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Strategies for Running a Successful Small Business

A small business owner has their hands in all aspects of the business. Managing and running a small business is different from running a large business because there is a lot of personal contact between the employees, the owner, and the end product.

To have an efficient organization, a business owner needs to understand the best ways to run a small business.

Strategies for Running a Small Business

1.- Manage with confidence

When you’re running a small business, you have to make critical decisions all the time, and those decisions need to give your employees confidence that the business is on the right track (See resources). A small business owner needs to analyze the business climate, be prepared to make risky business decisions, and then confidently support those decisions. You develop that confidence by taking the time to understand your business, your customers, and your competition, and then making decisions based on your educated observations.

2.- Have competent personnel

Whether you hire one person or have 100 employees, it’s important for a small business owner to surround himself with the right people, depending on Kiplinger. Hiring friends and family members just to give them jobs is not going to help you grow your business. Your staff needs to be made up of people with the skills, experience, and dedication you need to help you run a successful business.

3.- Reduce costs

A small business owner needs to be aware of the costs of doing business, according to Cisco’s “Five Ways to Control Business Costs.” Use a cost monitoring and inventory software title to keep track of your materials, and work with suppliers to find ways to lower your costs. Have an energy auditor come to your business so you can work on items that will reduce your overhead by making the business more energy efficient. Instead of hiring employees to perform tasks, seek the use of independent contractors and reduce your payroll and benefits costs.

4.- Operate your business day by day

The best way to run your business is on a daily basis. Develop a plan by which you operate your business, and attend to the daily tasks that will help you reach that goal. By staying dedicated to your plan and continuing to plan for the future, you will begin to develop the ideas that will help you move your business forward.

Resources:

10 ways to run a risky business

  1. Take a chance. The riskiest decision you make can be the most rewarding and rewarding.
  2. There is no crystal ball. Take big leaps to learn about yourself as an entrepreneur and decision maker.
  3. Once you make a decision, trust it and move on. Do not look back.
  4. Stop worrying. You cannot confidently take risks if you are constantly worrying about the outcome or the future.
  5. Remember there are no mistakes. If you fail after taking a risk, the lessons learned are invaluable.
  6. Ask yourself, what is the worst that can happen?
  7. Stay out of your comfort zone. The more success you experience through risk taking, the more you are going to allow yourself to branch out.
  8. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of taking risks. Accept that as an entrepreneur, the learning is endless.
  9. Evaluate what you are really risking. It may not be as scary as you originally thought.
  10. Don’t stress about having that “great idea.” Great ideas do not come easily, a small idea can be the big prize.

Five ways to control business costs (Source CISCO)

Health. Energy. Mail. Insurance Transportation and travel. These are categories of business expenses and costs are likely to increase year over year.

Large companies are better prepared to absorb these rising costs. But small and medium-sized businesses have limited financial resources and face pressure to keep prices low in order to be competitive. They really feel the pinch.

The best strategy is to plan ahead. Ultimately, your goal should be to focus on being proactive rather than simply reactive, says Lauren Ventura, senior director of market management for small and medium-sized businesses at Cisco. “Being proactive means that you have anticipated, to the best of your ability, opportunities to improve your business. And in the long run, being proactive costs a lot less than being reactive.

A well-designed network can go a long way in helping small and medium-sized businesses contain costs. These are just five ways the network can help:

1.- Unify data and voice systems:

Some companies have a data network and another system, such as a PBX, for telephones. Many are turning to “converged” Internet Protocol (IP) networks that can carry data, voice and video on the same system.

A converged network reduces capital and operational expenses because you are installing, managing, and supporting one network instead of two. A single network can also help reduce the time you spend on maintenance and troubleshooting. The result can be lower support costs and more time for your IT staff to focus on helping your business succeed.

For example, when Warner Pacific Insurance Services, an insurance company with 103 employees, added a second building to its headquarters in Westlake Village, California, it decided to replace its outdated PBX system. The company decided to take the opportunity to bring its voice, voicemail, and separate data together into a single unified communications system.

The new network should be able to serve more users without the need for new support modules.

“We just wanted to plug in new IP phones when needed,” says Mike DeDecker, network administrator.

Unified communications on an IP network also reduce the cost of network moves, adds, and changes. Even a basic change, like adding a new user, can cost between $ 75 and $ 135 with a standard PBX.

2.- Reduce communication costs:

A single voice and data network allows you to route long distance phone calls through your company network, rather than through the public switched telephone network. Carrying calls this way can lead to big savings. For example, Warner Pacific Insurance Services avoids toll charges because calls between its offices in California and Colorado, as well as calls from telecommuters, now travel over the company’s IP network.

3.- Work more efficiently:

A network can help make your business processes more efficient by reducing the costs of doing business in many ways. For example, health clinics are using electronic medical record (EMR) systems in conjunction with a wireless network. Physicians can get the information they need anywhere in the clinic and can jot down notes about a patient’s visit while in the exam room, reducing dictation costs by the thousands.

Warner Pacific credits Cisco Unified Communications for helping employees achieve more. “We do everything we can to make our current employees more efficient, rather than hiring more people,” says CEO Dave Nelson. “With Cisco Unified Communications, our employees can more easily transfer calls, view an online company directory, and review their incoming and outgoing calls.”

4.- Monitor costs:

An intelligent network allows employees to share applications that monitor and measure many business activities. This tracking ability can help you contain costs in ways you may not have considered. For example, you can allow employees to view your company’s inventory on an easy-to-read “dashboard” on their PCs.

“If you know where most of your products are shipped, you can better control your inventory costs,” says Ventura. “Having visibility into business information is a great way to keep costs under control.”

With the right tools, you can also let your customers record their own costs. Commercial Communications, Inc. offers a print-on-demand service and offers its customers access to an online document management system called the Publication Zone. The system allows customers to view the products they currently have on order and see who is ordering them and the quantity ordered. They can also use the system to schedule document print jobs. “They can make smart decisions about the entire lifecycle of their documentation,” says Brent Hegwood, the company’s president and chief operating officer.

5.- Reduce staff turnover:

Providing your employees with a richer communications experience helps keep your employees satisfied and can make all the difference in the long-term success of your business. Dissatisfied employees may look for work elsewhere, and having to find and train their replacements adds to their costs.

A network can allow your employees to work from home and access all the information they need from the office, in real time. Studies have shown that telecommuting programs can help employees achieve more and give them a better work-life balance. Satisfied employees tend to stay with their jobs longer. Even better, your satisfaction can translate into more satisfied customers, and that helps increase bottom line results.

Build a network plan

To create a network that helps you take control of costs, you need a plan that maps your business goals and objectives around the network technology investments you make. Too often, small and medium-sized businesses invest in equipment that they believe will meet their needs in the short term, without thinking about the future.