Tuesday, March 2, 2021

12 Tips for Running Your Business

Running your own business is hard.  Ask anyone who has made it past the first 5 years.  My long-time friend, Gordon West, owner of Strongbar Industries attests to that.  Over his 30+ years as the second generation owner/operator of the family business he has seen more than his share of crazy:  From banks making irrational demands, through multiple recessions to COVID.  Through it all he has continued looking forward.

Gordon has spoken to students in my class at George Brown College a few times.  These students are learning how to start their own small business.  Hearing from successful business owners such as Gordon really helps put the 'real' into 'reality'.  He gave his OK with me sharing them and so today, here are Gordon's 12 tips for running your own business:

  1. Know your numbers. Cashflow is the heart of every business. Keep your eye on these metrics:
    • Money in/Money out
    • Inventory balance and Turn:  You need to know what sells and how many times you turn over your inventory
    • Profitability:  Are you making a profit or are you discounting yourself to death
    • Profit margins:  Are you making enough to cover all your costs with something left over for yourself
  2. Do what you like;  Hire what you don't.  You got into business because you were passionate about something.  As a business owner you are responsible for things beyond that. You need to understand those things but you should hire expertise for those things that take time away from the things that grow your business
  3. Get a Business Coach/Mentor. Be accountable to someone other than yourself.  It's easy to slip.  A business coach helps you navigate the tough times and celebrate the good times.
  4. Never stop learning!  Read up on your industry, the economy, business trends. Especially keep up on technology...it evolves fast!
  5. Be the leader.  If you have employees, they look to you for direction.  Be decisive and direct.  
  6. Be your brand! You are your brand and you need to communicate that everywhere and all the time. In email, be grammatically correct and write in complete sentences.  Dress professionally, especially in front of customers. 
  7. Be on time! Follow this rule: 10 minutes early is on time;  On time is late!
  8. Don't waste time!  Especially on social media and email notifications
  9. Keep a record of every verbal communication. Write everything down.  It keeps others honest.
  10. Have a succession plan.  Be ready for un-foreseen occurrences. Buy life insurance;  Have a Will and Power of Attorney.
  11. Prepare for the unexpected.  Think about the 'what if' scenarios'.  The Cashflow can be a simple and useful analysis tool when looking at various revenue situations. 
  12. Visit your bank in person.  Get to know the people;  let them get to know you.  
Thanks Gordon for sharing these with my students.  They are richer for it!

Until next time...

Chris Morales, Marketing, Toronto, Small Business

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