Operating a micro business has unique challenges. Unlike a business with 25, 50, 100, or even more employees, micro businesses operate with a much smaller group of employees. Many micros, of course, have the owner as the only “employee” or just a couple of employees.
While it might be easy to say that all businesses should have strategic plans for the future, segregation of financial duties, cross training, employee mentoring, internal controls, etc., owners of micro businesses find many of these tasks to be unreasonable and unthinkable. Most micro owners feel fortunate just to have cash in the bank, the ability to pay bills on time, and make a profit. There is never a thought given to anything else.
Unfortunately, when many areas that are crucial to operating a successful micro business are ignored, deficiencies arise that can eventually hamper growth and longevity. Although there are limitations placed on micro business owners, they can practice the following to overcome constraints inherent in a micro business:
Financial Records…No Segregation of Duties
Although many micro businesses have their financial records and financial statements prepared internally rather than outsourcing this function, the owner must still be involved in the process. In many micro businesses, one individual will be responsible for billing, receiving payments, reconciling bank statements, and preparing financial statements. Even though this individual might be a very valued and long-term employee, the lack of segregation of duties creates opportunities for undiscovered errors and/or internal theft. Owners must oversee, review, and double check for accuracy.
Marketing Strategy…No Measurement
It is not unusual for a micro business to not have any type of planned marketing strategy. The owner might choose what he or she feels most comfortable with…social media, website, printed material, etc. Without the input from employees or consultants, the choice might or might not be the correct one for the business. This means that the owner must measure the marketing outcomes desired…more phone calls, walk-in business, website visitors, etc. Without proper measurement, the owner cannot judge what works and doesn’t work.
Procedures And Controls…No Standardization
With a few number of employees, many micro businesses operate without standardization of what or how something should be done. Employees are told basically what to do and then it is left up to them how and when certain tasks are accomplished. Although the “job” might get done, efficiencies are most certainly lost along the way. Micro owners must still develop necessary procedures, processes, and controls to gain the most efficiency even with a limited workforce, and then follow-up to ensure everything is handled as expected and required.
Communication…Employee Involvement Is Important
Micro owners are always busy…doing this or that…paying bills, juggling cash, or taking care of customers. You name it and the owner is probably doing it. One thing that is frequently missed, however, is communication with employees. A business doesn’t have to have an HR or corporate communications department to communicate with employees and listen to their concerns. One-on-one communication still works. An owner just needs to take the time to talk with employees regardless of what they are doing or length of time working for the business. Everyone wants to feel valued as a person and an employee, even someone working in a micro business.
Immersion Is The Answer
When there is no one else in a micro business to share the responsibilities, then it is up to the owner to “carry the whole load.” Even though there are no employees or just a few, there are right ways and wrong ways to operate a business. There can be no excuses when it comes to the bottom line or blaming someone else when a micro business does not run efficiently. Micro owners must completely immerse themselves in their own businesses. Without total involvement on a daily basis by a micro owner, all of the important tasks necessary to operate a successful business will not be handled. Be aware and be involved are of utmost importance for micro businesses to succeed and grow.