Anyone who starts their own company will find challenges in running their business. For the contractor who knows the construction industry like the back of his hand, he may find the day-to-day pressures of back office tasks are a stressful component of business ownership. However, thoughtful choices at key decision making stages paired with solid management skills will point the way to success.



Laying the groundwork

If you’re in the early stages of your business, this is the time to lay a foundation that will help your business run smoothly. If you’re a sole proprietor, you can take steps now that will help you whether you continue to run your business alone, or add employees as your business grows.

First things first: Figure out what tasks are definitely better left to others. Seek out people you know and trust with respect to financial and legal matters. If you don’t know a good accountant and an attorney, get recommendations from others. You can also outsource payroll and human resource functions, and any other tasks you find are of low value relative to the time spent on them.



Time management & technology

Getting a handle on time management is one of the most effective ways to set yourself up for long-term success.

Find useful tools

Using cloud storage to house your documents means accessing them quickly, easily, and on the jobsite when needed. Web-based spreadsheets, presentations and calendar alerts will keep you on time and on task. Digitize as much as you can to save time and effort searching for files later.


Prioritize tasks

Streamline repetitive tasks by scheduling time on your calendar to complete them. Not only will you keep them from continually interrupting your workday, but knowing you’ve set aside time to deal with those small, pressing matters will keep the anxiety of unresolved issues at bay. Know the difference between urgent and important.


Assess your productivity

Think back on your most productive time of the day, and set that time aside. Reschedule your calendar to block that time out for your most important work.


Refer to your plan

Periodically review the stated goals in your business plan. Those goals need to be achievable through series of tasks that will help you stay on target with respect to both prioritizing responsibilities and time management. Ask yourself — are the steps I’m taking every day working toward the goals I’ve outlined in my business plan? Your answer will help you keep on track.



Managing People Matters

One task you can’t outsource to an app or a contract service provider is managing people. Whether it’s dealing with a full, part time, or contract employee, strong communication is the key to managing the message. And when it comes down to actual management skills, too often the expertise just isn’t there. As a company owner, it’s in your best interests to excel at management, but with no training or guidance, where do you start?

Every decision you make has a ripple effect that impacts your profit margin in ways you may not have previously considered. If you’re a sole proprietor, bad management often manifests itself in poor communication, disorganized back office practices and ineffective communication with clients — all which leave your company — and you — with a damaged reputation. If you have employees, poor management has a trickle-down effect that diminishes productivity in your most susceptible workers — and then can spread to others. Not only will you see reduced profitability in terms of performance, your company’s culture will suffer from declining morale, which could leave a negative impression on clients.



Small changes, big results

If there is room for improvement in your management style, minor corrections in your processes and interactions can go a long way toward adopting a successful management and communication style that works for you, resulting in increased efficiency, improved productivity, reduced turnover and better morale.

You can see dramatic results by using soft skills — personal attributes that enable you to interact effectively with others. Key to building relationships, these skills are vital to an effective management style. They include a willingness to learn, excellent listening skills, good decision making, diplomacy, planning and organization, and the ability to negotiate.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be born with soft skills. Like any skill, they can be identified, prioritized, developed, studied and practiced. While it may seem challenging to implement changes to your management style, the overall benefits will positively benefit you, current or future employees, your clients, and your profitability.



Gaining ground

Remember, if being your own boss were easy, everyone would do it. Learning to manage your business and achieve the right results involves a combination of factors, including knowledge, skill and drive. However, even as a sole proprietor, don’t forget to surround yourself with great people to help you along the way. Your mentors, contacts and advisers are all part of your building blocks for success.



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