What does versatility mean to you? It’s often defined as being multi-skilled or multi-talented, but it means so much more for a business just trying to get its feet off the ground.
Entrepreneurs should be versatile not only in what they do, but also in how they think. Startup teams need a mindset that allows them to alter products, adapt to different compensation plans, shift their approaches or even completely redo the business from the ground up.
Take every opportunity to broaden your knowledge and experiences in your career. Gaining better insight is crucial, not only for the task at hand, but also for each decision’s impact on the bigger picture of your organization.
As a small business leader, you should soak up knowledge in a few key areas of expertise to effectively guide and grow your business:
1. Make sense of your cents.
Financial expertise seems fundamental, but it really comes down to this: The numbers don’t lie. The next big initiative you’ve got brewing may sound great on paper, but if it doesn’t fold in nicely with the budget, you’re setting yourself up for a rather large thud.
Work closely with your accountant, and get a good sense of the expenses, inventory, revenue and costs coming out of your business. Consider buying in bulk, consolidating with vendors, always questioning how you could do it better — or cheaper.
2. Manage your management.
Having the right management skills for the right employees isn’t always easy. As a manager, I set my team members in the right direction by walking them through the task at hand, encouraging new ideas (both good and bad) and providing the right amount of feedback to direct them to the goal.
I was once tasked with hiring an additional employee to fill a hole in my team’s knowledge base. At first, I was resistant to hiring someone new to the area, but by providing that new recruit with enough direction (and by helping her leverage her unique expertise), she was a huge success.
Every entrepreneur faces the challenge of determining when progress is being made, what’s working and what isn’t, and how to create the right kind of value from the product. But turning your small business into a juggernaut requires more than whiteboards and brainstorming — it requires the coordinated efforts of a unified team.
3. Commune with your community.
Having community awareness and giving back should be a part of any big or small business. Be aware of what is going on, and participate in community events and fundraisers.
Companies like Iowa-based Pizza Ranch have successfully done this by looking at what’s important for their communities. The restaurant hosts “community impact” nights where families and friends bus tables to raise money for a local cause. The business benefits by seeing an increase in customers on what would otherwise be a slow night.
4. Triumph through tech.
Many small businesses may look to technology to help them grow. Finding the right mix of technology with all that’s available today could contribute to your business’ success. Is it better for you to put everything in the cloud? Should you go mobile? Just remember that technology is nothing without the backing of a solid team of experts.
5. Ground your growth.
Map out your strategy for potential rapid growth, and come up with a project plan to implement it. While it can be easier to focus on growing your client base and gross product, it’s equally important to prepare for the growth of your talent base as well.
Look to hire talented generalists in your company’s early stages that can handle the ever-shifting challenges that startups so often face. Generalists will always be important, though you should start focusing on more specialized employees in the second phase of your business.
Be sure to keep communications open with weekly updates and to watch for any roadblocks. Make adjustments along the way to keep the momentum going without missing any milestones.
6. Consult with consultants.
By joining a business association or club, you may be able to find a mentor to help guide you through any challenges. If your business allows, hire a consultant with expertise in your industry, and let him review your goals and strategy. Consultants will provide recommendations of best practices and align you better with the trends they see in the market.
Small business owners need to be knowledgeable about various facets of their companies. By understanding the makeup of your team, managing it effectively and having the mindset to adapt to change, you can leverage your newfound expertise to drive explosive growth for your organization — both inside and out.