A single perspective can be enough to make a correct decision, but when it comes to a more difficult or nuanced question, it can be in a business owner’s best interest to approach the problem from multiple angles. Whether you are weighing an employee perk program or considering investing in new equipment under a constrained cash flow, reflection and a bit of time can go a long way. Here are some ideas on creating more perspective on a problem for yourself. Research historical answers to your problem. Historical answers doesn’t necessarily mean ancient history (although you can get some great perspective from that as well). What this concept refers to is a more immediate history that is available thanks to the internet, where almost any problem you can think of has been experienced and written about by someone. The perspective of a problem that you already have can and should be supplemented by the perspective of others. In many cases, a business problem may be sensitive

Business owners tend to wear many hats, from manager and salesperson to tech support and accountant. When their business only has a few members on staff, it’s often the case that their employees must also manage multiple areas of the business and be willing to be flexible in order to keep things moving in the right direction. That being said, at times it can get confusing for employees in a fast growing business environment to know what tasks they are expected to handle. In a worst case scenario, if no employee claims responsibility for a task that falls outside of each of their ranges of involvement then it can sit around unnoticed and not getting done up to the point that it becomes too late. In order to avoid the stagnation of workflow, business owners need to have some semblance of jurisdiction laid down so that their employees are effectively able to identify and respond to priorities that might not fall into a clearly defined

In business, as in life, a lot hangs on the important relationships that you are able to create. While there are some standard practices that you should be sure to observe that are more or less expected in business communications, small business owners should also be cognizant of some very simple verbal and visual cues they give off that have the potential to strengthen a relationship. Most of these tips are grounded in basic politeness, but in the often brusque world of business, this can be less standard than one might assume. Say thank you. Being grateful for the effort someone puts in to working for you might be a given, but that doesn’t mean you should leave things unsaid. Saying thank you for the work of others reassures them that you truly value the work that they have one for you and that you understand they put effort and time into following up with your request. Respond to physical cues. Pay attention to the body language

While every business will have a different operational style, there are departments that almost every business will have in some form or another, such as accounting, marketing, and IT. As a a business grows, within these departments there should be a vigilant attitude in place in order to prevent the waste of valuable business funds, since there are a few common ways that business owners can lose money through a loose management style in these areas. IT programs that are not effective for their staff. The state of the art programs that you want to put in place in order to optimize your processes are not going to help if your staff has no training in how to use them. While you may be able to afford a new program at face value, business owners should account for the possibility that they will also need to finance additional training for their team in order to make their IT upgrades effective. There are many technologies that are

In a great blog post on the subject, Dave Schneider related the case of a business idea he had that went afoul because of the picky nature of his major client. Within this anecdote, there is a real lesson to be learned for small business owners, and that lesson is that, no matter how much they can potentially stand to gain from a client, if they are running their business into the ground trying to please them, then they should step back and compare the value the client has brought them to the negative value of their difficult nature. Are you constantly going over your budget or time-frame in order to please your client? The profit that your client brings you is not actually profit if it is constantly being eaten into by extra hours and resources. There is a big difference between being nice to a major client by throwing in something extra from time to time in order to keep them satisfied and putting

Passion is a fundamental quality in running any small business,and in fact can serve as a business owner’s greatest asset. Coffee is great, but coffee alone isn’t enough to get a person out of bed in the morning. A true sense of passion in what you do will serve both as a motivator and the secret weapon that sets your business apart from the competition. But how can business owners actively bring together their passions and their business in a way that makes sense for them economically and productivity-wise? Here are a few tips for making work and what you love come together. First, identify where your passion and business overlap. In some cases, this will be obvious. For example, if you opened a beauty salon business because you love hair, then you already are following a satisfying path. On the other hand, if you love to knit, but you run a wine shop, then it might not be so clear cut how you can make

Business owners work hard all year round, whether it’s planning growth, dealing with customers and suppliers, or hiring and training employees, there is always a lot to do. Still, even the most tough entrepreneurs will need to take a break, and the Summertime is the perfect season for planning and enjoying a getaway trip. The only problem is the fact that, no matter how much you deserve a vacation, your business operations are not going to go away while you are gone. You need to make sure that they will be taken care of while you are away and that, in the event of an emergency, you will still be able to be contacted and appraised of what needs to be done to protect your business. In the interest of allowing you to take the time off that you have been thinking about all year, while at the same time not spending the entire time worrying about what is going on back home you can

A trade secret is more than just the special sauce that makes your small business unique. It is a piece of intellectual property that you should take steps to protect. Legally, a trade secret is defined as any type of information that is able to create profit by remaining outside the general knowledge of competitors in an industry, and is therefore guarded as proprietary information by a business or individual. Trade secret protection can last as long as the information that is being protected does not become public knowledge, so if a business owner has a legitimate secret on their hands, they can legally protect it for as long as they are able to protect the secret. What counts as a trade secret for small business owners? A trade secret can’t be something that people are already doing. In fact, even if nobody else is doing what you are, if everyone knows about it it’s not a trade secret either. Only if you are able to prove

  Small business advice can come from many different places, but books are one of the best. Literature can teach life lessons in every area, and business is no exception. Here are a few classical literary moments, as well as some lessons that savvy business owners can take from them and apply to their management strategies. Don’t assume something is impossible. See for yourself. This principle is demonstrated in the Shakespeare favorite, Macbeth. Told by a troop of prophesy speaking  witches that he will reign until the Great Birnam Woods come to Dunsinane Hill, Macbeth assumes that he will be safe since moving trees are impossible, or so he thinks. In the end, his castle is overrun by the forces of his enemies, disguised by the branches of the trees he thought immobile. While, unless you are in landscaping, moving trees will most likely not concern you, the principle that is at work here is important for small business owners to understand. The person who claims

Business owners are, in most cases, comfortable moving quickly on projects and while developing new ideas. The entrepreneurial stereotype is  a person willing to spend long hours and sacrifice certain creature comforts in order to make sure that things get done, and quickly too. This can be a great thing, meaning that their businesses are able to grow and adapt to changes in their markets much faster than bigger companies where bureaucracy and indifference on the part of employees can get in the way of improvements. However, the old adage “patience is a virtue” holds true in many situations in the business world, where rushing something too much can actually cause more harm than good. When to be patient. Patience can be a boon when dealing with third parties in particular. Many small business owners hire outside contractors to handle tasks that they are not comfortable taking care of themselves. Common examples are accounting and web design. Why is patience useful in these cases? It’s because

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