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It’s a small business so don’t run it as inefficiently as a Fortune 500 (or 5 tips for running your small business efficiently)

Have you ever worked for a big business? If so, you know roles overlap across departments leading to gross inefficiencies (and money wasted) and things never seem to be done on time (despite the availability of resources). It’s like flushing money down the toilet

In your small business, you have all the same ‘departments’ as a big business. Regardless of size, you deal with legal (you had to register your company didn’t you?), human resources (you have to hire or engage with people), accounting (I’m hoping someone checks your books?), IT/Web (you’re reading this online so that’s a ‘Yes’) and since you’re calling it a business, and hope to gain some economic value from running the venture, you do some marketing and (very importantly) sales. But you cannot afford to do these things inefficiently. There’s very little money to waste (hence the term small business).

So, below are cost effective tips to efficiently manage your crucial business functions to gain  control of your internal operations.

  1. Legal: Get the services of a registered lawyer to draft your first agreements and contracts. Then switch to a legal review service (and reuse those initial drafts) for subsequent engagements. The initial legal costs of around $300/hr will save you hassles when your business grows (at which point a badly written contract from the early days might lead to a lawsuit).
  2. Human Resources: I read a few days ago that you should ‘hire slowly but fire quickly’ but small businesses need to hire quickly (because you need the resources like yesterday) and fire slowly (while you search to hire someone else). Not too many people provide recommendations for incompetent contacts; your network provides the required vetting and assessment that big companies pay HR to do. The rest is determining whether there is a ‘fit’. Use your network as HR.
  3. Accounting: You started your business to provide a service or sell a product and not to pore over financial spreadsheets (unless your service is to pore over other people’s financial information). If you like human interaction get a bookkeeper or, if you don’t, use Quicken to handle the day to day entries (linked to your bank account) that determine whether you’re making more than you are spending.  Also hire an accountant to look through this information on a regular basis, especially before tax season.
  4. Business Tools (Software):  Nowadays your business can’t survive without email (Gmail), your accounting as mentioned above (Google docs has a basic spreadsheet tool), conferencing (GoToMeeting) and marketing campaigns (MailChimp). These tools, and a host of others, help you do a lot more with less.
  5. Business Tools (Utilities): there’s no dearth of free small business tools out there for lead management (PipeJump or Zoho CRM) free telephone calls (the recently launched Google Call) and fax through email (MyFax). The point is that there is no excuse for not using these tools, you can measure the results and, for the most part, these are free.

What you cannot pay for will have to dedicate time to. And, unless you like wasting your time on running a business inefficiently, you might as well do it right and do it well. Do it well and, you never know, your business might make the Fortune 500 someday. Dreams come true you know…

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