Small Business Management – A Balancing Act – Part One

So you have taken the plunge, and embarked on the painful, yet rewarding journey of starting you own business. With so many books on small business management, and advisors offering help, what do you do? As always the answer is never straightforward, but here is my humble contribution, to these vexing small business management questions.

Managing a business, is an exceedingly difficult exercise, as all small business people, only discover, after having established the business. For the most part, business management is a balancing act.

Allow me to expound on this balancing act. If a plumber quits his normal job, to go into self-employment he will be an expert in his chosen field, and remain confident that the money will roll in. Later on, he runs into cash flow problems, customers shortages etc. He then comes to the sobering realization, that business is not the bed of roses he thought it would be.

A small business owner concentrates at what he is good at, i.e. computer services, building, carpentry etc. But any business, no matter, how big or small needs an admin department, and an operations/production department. No matter how good you are at what you do, if you lack certain skills and competencies in administration, you business will constitute part of the 75 to 80% small business failure stats.

You might create a workshop for you product and services, but do you have a proper administration department? Businesses collapse due to a lack of proper administration.
Here the balancing act comes in. Divide time equally between your administration and operations duties, as a small business owner.

Many new business owners cannot grasp the fact that an inadequate administration department leads to eventual business failure. This compels me to provide numerous examples to my clients.
Here are some to ponder on:

· A potential customer sends you a fax or an e-mail requesting a service or product. The fax or e-mail goes missing. By the time you have located the e-mail, the potential customers have gone to the competition.

· You don’t maintain a customer list or e-mail list. You have many products and services to offer, but customers don’t know about it! You lose business.

· You don’t maintain records on how much your customers owe you, and is therefore not in a position to collect.

· You’re phones go unanswered, or messages are not noted from prospective clients.

· Inadequate stationery (no business cards, letterheads with contact info)

· You don’t maintain proper books of account, so spending and income patterns are not monitored, leading to stock and /or cash losses.

Jack up your admin department, to the same level of your operations department within the first three months of your new business. I am not suggesting you spend less time on operations, only equal time on administration. That is a good start, but the balancing act between admin and operations department goes much deeper. Look out for the second article, later in this week, which provides more detail, of additional sub-departments under admin and operations.

Department Of Commerce Grants For Small Businesses

Several businesses have benefited by applying for and receiving grants from the Department of commerce of their states. These grants are designed to help various small businesses operate and develop within that particular state. Small businesses needing information about the grants from the department of commerce can contact the local area development managers, local development organizations, regional planning commissions or the small business information centers for more detailed information.

Profile of Eligible Candidates to Apply For the Grants:

U.S. based, for-profit businesses are eligible. Individuals or groups of individuals can apply for the grants even before the creation of a company but established businesses have a better chance of getting a grant, as they will have time to focus on the project rather than on creating the company. It must be at least 51% owned by American citizens.

The business must be a small business and can qualify for the grant only if it conforms to the definition of a small business of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

They must use technology and innovations regularly in their operations.

It will be an additional qualification, if an experienced and committed individual, who will ensure the success of the project, heads the company. They will have to have the experience in researching and writing proposals as well as be knowledgeable about using emails and the Internet.

They must present the proposals on how to carry out the project and who will help them such as university faculty who may guide them.

The Small Business Innovation Research program offered by the various state departments of commerce, is very helpful and an excellent opportunity for small businesses to avail non-repayable grants. Businesses can apply and compete to make use of up to 1 million dollars given annually as grants. The department offers free counseling for any individual or groups wanting to explore the possibilities of getting a grant. Various businesses compete annually to get these grants and only 1 out of 10 get these grants, as competition is tough.

Small Business Technology Transfer program is another very important grant available to small technology companies. This grant was designed to allow small businesses to collaborate with non-profit research institutions to bring innovative technologies to the market.

It is necessary for individuals to have a good plan ready and they can seek professional help in planning how they will accomplish the project. The researcher must be well qualified, have adequate research and development experience and have good project management experience. These are just some of the small business grants from the department of commerce. Other grants such as The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG-ED) Economic Development Program, The Customized Labor Training (CLT) Fund, the Entrepreneurial Training Program (ETP), The Recycling Demonstration Grant Program etc are also provided by the department of commerce in the state of Wisconsin.
There are firms that offer services as well as products to help run a successful business.

Small Business Phone System – A Perfect Solution

Communication is a need of every business; business cannot be run successfully without effective communication process. There are many departments in every organization; marketing, human resources, finance, sales, and research development department are common of them. If we want to achieve big progressive success in business then coordination between departments must be good and effective. Working scenario of organizations is quite like, finance department needs some important information from hr-department, an employee of finance department goes to hr-department and collects information, it requires time as well as traveling expenses. We know time is money and keeping in view this importance of time some business experts invented a system for the purpose to modify communication process.

Small business phone system is a unique type of a system in itself; it has all the features and options which are required to make communication process effective. Now any of the employees has no need to go personally in other department to collect important information from that department. By implementing small business phone system in your business environment you will get an exchange network by which you can connect all departments of your organization. Now just by pushing one button you can get any information from any employee of your business.

You need professional assistance to implement this system in your business. A professional will charge you some amount of money but this small investment will provide you a trace by which you can save a big cost against traveling expenses and it will also safe time. There are some things which you should consider before to install small business phone system in your business. Small business phone system is available in two types. Number one, you can buy a small business phone system with the wires. Number two, you can also buy a small business phone system with the wireless technology.

It is up to you to decide what type of technology is best for your business setup and which one is easy to apply. Some businesses have such a congested setup where you can not apply this system with wires implementations whereas some businesses have a net work scattered on very big area, in that case if you install this system with wires technology then you may have to spend a big amount for the purchase of wires so it is better to install this system with wireless aspects. It will save your cost of installation and time which you will require to install this system with wires technology.