There is a lot that goes into small business ownership, and not all of it is pretty or dramatic. No matter what industry you go into, you need to always ensure you have the right tools at your disposal to prepare yourself and your business for whatever hardships may come. Some of those hardships will be external, such as changes in the economy, but it is those internal problems like miscommunication that can really doom you.
From the tedium of paperwork to the numbing work of manning a storefront, there is no cutting corner. Hard work and diligence are required if you want to run your own business, and no amount of good luck can save you from incompetence. But there are plenty of things you can do to ensure that what you want to happen, does actually happen.
The first thing you can do is check all the regulations and legislation about running a business that your city has. Getting in trouble with the law is costly, and if you are just starting, you do not want to incur any unnecessary expenses. That is why you should always do deep research into what you are planning.
Do not simply skin over the front page of Google, either. Smart research involves digging through various websites, usually with a gov suffix attached, to find how your business might be impacted by certain decisions you make. You should not rely on blogs or opinion pieces, as they may contain information that is outdated or else blatantly false.
Even beyond – and including – knowing the laws of your locale, there is also the issue of what your business actually is to consider. Different types of businesses have different regulations and protocols and knowing how your desired industry functions is always a good idea. Managing a restaurant like a retail store is not good decision-making.
You should also look into the tax code for small businesses. There are many different tax codes, both local, state, and federal, and mixing them up could be a critical failure. This document has the codes for each industry, so you can look up and file your business’s taxes correctly. Without following this step, you will find trouble with the IRS, which is never good.
Finally, look into trends in your field of work. See how stores like yours tend to function and find the more successful qualities of businesses that you want to emulate while avoiding the flaws they may have fallen into. Do not let arrogance blind you to the fact you are a small business in a world where corporations rule; you need to take every advantage you can get, without exploiting your employees or customers, of course.
Internal Problems and How to Avoid Them
More than anything else, communication is key. Conflict is not always a bad thing! You can debate how to go about overseeing certain situations, but do not discount the ideas of those “lower” on the ladder than you. Even as the boss, your employees may have ideas that you will want to follow, and that is very desirable.
That being said, there are plenty of things that can go wrong when working with groups of individuals with different ideas and mindsets. Here are some of my personal tips for avoiding or mitigating any irreparable damage in your company’s clime.
First: The customer is not always right. In quite a few fields, this tip is useless. Even if you think serving a double-shot macchiato with five pumps of water is a bad idea, the customer has the right to order whatever stupid drink you serve, so long as it is on the menu. On the other hand, if the customer then complains that they got something stupid after ordering something stupid, it is better to side with the employee than the customer.
The idea behind this is that the employee is someone you should keep happy, while the customer is not. This may seem backward, but one of them works in your company and can cause major disruption if dissatisfied, while the other is probably lost business anyway. And if you are afraid that a negative review will drag your company down, do not be. Customers know when other customers suck; if your business is good, then the good customers will stick around.
Second: Be reasonable. In many ways, this is open-ended advice. Did your employee make a small mistake? Do not yell at them like a lunatic. That is just a good way to lose employees.
You should also know when to be strict. If your employee is slacking off in a way that actively detracts from your business’s profits, then tell them off gently at first, then sternly second, and warningly last. Even if you want to keep your employees happy, you do still need to make a profit, and bad employees who harm your efforts are not worth keeping around.
Be reasonable with your attitude, but also be reasonable with your pricing, and your pay. Whatever you are selling, be it goods or services, do not expect to get much traffic if you charge too much, and do not expect to keep employees if they do not make enough.
Finally: Keep communicating. As I said earlier, communication is key. There are plenty of tools, such as the upcoming Teamly, that can help with this. Keep an open mind and accept ideas and valid criticism! This might be what improves your business when you most need it.
At the end of the day, this is your business, but it is also the business of your employees and customers. You are not alone, but that also means you need to consider others. Understand this, and you should have no problems thriving.
This is a world in which business can boom. From the ground up, you can construct whatever you like, so long as you are smart about it. Making informed decisions with forethought in mind is the key to success, so go be successful! I hope this article helps, and I look forward to seeing what you can do.