Hello, again. For those of you following this series, “How To Start A Business”, Phase II-Maintenance”, is an important one. It can be frustrating, however. Be never discouraged, however, because you’re on the right track. You’re on your way to a good thing. Once you’ve started the business, there’ll be issues to confront. Personally, I don’t enjoy it. I feel like I’m doing work, twice; having to confront it, again.
As a new start-up, you have your product or service, the space to do it in and a customer or five. Very well done. Only, you’re far from being done because, now, you have to keep it there. What do I mean? I mean keep it from going away, falling apart or self-destructing. This is the subject of maintenance.
It’s simple to solve, however. And if you have the guts, you’ll get it done without losing sleep. Did you know that only three in one hundred people are successful in business? By the end of this article, you’ll know why. I’ll try to make it plain and try not to make it sound too scary.
I started when was a child, so working with adults was difficult. Children know they don’t know, so they’re easy to teach. Adults, not so much. Additionally, I expect them to know everything. They don’t. You, basically, have to tell them what to do. You have to groove them in. It’s like making a groove in a record. You need to groove it in, so it’ll play the same, over and over.
You want it to play without skips or jumps. You want the orchestration to be smooth; effortless; complete. You need the groove to maintain your business and thrive, but you have to figure it out.
There is a business model, but you work it out because the model is a general guideline. I can tell you the standard applications, but you have to fine tune it. Similar to what a musician does with his instrument or a race car driver does with his winning vehicle.
These are adjustments you have to make that haven’t been part of your routine. It’s now time to put certain standards in. These standards make it yours.
I can give you a thousand examples of this, but let me just give you a few.
1) A schedule: What hours will you work?
2) Pricing: What do you charge?
3) Customer Appreciation: Do you give a bird-dog fee? (A bird-dog sends you customers. The fee is similar to an affiliate commission. 10% is standard.)
These standards are, generally, referred to as “policy”.
Whatever your policy, you have to write it up. And don’t write-up screwy stuff. Never use policy to belittle or condescend. You want people working together and getting along. When things are put in writing and understood, everybody gets along. With proper policy, your business will run smoothly and you’ll make more money.
To the degree you publish and distribute your policy, is the degree to which you’ll get compliance. And no more.
Who Else Should Comply?
There are others who must comply, besides you and your staff. Why do they matter? There are other people involved in your business. One is your vendor, aka, supplier and the other is government. Both work for you so, get these in agreement, as well.
You definitely want the City and your Banker on your side. Both, can give you grief, otherwise. The City can make you tear down a wall and the Banker can process your checks before crediting your deposits.
See these people as business partners. Let them know that you need their help and support. Technically, you are their customer. Be respectable and know that they are there to serve you.
Here’s an example of getting a supplier in step:
1) You call in an order.
2) You ask for it to be shipped.
3) They drop it at your door with no security measures in place.
This is something you have to work out with your vendor.
1) Packages will be received between 9am and 5pm.
2) All deliveries are to be signed for, by me (or Bob, if I’m away).
3) Late deliveries will not be accepted. I expect zero re-stocking fee.
You can see there are a few specifics to work out. Work it around until it’s efficient. This may take a little time with some trial and error. Know this is a normal part of business. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Remember, you’re the boss and you’re in-charge. Be proud of your venture. It’s your baby. Take care of it.
As long as you’re consistent, everyone will get the hang of it. And the antagonisms will be few and far between.
If you need to compromise on one or two issues, that’s not the worse thing in the world. Again, just make it work. If you have to replace a staff or a vendor, do it.
The point is, set the standard. If you don’t, people will walk all over you. It’s human nature. Not that anyone’s bad. It’s that everyone wants their own way. It’s what they know best, until you tell them differently. Which brings me to staffing.
You can manage the business all by yourself or you can delegate some of it. This will free you up to concentrate on more important things, like marketing and finance. You’ll need it to grow your business.
How To Handle Staff
1) Call for applications
2) Interview applicants
3) Choose which one fits.
Once the staff arrives, what do you do with them?
1) Give them their job in writing. Include the title and description along with duties and responsibilities.
2) Give them the schedule.
3) Give them contact information for correspondence.
The less you have to chit chat about work, the better. And I don’t have to tell you why.
To round out this “maintenance” phase of your business, let me summarize with this: Whatever problem or disagreement recurs, it’s a clue to what’s begging for policy.
You’re, basically, standardizing your operation so that ALL are fully coordinated, willing and able to cooperate. This is a feat of magnitude and not for the faint of heart. But, it’s well worth it. And you’re worth it.
In the next Phase, I’ll go over how to grow your business. Up until now, you’ve been putting the business there and getting it into shape so that it continues. If you can do this, you’re in the top 3%. Congratulations.
You deserve all the benefits of self-employment: Freedom to have and do what you want; the money to do it; the pride and satisfaction that goes with it.
Additional Material: Leadership 101-What Every Leader Needs To Know
Over To: How To Start A Business: Phase III-Growth