According to United States Census Bureau employment data from 2014, of the 6,795,015 small businesses with employees, 2,894,288 have four or less employees. Some stay that small by design, while others may not have grown because they don’t know how to expand their businesses effectively. Growth, if not managed properly, can lead to lack of control over core aspects of a business and decreased quality in products, services, and customer care.
If you’re starting and/or planning to grow your small business, here are some key considerations that might help you do it successfully:
- Think about scalability from the start.
While managing your small business may be easy when it’s just you taking care of all administrative and operational tasks, adding employees adds complexity. Consider creating an organizational chart and job descriptions so roles and responsibilities are well defined and expectations are clear. Having that visual representation of your company’s structure will also help you identify any gaps in management and execution that you’ll need to address.
According to SCORE mentor and business development expert Wilson Chu, “Your business plan serves as a road map for the growth of your business, and it should include the organizational structure needed to achieve that growth. It is important to define the key roles and responsibilities to achieve a cohesive and smooth functioning organization. The job positions and functions as outlined in the business plan must be reviewed from time to time to determine that the plan is still valid based on current business conditions.”
- Create processes and systems.
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, a process is “a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result,” and a system is a “a group of related parts that move or work together.” You’ll benefit by having both as you grow your business.
By documenting functions and activities in a step-by-step format, you’ll have clear instructions for the employees to whom you entrust responsibilities. A small sampling of processes most small businesses might consider include: fielding and qualifying leads, prospecting for new business, creating proposals and estimates, creating products, invoicing clients, receiving client payments, etc.
A small business’s systems are the platforms and tools that enable it to carry out its processes. A few examples might include: your accounting software, email platform, website content management platform, social media management apps, productivity apps, customer relationship management systems, etc.
“Well thought-through processes and systems will allow your organization to grow and expand to accommodate future requirements. They give your organization the flexibility to change,” explains Chu.
Much of what works or doesn’t work in a small business can often be traced back to the success or failure within its processes and systems, so it’s critical to regularly review their effectiveness.
For more insight about starting or growing your small business, reach out to the local SCORE chapter near you. SCORE mentors have a broad range of expertise about all things involved in managing a small business. They can provide you with valuable guidance and feedback to help you grow your business successfully.
Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.
How to become a successful entrepreneur
If you want to run your own company and become a successful businesswoman, here are some tips to help you achieve your goals.
• Believe in yourself. Confidence in your abilities is crucial if you want to attract employees and investors who see the potential of your product or service. This will ensure you build a solid team around you.
• Decide on a mission. If there’s a goal that’s important to you, make it the mission for your business. This will help keep you on the right track. You should also determine what sets you apart from your competitors and, above all else, be passionate about your pursuit.
• Prepare yourself mentally. A good state of mind will make it easier for you to face challenges head-on when they arise. In addition, being ready to overcome failures and keep moving forward is a key part of the process.
• Don’t be afraid to go for it. Stop doubting yourself and overthinking your plans, and just launch your business. Whatever skills you’re lacking, you can pick up along the way. Remember that books and training programs can be great resources.
• Manage your time wisely. Since it can be challenging to juggle various professional and personal responsibilities, don’t be afraid to delegate tasks. In order to succeed, you must be organized and know how to make the most of your time.
Now, it’s up to you to show the world what you can do.
How to buy a small business
Business ownership is a dream for many people, and an alternative to starting from scratch is to buy an existing business. But where to begin?
First, with loads of due diligence. The more preparation, the better.
Your prep work starts with an honest look at your own experience, lifestyle, and desires to figure out what type of business you want to buy. It’s helpful to search for a business that aligns with your interests and skills.
Next, make sure you assemble a good team. An accountant will help you decipher financial information, and an attorney will help with negotiations and advice for structuring transactions.
You can search for available businesses in a number of places, from Craigslist to networking events and conferences. The website BizBuySell has thousands of listings.
When you do find one you’re interested in, the seller will likely ask you to sign a nondisclosure form or confidentiality agreement. The reason is that you’ll be privy to a lot of proprietary information that the seller wants to make sure remains private, should you decide not to buy.
You and your team will review financial and business documents to analyze the profitability of the business, as well as whether they’ve remained up-to-date on necessary licensing and forms.
Among others, these may include:
* Business licenses and permits
* Organizational paperwork
* Contracts and leases
* Financials, including tax returns, profit and loss statements, cash flow statements, balance sheets, accounts payable and accounts receivable, debts, etc.
* Organizational chart
* Inventory and equipment status
* Insurance documents
* Client or customer lists
* Intellectual property
Finally, if you decide to buy, you’ll have a stack of paper to review before purchase. These include things like a bill of sale, transferring ownership of vehicles and equipment, the lease and more. You might also ask the seller to sign a non-compete agreement, so they don’t start a new business that competes with yours.
Why you should work for a fast-growing company
Is there a fast-growing company in your area that’s hiring? If you’re ambitious and love taking on new challenges, applying for a position with a business that’s undergoing major growth could be a great career move.
It can be exciting to join a company that’s developing quickly. For example, working to establish new products, services, territories, and markets can provide a unique challenge that keeps you on your toes. In addition, the dynamic atmosphere of a fast-growing company typically fosters strong bonds with co-workers and puts your skills to good use.
In many cases, fast-growing companies attract talent by providing a range of employee benefits including competitive salaries, flexible hours, and the opportunity to work remotely. The company may also offer access to health facilities, free food, and other perks.
In short, joining a company that’s quickly growing could be a great opportunity.
If you’re hoping to make a career change, working for a fast-growing company is a great choice. You’ll have the opportunity to build new skills and grow your existing talents.
Robotics fills bill; workers are hard to find
Find it, pick it, pack it, ship it.
That is the routine for warehouse work, and robots are coming to the rescue in an industry that just can’t hire enough humans.
Companies are investing millions in warehouse robots to pick up the slack in enormous storage and shipping facilities.
According to the International Federation of Robotics, a single robot saves up to 18 miles of employee walking, increasing picking productivity by two or three times.
In 2018, according to Stord.com, there were 400,000 robots installed per year globally. By 2022, that number will grow to 584,000 units.
In fact, robotics has come to the rescue of North American warehouses, which are struggling to find labor. In the U.S., warehousing companies added about 168,000 jobs between April 2020 and April 2021, a 13.6 percent increase. But sector payrolls contracted by 4,300 jobs from March to April, according to a preliminary report from the Department of Labor. Logistics employers simply can’t find enough staff to keep pace with demand. Logistics staffing firm ProLogistix says the average starting pay for warehouse workers was $16.58 an hour in April 2021. That is up nearly 9 percent from April 2020.
According to the Wall Street Journal, warehousing demand has been driven forward dramatically by the pandemic, which created a surge in online demand while shrinking the supply of available workers. It’s not that robots are taking human jobs so much as there aren’t humans to fill them.
Logistics providers are looking into remotely operated forklifts in warehouses that can be controlled from anywhere in the world using real-time video and audio. This could allow automation companies to find workers in areas of the employment market not usually tapped by warehousing, such as disabled workers.
4 benefits of working for a family business
No matter what industry they’re in, family businesses are unique. If you’re looking for a new job, here are some of the advantages of working for one.
1. They offer a sense of belonging. If you don’t want to feel like a number, joining a family-owned business is the right choice. You’ll likely be part of a small, close-knit team that’s truly invested in your well-being.
2. They subscribe to strong values. Family businesses are generally driven by strong values such as reliability, trust, respect, solidarity, and transparency. These values are reflected in the way they treat their customers, suppliers, partners, and employees.
3. They tend to endure for a long time. Since family businesses are passed down from one generation to the next, they continue to develop and grow over the years. This changing of hands keeps things fresh and ensures the company continues to thrive.
4. They have a good reputation. Family businesses have a strong interest in protecting their reputation to encourage pride in the family name. They not only want to present a positive image to their customers, but they also want their employees to speak well of them.
If you want to be part of a company run by a devoted and caring team, consider working for a family business.
Studies search for causes, solutions to truck driver shortage
There aren’t enough big rig drivers now, and there haven’t been enough drivers for a long time.
In 2019, the trucking industry was short 61,000 drivers, according to the American Trucking Association (ATA). The association estimates a shortage of 160,000 drivers by 2028.
Trucks carry more freight across the country than every other mode of transportation combined, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. About 3.8 million drivers haul 71 percent of U.S. freight.
So there is plenty of work. Driver pay averages $47,000 a year, somewhat higher than the average of $42,000 across all occupations. It works out to about $22 an hour.
According to the ATA, the driving force is older, an average of about 46 years old. The industry is not attracting enough young people. At least one of the reasons is mandatory regular drug testing, something some industry leaders say should be strengthened.
While people who enter the trucking industry can be quite loyal to it, people still have to be 21 to drive. The ATA is working to lower that age to 18. Safety advocacy groups have argued that young truck drivers are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that wages have not kept up with inflation. The association also cites problematic working conditions, since drivers must spend long hours away from home.
A Loyola University study points the finger at federal regulations for the long periods of downtime away from home. Regulations can make it difficult for drivers to drive at the best times, and drivers can be stranded for days away from home. For example, a driver who stops work on Friday morning may have to wait until Monday rush hour to get back on the road. For drivers paid by the mile, being stuck in traffic can chop $2 an hour off their pay.