Most people think a professional organizer is a little like a house cleaner, but many of my clients run small businesses or have me come to their professional offices. In thirteen years I’ve seen a lot of these offices and have come up with 5 pieces of advice for how to run your small business or professional office efficiently. These stem from the common mistakes that I see business owners make over and over again.
- Have Job Descriptions for every employee – Even if your employees have been with you for many years. In fact, they can even help you develop the job description. Find out what they are doing day to day, then compare that with what you want them to be doing for your business. A lot of issues can be resolved with clear job descriptions. Plus, it makes it easier to do a six-month or annual review; compare their performance against the job expectations. And it makes it easier to replace an employee who quits or moves on.
2. Divide and conquer – Too many small businesses have workers who they expect to be the Jack or Jill of all trades. The “generalist” is often pulled in many directions and does not have time to put a lot of thought or effort into any one task. But if you have more than one employee or consultant, find out their forte, their specialty what they really enjoy and let them do it well. Then you as the business owner or principal can focus on what you do best. For many business owners, that is business development or sales. Let others run the day-to-day operations and only get involved if there’s a problem.
3. Avoid the threat of “the bosses wife.” – I know that may sound sexist but I’ve seen it many times. A man owns a business and the wife “helps out.” If her role is not defined, if she doesn’t have a title then the workers might feel she is only there to spy on them or to have her opinion heard on how things should run in the office. If she is a partner, give her that title and specific roles. If she is an employee, like anyone else she needs a clear job description.
4. Have a plan for Financials, Customer Service and Marketing your business and review it every 6 months. So many small business people get caught up in working in their business that they forget to plan and work on their business until it’s too late. And that usually happens when you lose a major client or your leads dry up. It is a constant cycle of managing the money, having a Customer Service plan and routine to keep your customers happy and then a Marketing plan to keep new clients coming in. Some basic software that can help with these tasks are: Quickbooks, Constant Contact, and Survey Monkey.
5. Hire Sub Contractors as needed – If your business is not lucrative enough or steady enough to employee people then consider hiring sub contractors on an “as needed” basis. With subcontractors, like employees you should have a written agreement which includes pay scale, confidentiality and insurance information if you have a job that requires them to carry insurance. With sub-contractors there is less pressure on the business owner to keep them busy a certain number of hours per week. But you have the ability to again “divide and conquer.” If you’re not good at bookkeeping or marketing, hire someone to do that for your business.
What do you find difficult about running your business efficiently?