A Small Business Entrepreneur’s Top 10 Playbook

# 1: Have a Vision – Where is that you see your business in 3 to 5 years? How do you want it to look? How do you want it to run? Do you have a business plan? Do you have a Mission Statement? Do you have a Vision Statement? What is your succession plan?

# 2: Believe in Your Talent – Talent by itself is never enough. There are a lot of times that people who have tremendous talent come up way short of ever fulfilling their potential. You have to believe in your talent, be passionate about your talent, continue to invest in your talent and surround yourself with the best talent available.

# 3: Assemble Your Team – A smart business entrepreneur makes sure that he or she is surrounded by talented professionals and not just a bunch of “yes” people. It’s essential that you have a professional corporate attorney, CPA, financial advisor, bookkeeper, insurance person and a front office manager as part of your team. An attorney and CPA are must from the start, and you can add additional pieces to your team as you grow.

Be sure that you take the advice of your professional advisors, after all that’s what you pay them for. You may not always like what they have to say, but it’s important to listen to them.

# 4: Empower Your Team – Equip your team with the resources that they need in order to be successful. In addition to helping them be successful, you’ll be successful too. It’s tempting to take shortcuts in order to save money, but it’s important to keep your team up to speed in this day and age of high technology and development.

Your team will consist of professional advisors and everyday employment personnel. No matter what position they occupy in your business, it’s important that they have the tools that they need in order to help your business be the best it can be.

Another thing to keep in mind is to delegate responsibility and decision-making capabilities to various personnel throughout your company. An employee, who feels empowered by the owner, is a much more productive employee.

# 5: Peer Networking – One of the most valuable activities that you can involve yourself with as a business owner is networking with your peers. There are numerous opportunities for you to get outside of your business and network with other business owners.

There are groups such as the Chambers of Commerce, Rotary, Business Associations, and several weekly or monthly membership-based networking groups. Make sure that you attend one or two networking activities a month in order to promote your business and find out about those businesses in your community.

# 6: Realize Early on That You Don’t Know Everything – Most business owners find themselves at various stages of their businesses, having to wear a multitude of hats. That’s okay from time to time, but it’s also important to keep in mind, that there are probably other people out there who can do a much better job than you can simply because they can bring a different perspective. Every business owner will find themselves at the early stages of their business for fulfilling just about every role imaginable, be it answering phones, scheduling clients, marketing and/or keeping the books,…. and that’s fine from time to time (matter-of-fact it’s good to learn every position in your business) but you don’t want your business to rely on you having to fill every role.
As soon as you’re able, delegate responsibilities to others on your team so that they feel more valuable, and it eases the workload on you.

# 7: Realize Early on You Can’t Do Everything – Similar to what’s above, realizing early on that you can’t do everything is a key to business success. There is a very high “burnout” factor for owners who have an “I – can – do – it – all – by – myself” attitude and refused to delegate responsibilities to other members of the team. You may feel like no one can do it better than you can (and that may be true), but if you want to keep your team engaged with a sense of ownership and empowerment, it’s important to delegate responsibilities to them because it shows a sense of trust and confidence in the rest of your team.

There will be plenty of opportunities for you as a business owner to “burn the midnight oil” so you might as well wait for those opportunities to roll around and be well rested and prepared.

# 8: Stay Current – With technology advancing at warp speed, it’s important for every business owner to stay up-to-date with some of the latest and greatest resources to help your business. It’s true that there’s so much out there that one cannot possibly absorb it all, but that goes back to the matter of you needing to be an owner who can keep his/her “head up” to see the big picture and opportunities in front of you and not get wrapped up with a “nose to the grindstone” mentality and approach.

Be adventuresome and daring in trying new techniques and technology that can help enhance your business. It’s okay to take a “trial run” at various techniques just to see how they may fit into your business. One thing is certain, “nothing stays the same, and change the only constant”. You’ve got to keep up with the ever-changing world that we live in.

# 9: Don’t Be Afraid of Change – Even if you feel that you aren’t changing, the world around you is. More importantly, if you aren’t changing, you can bet that your competitors are, and most likely trying to change for a competitive advantage over you.

It’s only natural for us to get complacent and doing the same old thing because that’s what we’ve always done.

I’ve got a great quote on the wall in my office that says “change is inevitable…. but growth is optional”. I don’t know about you, but I choose to grow.

One of the advantages of having a diverse team is the fact that they offer a broad range of perspectives and opinion. Older employees tend to stick to a tried-and-true method that may or may not be outdated, while younger employees have fresh brand-new ideas that you may want to consider implementing if the time seems right.

# 10: Find Your MVP – In order for a small business to thrive, it’s important for it to operate as a team. In order for a team to thrive, it will have many movable and variable parts that need to stay coordinated together.

Every team has an MVP (Most Valuable Person) who the owner feels comfortable and confident enough in to have that person has his/her “Go – To – Guy”. For me that person is my operations manager, Rosemary Bennetts, who has been with me from day one over 20 years ago.

Your MVP may or may not be the most visible or well known person on the team. Your MVP may be someone who is tucked away in a back office, with their sleeves rolled up, and battling daily in the trenches in order to keep your business running. Your MVP may be your front desk person, or your hot shot salesperson that you have out in the community. Whatever the case, work closely with your MVP (they most likely know how the business works better than you do) and recognize them and appreciate them in an appropriate manner.