I’ve run small businesses for over ten years now, and it has been an incredible journey. I’ve learned so much about the ins and outs of running a business, from the financials to the customer service. I’ve had to make tough decisions, but I’ve also had the chance to see my ideas come to life and make a difference in the lives of my customers.
Here are my ten tips for business owners in 2023:
- Develop a clear mission and vision for your business: This will help to guide your decision-making and ensure that your business is aligned with your values and long-term goals. Once we sat down to start defining a mission and vision, we quickly realised that this key element had been missing from our decision-making.
- Implement a quality management system (QMS): A QMS can bring numerous benefits to a business. A QMS helps to ensure that products and services meet or exceed customer expectations, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. It also helps to reduce waste and errors, leading to cost savings and increased efficiency. To get started, look at ISO 9001. After implementing a QMS, the greatest change to our business was how we responded to mistakes (or non-conformance). ISO 9001 gives you a systemic approach to managing mistakes, rectifying them and reducing the chance that they will occur again. Blame no longer got in the way of improvement and we’ve made a number of very positive changes to our business as a result.
- Embrace technology: Stay up to date with the latest tools and platforms that can help your business operate more efficiently. With the recent release of ChatGPT and the pending release of GPT-4 there has never been a more important time to embrace technology. Stay up to date with the latest tools and platforms that can help your business operate more efficiently by keeping an eye on platforms such as reddit and, indeed, this page. In my business, we use Slack (internal communication), Notion (a single source of truth, much like the old company intranet pages), and Xero (invoicing).
- Ensure you have the legal and compliance fundamentals in place: This means having a lawyer draft a shareholders’ agreement (if you are running a company), standard NDAs, and employment agreements and developing a register of your compliance obligations.
- Draft policies, procedures and processes: Very quickly, businesses amass a gigantic amount of internal knowledge. Capturing that knowledge in written policies, procedures and processes is critical. Again, using Notion, we have mapped out an enormous number of processes. These are invaluable to new starters and existing team members alike.
- Find the very best advisors: And, don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one has all the answers, and it’s okay to seek guidance from time to time. Finding very good professional advisors such as accountants and lawyers and developing a lasting relationship can lead to ongoing dividends for business owners.
- Develop a culture of continuous learning: Encourage your team to seek out new knowledge and opportunities for growth. This can be through formal training programs, attending industry events, or simply encouraging employees to stay up to date with developments in their field. A culture of continuous learning can help your team stay motivated and engaged, and it can also lead to improved performance and innovation for your business.
- Empower your employees: Give your team the authority and resources they need to succeed, and trust them to make decisions. Micromanaging is a surefire way to drive down employee engagement and tie yourself in knots. We use a daily checking meeting to keep on top of the overall workload. During the checking, each team member says one thing they did recently that they are proud of and what they are working on. They also let me know if there are any blockers.
- Foster a culture of transparency: This means being open and honest with your employees, customers, and stakeholders. A culture of transparency can help to build trust and credibility, and it can also create a more positive work environment.
- Don’t let it consume you: There is nothing wrong with your work being your passion, but you mustn’t let it consume you. Ensure you are available for your friends and family, look after those who need you and look after yourself. When you get stuck or feel tied up, go for a walk around the block.