastic. Motivational triggers play a key part in being productive. Discover what yours are, sometimes it may be something as simple as taking a walk outside or writing your thoughts down on paper. Going through tough economic times can create stress that we can all relate to. Losing faith in what are doing, and being skeptical of every business decision you make, can be just as unsettling for yourself as it can be for your business. Once you make a resolution, remain confident in your decision, but not to the point when you no longer acknowledge your limits.
Simplify the business equation. There are many small yet specific changes that a business owner can consider to help have a clearer, more focused path; the goal being to eliminate tasks that distract you, take up valuable time and drain your mental energy. Software in general can help in this area. Some things as simple as automating invoices and bill paying or investing in CRM (customer relationship management) software can certainly make things easier.
Working with a number of different people to offer and maintain benefits for your employees can be taxing in itself. Communication between your insurance broker, 401K provider, lawyer (to oversee current employment regulations), accountant, (to file and pay taxes), and business or financial advisor can be overwhelming. These administrative tasks can be easily outsourced to a Professional Employer Organization, also known as a PEO. PEO Companies can also relieve you of the burden of payroll which encompasses calculating, paying, withholding, filing, tracking and being in compliance with the ever changing tax laws and regulations.
PEOs make this possible using what some call co-employment. The business owner co-employs their employees with the professional employers organization for tax purposes; the professional employment organization then will add those employees to their pool of employees of other small businesses creating a lower overall cost for the small business to employ their workers. This will allow you to offer your employees all of the services and benefits that a larger company provides, while lowering your costs on insurance, worker's compensation, etc. The PEO will charge you a small percentage of payroll, however it almost always creates a larger gain for the employer, alleviating the load and liability of administrative HR tasks.
Today's market does not resemble the small business friendly environment of past America, as the tough economic times of a few years ago have made business more competitive than ever. Cutbacks and layoffs are evident and job security is in jeopardy. However, almost everyone who knows success knows tough times as well and as the cliché' goes, "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger."
So, as you try to keep your business alive know that you can't make a giant leap all in one motion; you need to take things one step at a time. Being brutally honest can prove more positive than being overconfident or overly optimistic. Knowing your limits of when to call it quits and knowing how much something will cost you before pulling the plug can be painful, but in the end you will be making the right decision. Keeping faith in what you do every day and keeping things in perspective can help you personally as well as your business. Lastly, simplifying your duties by outsourcing tedious and mentally frustrating tasks, such as health benefits, SUTA regulations, payroll and workers compensation, can keep the mind focused and the business direction clear. By following these few tips you can do yourself a favor that will change you only for the better.
About the author
Carolyn Stoll is a frequent contributor to PEOcompare and writes about professional employee organizations and issues that may affect small business. Some of the topics include PEO Insurance, Staff Leasing, and different PEOs such as the PEO Illinois and the PEO California. Her background is in marketing and communications, employee education and training, development of policies and procedures and the ongoing delivery of outstanding service to customers.