There’s no fool-proof method for running a business. Unfortunately, you don’t get a user’s guide when you file for a business license, and there’s really no fully comprehensive list of do’s and don’ts that will guarantee ultimate entrepreneurial success.
The fact is: every business is different. What works for one business might not work for another. As any good entrepreneur can tell you, success is about observation, creative thinking, and adaptation.
Part of adaptation is the elimination of processes or policies that are no longer working. Many businesses fail to do this, either because they are so used to the rules that no one thinks to question them, or because they fail to realize the damage the old status quo is doing.
It all goes back to paying attention and observing. Of course, as with most things, that’s easier said than done. So, here’s a list of five common areas of trouble for many businesses. These are aspect of business as usual that perhaps shouldn’t be so usual after all—especially since they may be doing more harm than good.
- Excessive Meetings
How many hours a week does your team spend in meetings? And what is really accomplished during that time? Not every business has issues with this. In fact, some probably don’t have enough meetings, and their business may be suffering from an overall lack of communication.
For many businesses, however, the meeting schedule can get a bit excessive. Try to cut it down by setting a clear agenda of items to be discussed. Then, make sure everyone walks away with a task or a goal from each meeting, so you can see a measurable accomplishment from the interaction. Otherwise, you may be wasting time that is better spent elsewhere.
- Too Much Time on Email
According to 2012 article in the Washington Post, Americans spend roughly 28 percent or more of their workweek reading, writing, and responding to email. That is literally hundreds of hours per year working on emails.
While they are especially useful in many circumstances, emails are not always the answer to internal communications. Most, especially, long emails are rarely the answer to inner-office interaction, since they are often not thoroughly read anyway. Sometimes, it’s best and faster to just pick up the phone.
- Red-tape and Roundabouts
Another major time-waster in many larger business offices is an excessive need for approvals for an employee to take action on a project. One reviewer and approver is perfectly reasonable, but when an employee has to go through three layers of management to push an action through on a project, there’s definitely a problem.
With business, there’s always another way, and this case is no exception. There is a less roundabout way to get the job done and ensure it’s still at the expected level of quality. You just have to figure it out. Especially in cases where the approval process has become mostly cursory, let it go. If it’s not absolutely necessary, take it out of the equation and use that time for more productive tasks.
- Underutilizing Your People
Unless you’re doing it alone, employees are a huge component to your business. They are the lifeblood to getting the job done. Unfortunately, many leadership teams today have forgotten that. With so many aspects of business being run by computers and measured in numbers, it’s easy to forget that you’re dealing with real people day in and day out.
A good entrepreneur builds his business more around the people than around the processes and policies. Good people will be what makes the different between failure and success, so find them and be good to them. They will be the core of what makes your business strong, if you motivate them and use their talents accordingly.
- Stifling Management Team
One final aspect that can be a problem for some businesses is the attitude of the management team towards employees. A good manager can turn an entire office around, while a bad one can run it into the ground quickly—even with highly capable employees on staff.
Usually, however, the problem is somewhere in between. How management approaches employee ideas and brainstorming, how open they are to listening without judgement, can make a big difference in morale and productivity. Strong, highly effective managers encourage their employees without judgement and will listen to ideas with an open mind. The right attitude can make all the difference.
While your business may or may not be struggling in the areas listed above, there could be other areas of weakness within your organization. Look for time-wasters and common activities that are not producing the results they were intended to produce. Then, do what any good entrepreneur would do—get rid of them and find something that does work. Adapt and step outside of the status quo, and you might find the key to your success along the way.
About the Author – Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .
Top Photo Courtesy of Automotive Social @ Flickr CC.