If you ask small business owners what motivated them to start their business, many of them will tell you they wanted to be their own boss. They wanted to be the one making the decisions and not have someone else telling them what to do and how to do it.
If you are a small business owner, the truth is you have many “bosses.” You are accountable to a lot of people and need to develop positive relationships with these “bosses” and meet their expectations if you want to be successful.
Customers: You obviously must answer to your customers. You need to deliver excellent customer service. But even though you think you know what that is, your customer may have a different definition.
To give your customers what they perceive as excellent customer service, frequently solicit their feedback and respond to it. Work to quickly correct problems and to capitalize on positive feedback.
Be sure your employees understand the level of service your customers expect and how to deliver it.
Employees: Finding and keeping good employees is critical to your business’s success. If your employees are unhappy, they will look for somewhere else to work. Consider what you can do to make working with your company an attractive and beneficial experience.
One thing employees are looking for, especially nowadays, is a position where they can grow and enhance their skills and stay up to date. They do not want to feel they are becoming obsolete.
Employees also want to feel that what they do is useful and that they are making a real contribution. Listen to your employees when they give you feedback concerning offering better customer service, improving day to day operations or other issues.
Bankers: Even if you do not have or need a bank loan right now, you should develop a good relationship with a banker. Establish a business bank account and manage it well.
Stay in touch with your banker and keep him up to date on what is going on with your business. If you need funding in the future, your banker will already be familiar with you and your business.
If you already have a bank loan, be sure you make your payments on time. Plan ahead to ensure your cash flow will enable you to keep current on the loan.
If you see that you will be unable to make a payment, talk with your banker to make sure they understand why and that you are not just ignoring your payments. Your banker may be able to work with you to resolve the problem if you communicate early and often.
Vendors: Your vendors can be great strategic allies for your business. They can help keep you up to date with trends in the market and show you how to capitalize on what changes are occurring. Work with them to develop a good relationship that benefits both of you.
Communicate often with your vendors and be sure you make your payments on time. If you cannot pay on time, get in touch with them to let them know why and that you are working to correct the problem. If you cannot pay the whole amount, send them a partial payment so they know you are not just ignoring them.
Government: Government regulations can have a tremendous effect on your business. Be sure you know what regulations apply to your business and follow them. Noncompliance can be costly and time consuming.
In some cases it can result in the closing of your business.
Taxes can become a big problem for your business if not handled properly. Become aware of all the tax requirements that affect your business — federal, state and local. Stay up to date on changes. Use the services of a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to be sure you are in compliance.
So, even though as a small business owner you are your own boss, keep in mind you must keep a lot ofo people happy to be successful. Take time to make a list of your different types of “bosses” and look for ways to be sure you meet and even exceed their expectations.
Connie Edwards is a business consultant with the University of Georgia’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at 912-651-3200.