Common Sense Tips for a More Accountable Small Business

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Running a small business loans a multitude of interesting challenges and variables to each week, some good, and some bad. When things are going your way, there are few experiences as rewarding as being in control of the growth of your successful business, however along with the high points there are the lows. When there is a problem within your business, sometimes the most painful part of fixing it is fully acknowledging what went wrong and why. Accountability within business is both an important, and unfortunately, tough to cultivate virtue, but the effort that is put in to promoting an accountable culture is worth it as it will help your business move forwards faster and address issues before they have a chance to become major problems. Here are some ways that your business can develop a more accountable culture, and embrace common sense principles that make the work environment a better place to be.

Don’t wait to relate an issue. When communication breaks down in a small business, problems that can be easily fixed tend to grow. Reasons why issues don’t get addressed include fear on the part of the employee relaying bad news, procrastination, or a lack of appropriate training to identify problems. As a small business owner, you are a leader and need to relate to your employees that they should not hesitate to report a problem. It’s one thing to be a disciplinarian and committed to a rigid operational structure. It’s another thing entirely if your employees don’t feel comfortable telling you about issues.

Be open to adapting to non-ideal circumstances. When something is black and white, it can often be easier to make a decision than when there are shades of grey involved with your choices. If you reject a situation out of hand because you will be forced to compromise, you may be missing out on developing a relationship that can mature into something more fully aligned with your original goals. It will be rare that you are given a choice that is obviously the best you can get. By closing yourself off to adaptation and compromise, you will ultimately limit the avenues through which your business can grow.

Embrace documentation. Verbal agreements might close a deal, but to finalize it, you need documentation. As a small business owner, it will often fall to you to prove the details of an agreement if it comes under dispute. Create email threads on important projects, follow up verbal agreements with contracts, and keep files of your businesses accounts. You may have your whole business in your head, but you don’t do business in your head, and you can’t print out an invoice from your brain. While documentation can add steps to processes that become irksome, in the event that you find yourself needing to prove something related to a business transaction, or show an employee where you gave them a critical instruction, having a document or email thread to point to will make the time spend worthwhile.

Photo Credit to MIT OEIT on Flickr

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