Managing a business is no mean feat – it requires sacrifice, dedication, innovation and drive.
There are more than 2.17 million actively trading businesses according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an increase of 2.4 per cent from June 2015.
This increase was primarily driven by growth in small businesses, which account for 97 per cent of all businesses in Australia, but it’s not all good news – the ABS found more than 60 per cent of small businesses shut their doors within their first three years.
So what’s the secret to managing the curve balls thrown at you while running a business? It’s all about leadership, thinking ahead and managing change – read on to find out more.
Fine-tune your decision-making process
It may seem obvious, but there’s more to decision making than meets the eye – especially in situations where decisions must be made quickly.
Ensure that it’s clear-cut in your business who will need to make decisions and under what circumstances – that way, your staff are enabled to make the right decision when they’re under the pump.
Retail consultant Bob Phibbs says decision-making is one of the most important facets of owning a business.
“Making the right decision rapidly without making mistakes means evaluating information to weed through what is important and what isn’t. Don’t look at a situation over and over without making a decision – right or wrong – or you’ll lose sleep and probably lots of opportunities,” he said.
While we all wish we had a crystal ball to see what the future holds for us, it’s not quite that easy – but it’s still important to plan for your business.
This includes thinking about where your business needs to be in a few years’ time – whether it be one, three, five, or all the above. No one goes into starting a new business without a plan – it’s a waste of valuable time and money otherwise!
The next step is thinking about what you need to do to get there – if current trends change in a few years’ time, how can you diversify? What change can you implement to lessen the impact of changes in your industry?
Steve Wood, Director of The Temporary Fence Shop, said looking ahead was vital.
“It was important for us to look at how we would benchmark our performance in the years ahead, and how we could adapt and improve our products. For us, planning ahead meant a willingness to improve our efficiency to keep our prices low, being able to produce quality products at the lowest price, and an in-depth understanding of the industries we operate in. This means if trends or legislation do change somewhere down the line, we’ll be equipped to handle that change as a business,” he said.
Be a leader, and empower your people
Karen James is a former Commonwealth Bank executive and is now an author, speaker and founder of the On Purpose Hub.
Her book On Purpose shows how to give an organisation purpose through leadership, operations and technology – what she refers to as LOT.
“If you are going to lead people, sign up to know that it is a difficult job. Wake up every day and say, ‘I am a leader, I have to be relentless’. In today’s world, everyone has to believe they are a leader because the best thinking is coming from the edges of the organisation, not the leaders. You have to create a leadership mindset in everyone,” she writes.
Figure out what level of customer service will work for your business
Shoes of Prey was founded by Michael Fox, Jodie Fox and Mike Knapp in Sydney in 2009 and has grown into a multi-million dollar business thanks to the unique idea of allowing women to design their own shoes.
Fox said ones of the most important steps in the early days of Shoes of Prey was deciding on the level of customer service the business would offer.
“(It) comes down to the type of product, what you’re offering to the market and the reason you’re giving customers to buy your product rather than your competitors. For a business like Shoes of Prey, where we aim to differentiate and wow our customers based on our customer service, treating customer service as a marketing cost where the return on investment should be maximised rather than costs minimised is a better approach,” he said.
Manage change to ensure your staff are on board
Change is a part of life – but it’s especially a part of managing a business.
The key to managing change is making the necessary adjustments before you are forced to do so – this gives you the chance to create new opportunities.
However, despite new opportunities, change can be difficult for employees, who may see it as interfering with their routine and taking them out of their comfort zone.
Writing for the Australian Institute of Business, Simone Ball said managing change meant starting with the end in mind.
“Make plans according to your overall goals, and ensure that all staff are also able to see exactly where an organisation is heading throughout a change process. A solid direction makes employees more likely to accept and embrace changes,” she said.
It’s not an easy feat to turn a business into a success nationwide but with perseverance and the right advice, it can be done. And it can be done well.