When you are running a small business, you might be in a position where you are doing almost everything. Depending on the circumstances such as amount of business, labor shortage or it is just the nature of your business, one day you could be at your desk and the next, out seeing a customer.
The fact is that many small businesses are running because the owners are actively involved in the day-to-day operations.
But what happens when you cannot be at your business?
There are a whole host of reasons that could cause you to be away from your small business. Everything from an injury or illness, vacation and time away such as your kid’s college visits, to major surgery. You could be away from your small business for a day or two, or months depending on the issue.
How do you make sure your small business runs when you’re not there?
Training others in your business is one of the best ways to make sure your business can run when you are not there. It doesn’t matter if it is one day, or a month. You should be training everyone in your business to be more self-motivated and be able to make decisions when they need to. But having at least one key person in your organization that can step up to the plate when needed is crucial. If you a culture of requiring everyone to run “things” by you before a decision is made, you may be breeding a business culture that cannot survive without you there.
Take the time to make sure everyone in your business knows their job, can make critical decisions when needed and is confident in their decisions. And make sure you have at least one trusted employee that can step in when you cannot be there. If you don’t have anyone, it might be time to take a hard look at your staffing.
Having the proper systems in place at all levels of your small business will help to ensure your business can run smoothly whether you are there or not. Every part of your business should have some type of system in place. That goes for sales and marketing, operations, ordering inventory if you sell any type of products and of course accounting.
When a potential client calls you, do the people in your business know how to educate the customer, sell them what they need and onboard that client? Can they do it without you?
Is there a simple system for ordering everything from office supplies to products and parts that your clients need? And, do you have a vendor list of the people you use to support your business?
When it comes to anything that has to do with money, and your absence, this is the first thing that can take down your business if you don’t have the proper systems in place. There are a few procedures that you need to make sure are in full operation if you cannot be at your business.
The first is making sure you are invoicing your customers on time. This is a must. Let’s start with your front line. Let’s take the example of a lawn care company or a repair company. You need to make sure that your team out in the field knows the importance of handing in any paperwork on any job in a timely manner. That also goes for any parts or other products that were provided to the customer. If that system is firmly in place, then internally, it’s up to your team to send out your invoices on time. No exceptions.
You need a system for following up on customers that have not paid on time as well. Make sure you have trained someone on your staff to make follow up calls to customers that have not paid and make sure they know the importance of being tactful when doing so. You don’t want to come back after a period of time to find out your team was harassing your customers to pay.
It’s also a very good idea to have a relationship with a reputable collection agency in place. First, it just makes good business sense whether you are at your business or away from it. But it will also help your team if you are away for an extended period of time. Make sure they know how submit accounts to your collection agency and know how to reengage that customer after the collection process.
One thing that helps a business run smoother when you cannot be there is trust. If you already show your team that you trust them to do a great job, and they know that, you’ve won half the battle already because you have already empowered them to take on the extra responsibilities. If you have hired great people, trained them properly and showed them that you trust their judgement and their ability to do their job, you’ll be well on your way to being at ease when you need them the most.