The Business of Running Your Business

The components of a business are many and can be very hard to manage. It’s not necessarily challenging because you don’t know how to get your company started – which includes choosing a company name, registering it (DBA), creating your brand material (i.e., business cards, logo, mission statement), getting office tools (equipment, software, etc.), and letting people know about your product and/or service.  But when business growth starts rearing its inevitable head (think positively!), you need to learn how to efficiently manage the areas of your business.

As a business owner, you are on the go, meeting deadlines, working with vendors, finding new business and running all over the place!  Yet, you may discover that you are not really RUNNING your business. That’s right…many business owners aren’t really running their businesses. Why?  Simply put: People FORGET that to have a business, operating it makes it so.

Merriam Webster has what I think is a perfect definition for business operations: “performance of a practical work or of something involving the practical application of principles or processes.” Emphasis on the word processes. Entrepreneurs can often get so caught up in providing their service or product, that they forget the daily processes that are necessary to truly function as a business.  Daily operations such as administration, finance and human resources are just a few of the business areas that need to function well.

Too often, business owners believe that if they personally take just 10 or more (or less) hours a month to handle operations, their businesses will flourish. However, the “back office” work you try to squeeze in may stifle business growth, create work burnout and stress, and compromise your revenue, risking your business’s success.

As an operations consultant that specializes in office systems and infrastructure, I have had the opportunity to meet many small business owners that work hard and have a passion for what they do. At the same time, many don’t know what’s in their bank accounts, haven’t created a budget, a manual with policies and procedures to help them with office efficiency and functionality, and haven’t hired anyone to help them navigate it all.

Operations is vital to the lifeline of every company.  Otherwise, it doesn’t survive…period.  Publications such as Forbes, Inc. and others have written countless articles about the high percentage of startups failing in the first year. Throughout the years, the percentages may have deviated slightly, but the lack of running the operations of a business has been one of the primary factors.

Take a good look at every area of your business. Ask the hard questions, including “Am I running my company for long-term success or a temporary result? Do I have the right tools, procedures and policies in place to create business growth or am I only keeping it afloat day by day?  Will what I do to run my business now take me to five, 10, 15 or more years of success and sustainability, or am I on the brink of failure? Running a business can be complicated, but if you build it with a strong operational foundation, the odds in the long term will be positive.

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