I thought I’d kick off the new year with some thoughts that aren’t directly associated with digital marketing.

Sometimes, after working with a client for a while, I notice things that are hindering their success and understandably my observations aren’t always welcome, after all it’s not my place to tell them how to run their business. Therefor I keep my own council unless asked for an opinion. It’s all very well being smart as an outsider looking in of course, but I’ve made these mistakes myself so I can speak from first hand experience. Before I formed Webartifice I was a manager in a successful small business responsible for about 20 staff, split between sales and logistics. I left the business because I was unhappy, but it wasn’t until I thought carefully about my time there that I realised that I was a significant contributor to my unhappiness!

I thought I’d highlight a few areas that I believe other business owners might find interesting, in the hope that they might look inwardly and ask honestly whether they are making the same mistakes.

Problems…

Micro management

I have found that small business owners, or senior management, find it hard to truly delegate in a growing business, it’s their baby and they won’t ease off on the reigns. They may employ staff with managerial titles but they exert so much control that it can stifle creativity and lead to a perceived lack of trust, poor morale and reduced performance. I would suggest that if you see your staff not performing optimally you should ask yourself honestly whether you are a part of the problem and address any shortcomings with your approach before you look at the shortcomings of your staff. You must realise that you can’t do everything yourself; you need to take a step back and let your staff get on with what you pay them to do.

Under resourced

Sometimes with a fast-growing business it’s hard to keep up with the resources required to keep the business on track. I see this with eCommerce sometimes when the client is lucky enough to be very successful in sales but finds it hard to fulfil orders because of logistical problems, which can lead to customer service nightmares. The answer of course is to plan carefully and understand how you are going to upscale with success. You also need to ensure you have the working capital available to cope with success, which can vary considerably depending on the business you are in.

Poor motivation

In my experience small business owners tend to have a singular perspective on what motivates their staff. I’m in a position where I must work closely with staff and I often get a different perspective. Small business owners will be entrepreneurs that are motivated quite often by success, and most measure success by monetary worth. I believe it’s difficult for them to realise their staff may not be motivated in the same way.

While the wage packet will be important to staff, I often see that morale is not only related to the amount they take home every month. If staff work in a pleasant environment and feel valued; their morale will be higher and they will be more productive.

There are exceptions of course, human nature plays a huge roll, and some people do just come to work for the pay cheque. However, if you have a morale problem you need to ask yourself why and how you can improve things. Not addressing this can have a huge negative impact on a business.

Solutions

Most problems in business can be avoided by having a well thought out strategy. Business owners and senior management need to look at things objectively before such a strategy can be formed. If no one in your organisation is capable of forming a coherent strategy, or you are not willing to listen to advice, then it’s likely your business will stagnate and possibly fail. Don’t wait ‘til it’s too late.

This post was prompted by a book I have been reading about strategy in motor racing and how it can relate to strategy in other walks of life. It is an interesting read, but I admit may not be everybody’s cup of tea. If you think you might be interested take a look…

Total Competition: Lessons in Strategy from Formula One by Ross Brawn (Amazon UK)