So, you have started a Small Business, and after a couple years you find yourself growing rapidly. You were able to manage just about everything yourself, but you knew that if your plan was going to work, it could not possibly stay that way forever. Or perhaps things are a bit gloomier, you are showing signs of cracking at the seams a bit and the stress is causing you to think considerably less clearly than you need to get things done. Never fear, the answers are usually a lot closer than you think. The real question is, can you be humble enough in the face of this adversity to ask for help?
Now I know, for a lot of people this is not such an easy thing to do. The ego makes it very difficult to admit that you are not Superman! However, if you have done a good job of hiring, have business experts in your area, and avoid family and friends when it comes to business, then your answers are not far away.
Consult your Employees -
Your employees should be the dipstick that helps you measure the oil in the business engine. They are the ones often working with your customers on a day to day basis and can provide valuable feedback on what a customer's opinion or needs are.
They are also likely to have the best insight on what process changes are needed in order to make workflow more efficient. Just because you have an "open door" policy does not mean that an employee will feel comfortable with the idea of communicating to the boss about how poorly something is working. You need to create an atmosphere where ideas can be shared openly, even critically, without an employee feeling repercussions are imminent. Some of my companies best ideas have came from those in the trenches, business owners need to be humble, and this also creates a wonderful working environment!
Consult other Successful Owners -
Yes, I did say successful. I hope I don't have to explain that.
Join the local Chambers of Commerce and attend their functions. You will quickly learn of other business owners who have had success in similarly modeled companies and you will find they are generally more than willing to give you some free advice. Some of them may also become customers! A little networking never hurt, right? But get involved and stay involved, joining only to dig for information will get you nowhere.
Look for Small Business Assistance in your Area -
Most cities have a local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) that is designed to help educate Small Business on a variety of areas, such as;
· Business plan development
· Organizational structures
· Financial planning
· Export assistance
· Cost analysis
· Loan information assistance
· Human resources
· Employee training
Avoid Close Family and Friends -Yeah, easier said than done, and this is just an opinion here, but they are not going to be the clearest judges in helping you keep perspective and staying humble to the situation, they will generally just re-enforce the Superman complex and keep you from being humble. If they have their own business, they may have something to offer, but are they as successful as you would like to be?