As we all know, most small businesses fail within 5 years. Let’s examine this phenomena to help build some confidence as we move forward. Business research has revealed that many small businesses fail because of situations occurring in the business itself, not outside forces. Who controls the activities inside the business? The owner and the affiliates. A further analysis shows that the perspective of the owners, as he/she controls the operation, is hindering business development. The owners’ focus is on the technical skills they brings to the enterprise. For example, the owner may be an expert accountant, baker, computer scientist, plumber, or carpenter experiencing great success in that skill. However, as the demands of the business increase, various functions are not attended to such as planning and projecting resources for serving more customers. This also includes the negligence of critically important administrative functions. When this much is left undone, the business fails. Critical functions must be managed and performed for fortifying and sustaining a business that makes basic Management Skills extremely important for entrepreneurs.
According to a report by Zuzana Papulová and Matej Mokroš of Comenius University, Slovakia:“Basic knowledge in management is needed at the initial stage of running an enterprise and also later during the development stage. At the beginning, the management of the enterprise is carried out by the sole founder/owner, who must perform all the actions needed with doing the business. Crises occur when the enterprise is successfully expanding and the entrepreneur (usually still the founder and owner) is not capable of running it.”
As Michael Gerber in the E-Myth wrote:”If you are unwilling to change, your business will never be capable of giving you what you want.”
Therefore the first reason you need Management skills is:
1. You need a managers perspective for success.
You probably really enjoy the hands on effort required to contribute the product or service that you provide. After all, that’s why you started the business anyway. If you continue to work with your head down(on your service, product, or day to day details) and never take time to look at and construct the big picture, it can be fatal to your enterprise. “Big picture thinking” is probably your greatest responsibility and you’ll need to find regular time for it. It’s a different perspective because you will not only work in the business, you will also work on sustaining, fortifying and growing your business.
As the business owner, you will take time out of your busy schedule to be the “Captain of the Ship” and the captain must have a map to help maintain the course or the ship will end up anywhere or no where. The only way you can have a map is to take time to draw one up. This requires regular times of contemplation. Determine your best thinking time and put it in your schedule. This will help you have essential documentation including a strategic plan ( collaborated if needed). Remain open minded with a learning attitude and pay attention to your emotions. What could they be telling you? Daniel Goldman, in his book, “Emotional Intelligence”, has pointed to the importance of emotions; concluding that the Emotional Quotient is more important than the Intelligence Quotient. He believes that “our deepest feelings, our passions and longings, are essential guides, and that our species owes much of it’s existence to their power in human affairs”. Read the book for an interesting insight. Finally, practice patience to immerse your enterprise in the great Vision that you have for the future and be willing to persevere in the face of the many obstacles that you will inevitably face.
“The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge.” Albert Einstein
“Big thinking picture” is a valuable tool for your growing business because it can help lead you to the personal and business success you desire. You will use it for designing a winning strategy, one of the exercises that will bring you to the realization of your dream.
2. Success requires you to develop and manage systems.
Small businesses that succeed develop systems of operation for almost every function performed. Business systems are activities performed in a consistent manner to achieve the organization’s goals. They are performed in several steps and the successful manager documents these steps for easy replication. To most, this will be boring and tedious but once the documents are completed, this will give you time to do what you enjoy doing and enable you to sustain and enlarge the enterprise. This is one of the great secrets of successful businesses that many small business owners avoid. Creating systems simply starts with documenting what you do and how you do it. This may be simple lists. It could be called an operations manual or a systems manual or some unique name that might come to you; but the object is to document the successful operations that you want to make routine.
3. The ability to manage strategically is critical.
Here, you’re required to always hold a mental model of how your operations work together. This model, when documented, will be a framework for your strategic management plan. There’s a lot of discussion about the value of strategic plans. Some say they aren’t needed, others say that they inhibit growth and iteration and some say they don’t work. Any way you look at it, some type of planning is essential. You must be able to see and project how you’re going to get to your Vision and this plan should be available and clear to all who share the responsibility to get there. This plan will guide your business through it’s various stages of development. You’ll be able to design the operations and standards that will guide your business to targets you have set for growth and scaling. Strategic Management will answer the questions: Where are we now in relation to our Vision? What are our eventual targets? How will we get to these targets? Strategic management is one of the functions that will make your dream a reality.
4. Success requires you to hire the right talent.
The Gallup organization conducted a large study of managers in approximately 400 companies. Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman described how the study pointed to the need to select employees by testing for talent. They further concluded that”…every role, performed at excellence, requires talent.” They found that the managers defined talent as” a recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behavior that can be productively applied”. In other words, these are the behaviors that people do often, such as, the ability to remember names, not just faces or the ability to make friends easily. Buckingham and Coffman concluded that every role performed excellently required talent. This talent is our unique way of thinking, feeling and behaving. We all have filters that tells us what we should think, feel or do.
You can look for new employees that share and demonstrate your core business values. These are elements of his or her talent, “the recurring patterns, thought, feeling and behavior.” If you can hire people with the natural talent you need in your business; it will, more than likely, lead to long term success. So this is an area worth studying. It worked for 400 successful managers, so it should work for you. Look for habits. Habits are talents; they are enduring characteristics and prominent attitudes that are revealed in conversations. Choose people with beliefs, values and habits that fit your business beliefs, values and habits.
If you want to build a sustainable or even a legacy business, management skills are essential. The primary requirement is to acquire a manager’s perspective. You will not only work as the technical expert, you will also work as the CEO with a global perspective of your business. You will see the importance of making regular time for “big picture thinking”. You will be able to understand the importance of designing systems of operation for each business function; and you will apply strategic management to these systems to achieve your business vision. Finally, you will understand the importance of only adding workers to your business who fit your business culture and goals. There are other management skills needed, but the ones described are fundamental to good management practice.
See management skill guides in“20 Directives for Small Business Success: Do or Die”