Small Business Development Center
At Chemeketa Center for Business & Industry
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Category Archives: Business Owner Traits

Keep Things in Perspective Business Owners

By Chemeketa SBDC

If you’re a business owner, you know that the job can be tiring, stressful and challenging. Small business owners wear many different hats, often at the same time. There are customers to service, records to keep, critical questions to answer, inventory to manage, taxes to deal with and a million details.

So much needs to be done, and often by only one or two owners. It isn’t uncommon for the business to drain your energy and motivation, regardless of how much you enjoy the business. Finding balance in this chaos can be difficult. But neglecting to find this balance can lead to burnout, business failure or personal illness. Creating boundaries between personal time and work time is necessary to keep your business in perspective.

Start the process of setting boundaries by reflecting on priorities and knowing what’s really important to accomplish in a day, a week or a month in order for your business to succeed. After that you will feel better about allowing the time you need for personal activities. Analyze and understand all of the tasks you perform in your business. Prioritize those that bring in the most value, and ruthlessly reduce or eliminate the rest. Delegate as a matter of course; outsource if you need to.

Finding balance is about making choices that are healthy (emotionally and physically) and implementing tools that reduce stress. Rethink business hours of operation to allow time for family, friends, exercise and fun. Keep business activities confined to those hours of business operation as much as possible to avoid burnout.

The key to successfully keeping business in perspective is to establish boundaries, plan ahead and manage time for achieving the greatest impact. Develop a healthy perspective on what’s truly important to your happiness and what’s getting in the way.

Some common strategies that busy business owners use to balance a personal life with business success include time management, planning, prioritizing, being productive and not just busy, delegating, incorporating technology, and just plain old taking a break to refresh and recharge.

Some additional tips include creating a focus on solutions and not problems, keeping a visual reminder of your “why am I in this business” near you at all times, writing down your successes at the end of each day, and viewing challenges as growth opportunities.

Everyone business owner knows it takes fortitude. To those outside looking in, running a successful business looks easy. But every business owner knows that their success only came after a lot of false starts, time and effort, learning experiences and perseverance. If you don’t take time to recharge your batteries and refresh your perspective, it’s easy to find yourself frustrated with your business.

 


Bad Habits That Can Derail Your Business

By Chemeketa SBDC

Can we talk about your habits? Well, how about the ones that affect your business then? We all do things habitually, for better or worse, and those things have a direct bearing on the success (or not) of our businesses. Here’s a handful of them to watch out for.

• Indecisiveness. You know this one, it’s where you stall out on decision making. Perhaps you let the day to day small tasks of your business keep your attention away from the decisions you know you need to make, and so you just don’t make them. Or perhaps you wait (and wait and wait) for the one key piece of information you need. And you put off making a decision that will make a big difference for your business. And you do it repeatedly.

• Being penny-wise. In other words, cheaping out and saving small amounts of money when a wiser spending decision would bring a far richer return on investment. Businesses cost money to run and to grow. Naturally you shouldn’t run around wasting money left and right, but the opposite of this is hanging on to every nickel at the expense of strategic spending decisions.

• Allowing day to day chaos and noise to distract you from what’s strategically important. Also known as “putting out fires” all day long, this habit solves the urgent and immediate but doesn’t help you lay out long-term plans and direction. This is also known as being held hostage to the “tyranny of the urgent.”

• Waiting for the ideal time before doing something. Unfortunately there usually isn’t a perfect time for things. If this is a good, or good enough, time to make something happen…then seize it and make good on it. This habit of waiting is a cousin to the habit of indecisiveness. Also known as spinning your wheels, it doesn’t move you forward. If I offered to give you a million dollars if you made a decision about something in the next half hour, I’ll bet you could do it, right? And that means you don’t have a problem making a decision, you have a problem choosing to make a decision.

Be honest with yourself about some of this stuff and how it’s affecting your business. What small changes can you make right now in your habits that will benefit your business a good deal in the future?

 


Delegation Vital to a Business’ Growth

By Chemeketa SBDC

One of the harder chores that a business owner faces is delegation. While there may be immediate gratification when someone takes a task off your overwhelmingly full plate, the fact is that once you feel the relief, you may very well begin to question whether it has been done as well as you expected, as fast as you could do it, or even done right.

No one can do everything alone. We know that intellectually. But whether we can accept it personally is another step. Delegation is vital to the growth of a business. It is also important in developing the sills and abilities of your staff. It allows you to groom your staff for higher-level positions and to take increasing important roles in decision-making.

While delegation, the assignment of part of your work, is the reason you add staff, often we don’t fully understand that with delegation also must come authority and accountability. Three steps are generally needed for the delegation process to be successful.

First you must assign responsibility to someone. You must ask someone to do a job or perform a task.

Second, you must give that person the authority, the power, to accomplish the task or job. This may include the power to get specific information, order supplies, authorize expenditure and make some decisions.

Finally, you must create accountability, the obligation to accomplish the task. (Note that while you can create accountability – you cannot delegate it away. You remain accountable to your business. If your staff fails to complete the job – you are accountable.)

Communication, good communication, is the key to successful delegation. First you have to know what you want to accomplish and you need to clearly communicate the task or project. If there are any absolutes you also need to let you staff know what they are and how these absolutes must be accomplished. You need to think of the tools (including information) the person will need and let them know where they can access these tools. You should be very clear about the expected outcomes, deadlines and deliverables.

And then you need to get out of the way. And remember, it is always a learning process. If you cannot afford mistakes, you cannot avoid training. Set your staff up for success, not failure.

 


What traits do successful business owners have?

By Chemeketa SBDC

What does it take to be a successful business owner, and why do some people seem to “have it” while others don’t? There are a handful of characteristics that set a high achieving entrepreneur apart from the rest of the pack, and the good news is that you don’t need to be born with these, you can learn them.

Look around at the successful businesses you know, chances are the owners will exhibit several, if not all, of these traits.

• First is the ability to self manage. This is the ability to train yourself to do what you don’t want to do. It’s self-discipline that you develop and that becomes a regular habit. It’s hard at first, but you can practice this until it is second nature. You won’t succeed unless you can manage yourself (and after that managing someone else won’t seem so daunting!).

• Along these lines is the ability to work hard. Putting in long hours, following up on details and commitments. It’s staying on the job until the job is done. Successful business owners make whatever sacrifices they need to in order to reach their goals. This entails making hard choices (and sometimes those can take a personal toll).

• Achievers are focused on where they’re going. They’re not idling along without a plan, they’re moving towards a goal at a good clip. They lock onto their vision and pursue it. They choose not to let distractions deter them from their destinations.

• And because they have this focus, they are able to be decisive. They ask themselves the question of whether an opportunity presented will get them to their goal or not. And they don’t take forever to make the decision either. Delaying action is delaying achievement, and so they act on opportunities and choices in a timely manner. Yes, sometimes the decisions don’t pan out, but indecisiveness is worse.

• The successful have a will to succeed that underwrites the above points. They are able to channel motivation into focused goals, and then drive themselves to achieve those goals.