The conditions that morph into gut-wrenching money problems and create further operational breakdowns are weak or insufficient systems for:
When public companies face challenges, they dedicate millions to consultants and taskforces, quickly addressing problems and getting back on track. When small businesses need help, there are few process improvement experts that have the skills to assist the business in addressing these foundational needs.
There are plenty of marketing resources, CPAs, HR experts, coaches and consultants for specific problems that need fixing in a closely managed business. However, few experts have the reputation and perspective, plus enough skills and experience to fix the whole operation.
Every business has problems, but many can be addressed before they disrupt the organization. Typically, privately held companies operate in a reactive environment dealing with problems as they occur. Many times, they address the same problems over and over because we don’t make policies to eliminate them. The daily rapid-fire succession of in-coming demands, many requiring snap judgements and unsettling after-thoughts, redundantly soak-up much more time than necessary.
Are your competitors, both locally and around the country, holding their own? If they are, your business certainly can do at least as well as these others are doing. And, likely could do much better if all your internal process were operating at peak potential. Making your business more proactive takes a different approach than addressing chronic troubles when they happen. If you’re tired of not operating under control, do what every franchise in America is required to do, create a robust Operations Manual. This labor and frustration saving tool requires a template, plus time, perspective and guidance.
Don’t be like so many business leaders that keep their entire operations in their heads, start creating a more robust platform right away. Optimizing systems, operating under control, having a sustainable flow of interested prospects and recurring customers, plus a workforce that is invested in the future, is what provides a business owner with more creative time, options and opportunities.
Operational sustainability requires detailed procedures and employee buy-in. Operating under control means being a better leader by communicating your objectives, reinforcing them every single day and posting metrics for all to see.
At the start, you’ll still experience tactical problems that require an immediate solution. Handle them like you always have except, once fixed add the matter to a snags list alongside the solution and store the solution under the proper heading in your new operations manual.
Operational processes include business development, operational efficiency, culture shift, and a progressive leadership function. Take the time to evaluate each platform, enlist the key players on your team and meet regularly on the most pressing topics. If it’s finding more customers, do a competitor evaluation then challenge your people on ways to improve your offering.
Look at the culture in your company. Do you regularly evaluate your employees with reviews and ideas for improvement? Does your staff really understand the goals you have for the company, how growth will take place, and what each employee’s role is in getting to your objectives? Look at absenteeism and turnover to determine why you might be losing your better players.
Find ways to optimize your operations. This includes better internal communications and interdepartmental relations. If you make stuff, find ways to do it faster, better or less expensively. If you provide services, update your protocols and customer interface to assure a satisfactory experience by all customers, every time.
Finally, examine your role. Are you a facilitator or tyrant? You may be the business expert in one or more areas of the company, but your first responsibility is to be an effective leader. Communicating goals, mentoring the team and creating a platform for operational efficiency are your core responsibilities.
Do you know a company with an afterhours sports team? On the field everyone wants to win, right? Well, a good coach can bring winning inspiration to make that winning perspective happen every day. Now, consider how you can imbed that winning spirit at 9AM every day instead of afterhours at your company.
While it doesn’t happen overnight, becoming a better leader will begin to get everyone to fully embrace your business objectives and understand their individual role in contributing to the overall goals of the organization. Being led is what employees want, they want purpose and need to experience winning. When they feel the connection, they will stretch their abilities and do more to contribute.
The foundation of it all is a proactive operating platform. You won’t have to mitigate recurring problems since the granular details in your operations manual will reflect every detail in every process. Every business can do better, most can do 20% better next year with the right direction and training.
Consider the fact that implementing change in a functioning company usually requires skills that do not reside within that organization.
Please Note: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Morris County Chamber of Commerce.
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