A small business owner has several challenges. Often he or she must play every important role. This can be stressful. However, I mentored a few small business owners for the past few years, and each small business owner I coached was thrilled to be his and her own boss. Besides, each understood that it’s normal in a small business to not employ full-time specialists in each major activity.
I gained gear insights in the workings of these small businesses. Though I worked mainly in a large multinational business in many countries, one fact is clear. Apart from the scale, most challenges small and large business issues face daily are similar. Still, I think there are three areas a small business owner should address regularly. And a new year is a perfect time to do it.
As a small business owner you have the joy of being your own boss. However, this brings responsibility for the entire business. Unless you pause regularly to examine how you are doing, you can burn out emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and financially. This happens gradually.
Small Business Owner Should Address These Areas Regularly
- Emotional tank
- Debt to equity ratio
At the start of the business, often you are alone doing almost everything. You might have a primary job and are waiting for more security to go full-time in your small business. Either way, you are likely to be working long hours. Probably, you don’t have a business plan or budget. Therefore, you wouldn’t have a road map for your present destination.
A former colleague would say, “the future is not what it used to be.” To be sure, God alone knows the future. That’s why you are surprized regularly. You need to realize that changing economic and business conditions is normal, and you need to be constantly alert and pre-emptive as you decide issues in the business.
Running a business, especially a small business, can cause your stress level to hike. I see this often with young small business owners. What’s more, your business might be growing faster than you expect and taking the next step scares you. That too, is normal. Even so, there is good news! Everybody has 24 hours daily—that will never change. Besides, your emotional tank is limited—so you must choose your priorities daily. Armed with these two unchanging facts, you have a simple decision. Will you trust the Lord to give you what you need to do His work at proper times? This is difficult to implement but simple to understand.
In 2 Peter 1:3, Apostle Peter tells us His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness. And Matthew 11:18 assures us Jesus will give us rest when we are burdened.
Start the new year by asking the Lord to empty you of you and fill your emotional tank with Him.
It’s important you are doing His mission. Your business’ mission is its purpose. Are you doing what the Lord showed you to do? Are you doing what you set out to do? Or are you allowing the market to lead you where prices are “good” and “margins” are high.
Never decide solely on money. That will always produce a temporary fix, or major problems. Decisions must have substance. If your products or services do not have a sustainable competitive advantage surely you will chase prices and margins in the short-term and appear successful. However, that’s not a proper base for your business.
Ensure you are following the mission and not chasing money for temporary gains. Apple, Microsoft, Starbucks, and Southwest Airlines are businesses that know they need sustainable competitive advantage. They know chasing prices short-term doesn’t fix structural issues. And they know they can’t stand still on today’s gains; so, they keep moving forward.
Debt to Equity
A creeping debt to equity ratio is a sign I see in a small business that continually focuses on short-term fixes. As a small business owner you must know your funding needs. Most of all, must ensure you have enough capital for each developmental stage. You need to understand you must collect receivables, minimize inventories, and pay suppliers on time. Poor working capital management shows up in rising debt. And unexpected debt is never welcome; especially when you should be seizing growth opportunities.
That said, as you start a new year, reflect on the three areas a small business owner should address regularly. Fill your emotional tank with the Lord, ensure you are on His mission, and watch your debt to equity ratio–try to avoid debt.
© 2014 Michel A. Bell