Donna Reade

QuickBooks Online Consulting & Bookkeeping

6 Small Business Realities From The Trenches

You make a ton of mistakes when you are running a small business, especially if it is your first time doing so. A lot of people end up attempting to run a business without any formal training.

These types of owners are usually really passionate about something (or really good at it). While there is plenty of help out there for new entrepreneurs, few seek it out due to a lack of time and money. Egos may also get in the way.

Below are 6 small business realities I have learned from the trenches of starting mine.

Need To Develop A Training Program
If you are going to grow and bring on employees, you need a training program. If you plan to bring on employees, you need them to handle tasks as if you were handling them yourself. It is insane to think that an employee will know what to do or how you want them to work without a training program in place. If you are thinking that your new hires will be plug-and-play, get ready for a harsh reality and some big-time failures.

Team-Building Is Critical
Hiring employees is hard. Wait a minute, let me rephrase that: Hiring employees is really hard. I totally underestimated how difficult building a team would be. I just thought to myself, “People want to work hard; this will be easy.” After some huge failures, it’s obvious that finding, attracting, and retaining top employees is one of the hardest tasks you will encounter as an owner. Your company is nothing without a strong team, so don’t underestimate the importance of this task.

Sales And Marketing Are The Lifeblood
Many business owners underestimate the importance of marketing and sales. The reality is that, without marketing and sales, you have no business because you have no customers or revenues. Sales and marketing are the lifeblood of any business.
You could have an amazing product or service with a kick-ass team in place. However, if you don’t have a way to attract prospects and convert them to customers, your newfound business venture will be very short-lived.

Need To Master Cash Flow Management
As the company grows, cash flow management will become more and more important. There are two basic ways to grow a small business: invest time or invest money. In order to grow, you will have to invest both time and money, so you need to be good at managing them.
If you suddenly can’t afford to pay your vendors and employees, don’t expect them to stick around very long.

HR Is A Pain
Managing human resources can be a massive pain that you just won’t see coming. If you are hiring new employees and all you do before putting them to work is have them fill out a W-4 and an I-9, you are on the road to disaster. As you grow, you will want things such as employee agreements and a benefits package. Managing the standard benefits alone, like health insurance and a retirement plan, are very complicated. Additionally, you are opening yourself up to some potentially big liabilities if you don’t know what you are doing in a legal sense. Add in the complications of managing paid time off, hiring procedures, and properly terminating employees and you have a big job on your hands.

Get Legal Ducks In A Row
When starting a company, there is a tendency to do it as lean as possible. I’ve had many people approach me when they are thinking about starting a business for advice and I always tell them “Get a lawyer.” A good lawyer can help you file for the right type of organization, set up employee agreements, and make many other suggestions for minimizing your legal exposure. Lawyers may seem like an unnecessary expense when you are a brand new business, but believe me, they are worth every penny.

7 Responses to 6 Small Business Realities From The Trenches

  1. Joseph Ezenwa says:

    Donna,
    An article well articulated.Yes, i support the view that the SMEs owner-managers should train their staff before they start work.This is important so as to enable them perform on their new jobs.

  2. Cameron Harman says:

    I like this a lot. It covers some of the basics as well as tips .Follow this advice and it will go a long way toward insuring your success.

  3. Hania Whitfield says:

    I frequently observe this dilemma in my work with small business owners. Passion and overwhelm are the primary culprits. I do not see this evidenced as fault or ego, but more of a pattern created during the growth of their business. As business grows, daily operations take priority over long term strategies. Only when a lull in business occurs can they raise there heads above water enough to do more to run their business rather than work in their business. If growth strategies are not then implemented, decline occurs.

  4. Joanne Hession says:

    Excellent practical and uncomplicated article Donna, I’m going to share it with all our start-ups in The Entrepreneurs Academy (Ireland). Thank you.

  5. Lungile Mbatha-mthimkhulu says:

    So spot-on, most people view running a business in the narrow sense, only focusing on ”their specific line of work” or object of the business and thus neglect to run a businesses in holistic way which caters for all the necessary details of sustaining and developing a thriving business-which involves looking into all those aspects you have mentioned: Sales+Marketing,Growth &Development and Risk Analysis. So without achieving a balanced management of all these critical areas within the business there can never be success.

  6. Dr. Brooklynn Ann Welden says:

    Great points and thank you for posting!

  7. JoAnne says:

    Very good article with very good advice for successfully growing a business. Thanks Donna.