As a small business owner and entrepreneur, I don’t have to tell you the many challenges you face on a daily basis to keep your operation running smoothly. Often times you find yourself wearing multiple hats – even taking on tasks that you feel should be someone else’s responsibility, but of course even the smallest and most time-consuming duties can ultimately fall on your shoulders.
Since starting my company in 2000, I’ve experienced it all. There are ups and downs, good days and some you’d rather forget, but through it all I wouldn’t give any of it back because it’s made me the successful entrepreneur I am today.
If you’ve recently started a new business, are thinking about starting one or have been at it for many years like I have, here are ten tips that every entrepreneur should consider:
- Use technology. Consider a smartphone, SKYPE, tablet computer or programs that let you file/ share on the run. My days have me running around the city to meet with clients, and I couldn’t do my job without technology. In the instant information age, if you’re not up with the times, your competition is going to blow right by you.
- Hire outside experts as consultants. Don’t keep a heavy payroll which can increase operational costs; consider hiring a consultant for bookkeeping, social media, computer technology and graphic design. I watch as so many small business owners try to do it all themselves, and this ends up causing major aggravation and keeps them from focusing on their own jobs.
- Manage cash flow. Watch your income on a daily basis until you fully understand the revenue and expenses; make sure your bookkeeper is your partner and does not just tell you “everything is handled.” know how to review QuickBooks and feel free to ask questions, as it is your money.
- Delegate. Assign a task and don’t micromanage; allow your team to rise to the highest potential and if they cannot handle it, then take time to understand why or make a transition. Encourage team members to interact with one another and go to each other for help.
- Communicate. Make sure that you have conversations with your team on a regular basis that outline your goals, and ensure that you have buy-in and dialogue so your ideas are refined and can be executed efficiently without micro-management. Encouraging an open line of communications with team members is also vital to the success of your business. Your marketing person should be able to easily approach your technology person so the operation runs like a well-oiled machine.
- Organize. Have a plan, coordinate a schedule, ensure you know the budget and outline details before you start a project so that you can allocate your time properly. As bits and pieces of various projects start to take shape, make sure everything is in its place and that everyone knows where every item on every given project can be found. You don’t want a client calling with an important question, and your employees don’t know how to find the solution.
- Review email only 3 times a day. Do not make email redirect your day unless it is a crisis in progress. Check your email when you arrive at 9:00am, at noon and at 3pm and try to respond immediately to those things that are easy, while saving those items requiring more thought. Delete ads/spam immediately so it is not clogging up your mailbox and request to be removed from emails that are not important.
- Manage the supply closet. Until I put a lock on the cabinet, we were spending 3 times the amount for office supplies – and I learned later that some people were using our supplies for their home offices or school supplies. It is an easy cost center that can get away from you costing thousands of dollars annually.
- Manage your meetings and calls. Always give yourself a chance to breathe between calls or meetings – at least 15-30 minutes so that you can collect your thoughts and maintain a sharp focus. Try to make time for lunch every day. Even just 20 minutes away from the office can clear your mind and get you ready to focus on the second half of the day.
- Dress comfortably. For women, wear heels to meetings but feel comfortable wearing flats around the office most of the day, as your comfort may help maintain your focus. Consider a more business casual dress code as this will keep your employees more comfortable, and only require dressier attire when important clients are coming into the office.
Robin Wilson is CEO of Robin Wilson Home, a recognized eco-friendly designer and licensed lifestyle brand. Robin was named a top 50 power woman in New York City by the New York Post, and her celebrity list of clients include Bill Clinton and Robert Kennedy Jr. Robin is an Ambassador for The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and has a hypoallergenic bedding line available at
BedBathBeyond.com. For more information, visit her website.