As a small business owner, you can feel like there is a lot that you need to learn. It’s never-ending! However, while there are a lot of different technical and financial elements associated with running a business, you also need to master your people skills too. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the best people management skills for small business owners.
There is only one place to begin, and this is with integrity. Being a person of integrity is important because it is the only way that your employees are going to trust you. If you are honest, ethical, and transparent, this really can make a massive difference to the performance of your workforce. It can be tempting to take the unethical shortcut when you face so many challenges per day, but it is important to avoid temptation. Even one slip could lead you to lose the trust of your staff.
A good manager is someone who coaches and develops their workforce. Yes, delegating tasks is part of your job role, and being able to do this effectively is important. Assigning the right tasks to the right people can make a massive difference. However, you should not simply assign tasks and then leave people to it. Being a good coach and a mentor can make a massive difference when it comes to the success of your business. Opportunities to train, learn, and develop are what workers crave. You will find that a lot of people leave jobs whereby they feel like they are in a dead-end role and there is no opportunity to progress their learning.
Aside from the people management skills that we have mentioned so far, having empathy is important. It is vital that you can appreciate and understand how others feel. Empathy helps to generate trust. If your employees feel like they are genuinely seen and understood, they are going to be much more likely to trust you to make the correct decisions. In addition, you will be able to get the most potential from your employees if you are able to show empathy. When managers display that they care by showing their appreciation, employees will reciprocate this appreciation by putting more effort in.
Last but not least, another good skill to have is predictability. You may think that being predictable is boring, and this can be the case in some walks of life. But in business, it is a great quality to have. After all, employees prefer it when they know what to expect from their boss. It makes them feel comfortable in the working environment, and when this is the case, workers feel more confident when it comes to sharing their thoughts and ideas. They don’t feel like there is ambiguity regarding what they can and cannot do either, and this gives people the freedom they need to excel.
Now, hopefully, you have a good idea some of the people management skills that you need to master as a small business owner. Do not underestimate the importance of having good people skills when it comes to the success of your business.
Cross training is where you train one or more of your employees to do carry out other roles within your organisation. This is good for managers as it offers more flexibility when it comes to managing a workforce in order to get a job done. It is good for your employees because it teaches them new skills and increases the value that they hold within a firm and also helps combat the fatigue they might feel from always doing the same thing.
The beauty of cross-training is that it can be used in almost any industry and any role. In those companies where employees are frequently in contact with customers this can help to ensure that employees have more empathy for the customers they deal with, for example, cashiers and customer service representatives can learn something from each other’s roles that will help in their own. Those firms focused on technology often require employees to be certified in a wide range of skills and offer benefits and bonuses to those who are continually updating their skillset.
When it comes to preparing your plans for cross-training remember the benefits for both employer and employee. Cross-training offers an employee the chance to learn a new skill that could make them more valuable both to you and another alternative employer. Learning new skills can reduce boredom in the workplace and help keep an individual stimulated. Some of the key benefits of cross-training are:
Where possible cross-training should be structured for job enrichment, this is a vertical expansion of the role and can include adding those tasks that might offer an employee more responsibility and control. This might, for example, mean training those who work in HR to support more than just benefits administration or payroll. This will offer you staff with a wider range of skills who can become more involved.
When a manager has been exposed to all areas of an organisation, they work for they will have a better understanding of that business. For some companies, this ethos forms part of their training for new managers, working in every section and to every shift to better understand those who work for a company and just what their role entails in order to be the best manager possible.
Each organisation works differently so it is important to create a program that best suits your own individual needs. Ask employees where they see the need for cross-training, identify those tasks and roles where cross-training would be beneficial. You could even offer incentives; as a leader, you know your company and employees best.
Unlike employing an SEO consultant, the decision to implement a CRM is not one to be taken lightly and even a small implementation of Microsoft Dynamics can be a considerable chunk of your annual IT budget.
Which is why it is important to be using it to the fullest extent. A CRM that is used as a glorified customer database is an extremely expensive white elephant but a CRM deployed across the whole company could increase productivity, decrease errors and improve customer satisfaction.
But how do you go about getting the most from Microsoft?
Microsoft Dynamics is immensely powerful but that means you can’t expect to learn it by trial and error. It is essential that everyone in the sales process using the system is provided with sales training, both on the actual mechanics of “How do I do that?” and on the underlying methodology of “Why are we doing that?”
The only right way to run a business is the one that keeps the business alive. Whilst there are reams and reams of books and blogs telling you how to run your company you will no doubt have settled on a combination of techniques that you and your staff are happy with.
Which is why Microsoft Dynamics allows you to expand its capabilities by adding on apps. Do you use SCOTSMAN commitment measuring techniques? There’s an app for that . Do you use Social Media? Get the app to manage your social marketing. Need to monitor MailChimp? Guess what – there’s an app for that too.
Just like you’d be wasting your money buying an iPhone and only using it for phone calls you get the most out of Microsoft Dynamics when you add on apps to extend what it can offer.
Microsoft Dynamics, naturally, integrates with Office so you can automate the creation of documents without needing to leave the CRM. This has two major benefits: firstly, you can keep all your interactions with a particular client together so you can see at a glance what stage of the sales cycle you’ve reached; and secondly, you minimise errors caused by transferring data from one system to another. This reduces the amount of time your sales people are spending on admin tasks whist improving the customer experience by speeding up responses and reducing errors.
Microsoft Dynamics has a mobile interface meaning your employees can access the CRM data wherever they are. Site visits – both sales and aftersales – can be logged immediately before the rep has a chance to forget what occurred and without the possibility of errors caused during transcription of paper records. It also allows them to be familiar with all interactions between the customer and your company – even if the customer rang in with an issue after your rep left the office. Attention to detail on this scale improves the customer experience which leads to greater customer satisfaction and better customer retention.
Are you still using Salesforce as just a contact manager and tracker instead of wholly a part of the sales process? Salesforce is an immensely powerful customer relationship management ecosystem that can completely revolutionise customer handling across your entire organisation leading to a more consistent customer experience and greater customer satisfaction. But it can’t do that unless you unlock its potential by populating it with data about your customers.
Probably the number one reason you aren’t using Salesforce as effectively as you could, is that you don’t know what it’s capable of. So instead of wasting money on features you don’t know existed and couldn’t use if you did get yourself some sales management training.
Like keyword research for SEO, Salesforce gives back as much as you put into it. So, to maximise the value gained from your investment in the technology you need to start using it as the default application for any task. Many of the tasks that sales departments need to do on a daily basis are natively supported by Salesforce or you can directly link the application you need. No more copying and pasting customer data from database to email or cross-referencing to create a quotation. All that can be automated through Salesforce reducing the time spent creating sales documents and minimising the introduction of errors.
Salesforce is extremely flexible and allows you to customise it to suit your particular business. Hide away the parts that don’t interest you and bring to the front the parts that are important. Salesforce users make the most of it when they can understand what it’s telling them so don’t be afraid to tailor the experience!
We mentioned above that Salesforce is a CRM ecosystem. There is a wealth of apps that plug into Salesforce and extend its capabilities even further. From Survey Monkey to SCOTSMAN tools there’s an app that can help you make the most of Salesforce.
In an increasingly connected world there is still a place for the sales visit to reassure prospective clients that you care about them and to demonstrate your product. Keep your Salesforce CRM data to hand by installing the Salesforce1 mobile app. Record the results of the meeting instantly, before you can forget what happened or confuse them with the next client and make a decision on what to do next before heading back to base.
The huge advantage of a CRM over, say keeping your records in a filing cabinet, is that you can mine your customer data to reveal interesting insights about how your customers are responding to you. Salesforce users who successfully harness this power can tailor their sales operations to focus on the most profitable areas where sales are most likely to come from. By reading and responding to the analytics you can increase customer satisfaction, improve customer loyalty and reduce time spent per sale on closing the deal. Doesn’t that sound like good value to you?
We all know the importance of archiving your documents and the benefits of doing so, but are there some instances where archiving shouldn’t happen?
Every day, your business generates information and data. It can be anything from petrol receipts to the information you collect when customers buy online. You have legal responsibilities to keep some of this data. However, many companies hang on to information “just in case”, a state that could lead to document archiving costing you far more money than it needs to even if you have chosen to use an offsite cheap storage unit rather than expensive office space to store the documents. It is increasingly common for small companies to make use of self storage rather than waste valuable office space for storage. The costs are generally low, especially with all the good self storage deals around but it may still be money that your business doesn't have to spend if you are storing documents that you don't need.
Knowing the law
In many ways knowing what you should not or don’t need to keep is fairly straightforward – you just need to be aware of what the law says in relation to your business sector and industry.
As a general guide, you should always keep documents, data and information relating to:
What documents you don’t need?
However, in spite of having these five points relating to documents you must keep, many businesses still hang on to information that they really don’t need. On one hand, you may think that you may need the information or document but on the other, it makes archiving documents a cumbersome and heavy process.
To help you understand whether you need the documents or not, ask yourself these four questions;
Telling a story
Your business records essentially tell the story of your business, charting its rise from humble beginnings to the thriving business that it is today. Keeping documents safe is important, and not just for the regulatory or legal reasons. Backing up data is important too but a separate activity to document archiving.
If you are unsure what to keep, for how long etc., a professional document archiving service can help.