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Small business owners veer off course, faulty auto-pilot to blame.

These days you can hardly throw a rock without hitting a news story about the chaotic loss and havoc caused by pilot error. As a small business owner you may think that this only applies to transportation; but as the “Captain” at the helm, it’s important not to leave your business on auto-pilot.

Folks go into business for a wide variety of reasons: they’ve found a niche to fulfill, they want the flexibility of working for themselves, they’ve grown tired of breaking their backs to stuff their employer’s pocket; just to name a few. Being your own boss is great and can be very rewarding. But frequently, the decision to fly solo is made without proper preparations. It may forever be a mystery how some of these businesses experience success initially, but eventually an owner asleep at the wheel will result in undesirable operations at the best and failure of the business at the worst. No, wait; possibly even personal financial ruin of the business owner which would actually be worse than just losing the business. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. If you are a newly minted business owner or are thinking about taking the plunge, consider these essential points:

Understand your finances – It’s easy to ignore the finances so long as the bank balance looks okay, but keeping your head in the sand is a mistake that may end your business. Cash flow is the life blood of any business and proper monitoring of your cash flow will allow you to take quick actions to prevent or at least prepare for a cash situation looming on the horizon. If you have a good head for numbers and basic bookkeeping knowledge invest in some accounting software like QuickBooks to help you keep track of your business finances. If that doesn’t sound like your idea of a fun time, hire a bookkeeping service. Period. End of story. Yes, it is THAT important. Real time bookkeeping gives you the best, most relevant data while it’s still soon enough to make meaningful strategic changes with that information. Get a monthly service if you can’t afford real time (and by can’t afford, I mean foolhardily spent that cash elsewhere). Cut corners on office supplies, rent or company vehicles if you have to, but finding the time or funds to keep on top of your financial situation is your singular most important function as a business owner.

Install systems and processes – While the milk and honey is flowing like gangbusters, it’s easy to just ride the tide down river. But if you are interested in long term success and building a business that can survive even when the honeypot is running low, you’d be wise to implement some processes. A good business consultant can get you up and running with this in no time. If you’re a more hands on type, you can tackle this on your own. Start by tracking all of the functions you are completing in your day to day operations. Then review each of those functions to identify efficiency improvements and write up an SOP (Standard Operating Procedure). The compilation of these SOP’s will become your operating manual. Keep in mind that this is a living document which you will revise as you discover new technologies and better ways to get work done. The added bonus is that your business is now what we call a “trainable” operation, meaning that it’s smooth sailing when you need to expand and add employees to the business.

Learn that IN is different than ON –Working IN your business is not the same as working ON your business. This one is simple in theory, but difficult in practice. While it may seem counterintuitive to divert any of your attention away from the immediate revenue generating benefits of working IN your business, make some time to take advantage of the long term growth benefits of working ON your business (financials, management, advertising, SOP’s).

With the proper education and dedication any business owner can learn the skills needed to keep their business running smoothly. But that’s not why you went into business, is it? Why not focus your efforts where they are best spent and let the professionals at My Staff Your Staff assist you? We specialize in small businesses and make your growth and success our top priority. Don’t let your business flounder on auto-pilot, contact us today to discuss how we can help.

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