Problems are inevitable when running a business. Every facet of your operations are subject to having issues arise without any warning whatsoever. From your employees, to contract issues with clients, to everyday problems like tax issues and collecting on your debts.
Regardless the circumstances that arise, there are simple things you can do to ensure that those problems don’t end up forcing you to close the doors:
1. Manage your cash flows meticulously.
Working capital is a big problem for all businesses to overcome. Even the big boys have entire teams devoted to making sure money’s coming in, and that cash flow issues aren’t bleeding the company dry every month.
The best advice to make sure you always have enough to keep the company running smoothly, is to employ accountants and other money management specialists who develop an intimate understanding of the financial inner workings of the company.
That which is needed on an ongoing basis, and to budget for upcoming projects and impending purchases that will require more capital than normal to execute. Also, if you’re not comfortable reaching out for funds, you’ll need someone who knows where to find money when the company runs into financial snags.
2. Diversify your client base and product lines.
This is a problem that’s dominant in both startups and established businesses. However, when your company only services two or three regular clients, you have a problem. What happens if they take their business elsewhere or go out of business? The answer: you’re sunk!
The same problem holds true if you only have a limited number of products to offer the marketplace. Your existing client’s needs can change at any time. If you’re not ready to meet the challenge, they’ll find someone who can. You need to progressively make improvements to existing products and create new ones to meet the needs of current and prospective customers in order to succeed long term.
3. Avoid employee/management burnout.
Burnout is a particular problem for startups and other companies without enough staff to cover the demands your company places on them. Everyone is excited about their job at first, but when you push everyone too hard and fail to create new positions for them to expand their career and/or help manage the company’s growing workload, burnout is inevitable.
Insist on days off for everyone, to allow for rest and recuperation away from the office. Also, have a continuing training and education program in place early, to keep everyone fresh on their toes and loving their job.
4. Be there for your staff.
This problem is largely due to the owner. Being hesitant to hand over responsibility and delegate jobs and decisions that are traditionally completed only by you is a recipe for disaster as the business continues to grow. Not to mention the stress it causes you when you’re suddenly forced to be away from operations.
You need to be able to count on the business running smoothly even when you’re not around. Illness, meetings away from home, and family issues are among the things a business owner needs to account for when making the schedule and finding employees you can trust to learn and grow with the company.
Things a good leader can do to ensure nobody in the company is over-dependent on them is to hire solid managers, and to always look for competent employees who’re eager to take on more than they’re doing currently.
The reality is that nearly every potential problem effecting the longevity of your business comes down to you:
Ensuring capital is managed effectively.
Making sure you’re never reliant on one customer or product to keep you afloat.
Avoiding burnout and the inefficiency and increased turnover that results from it.
Taking constant steps to make sure the company can run in your absence.
Do these 4 things and you can be sure your business will be running more smoothly than those that don’t, including your closest competitors.
Main Image Credit: Matthias Weinberger/Flickr