Have you ever seen a circus performer juggle several balls while simultaneously doing a dance or riding a bicycle? As a busy entrepreneur, you have probably come to the conclusion that your multiple responsibilities are just as demanding. After all, in how many directions can you be pulled before you drop one of those balls or forget something important? Whether you’re a clown or a Fortune 500 CEO, it’s equally important that you keep an expert handle on all of your tasks and commitments. Here are some suggestions that can help you multi-task so well that it just might seem effortless to your employees.
Your Managers Are Your Eyes and Ears
If the people who manage your operations for you are in lock step with you in your juggling act, your chances of success rise dramatically. Creating this camaraderie is one of your key responsibilities as a business owner. Although you might not have a great deal of contact with your line staff, you do collaborate frequently with your managers. If the lines of communication between you and your supervisors are open and clear, they will feel free to alert you about situations that could potentially harm the flow of your business if allowed to fester.
Just how do you keep your managers happy? It’s not all that different from how you act with your spouse or romantic partner:
- Listen at least as much as you talk. Truly hear what your manager is saying.
- Although you are in a position of authority, that doesn’t mean you’re always right. Be prepared to listen respectfully to constructive criticism, sticking to your guns when you believe it is in the best interest of the company, but also making visible changes if there was some merit to your manager’s opinions.
- Reward success. Validation can certainly come in the form of financial bonuses, but even a pat on the back or a public shout-out are appreciated and remembered. It shows that you have recognized your manager’s hard work and are willing to give credit where credit is due.
- A happy manager who feels genuinely respected will, in turn, pass his or her good feelings down the line to your general staff. The plant that has been well-nurtured at the root will have beautiful leaves and bear healthy fruit.
Managing Your Suppliers & Manufacturers
Establishing and maintain a good relationship with your suppliers, the people who manufacture and deliver your products is essential to running a successful business. If these people aren’t on board, you will have no products to sell. The below guidelines can start you on the right path:
- Value your suppliers’ time. You’re not the only one running a business; your suppliers are, too. That’s why it is necessary to be efficient and timely in your dealings with them. Always be organized and proactive whenever you meet with them, conduct your orders or accept deliveries.
- Always pay on time. Nothing causes problems more quickly than outstanding balances. If an unavoidable issue has arisen that is causing you a delay, let your suppliers know immediately. Then, after the immediate fire is put out, sit down and try to think of ways to keep it from ever occurring in the future.
- Be discriminating in your choice of suppliers. More is not always better; in fact, you can establish smoother working relationships with a select few than you can with a great number.
- Take the time to clearly specify your expectations and needs. After a little bit of negotiation, all of you will have a clear sense of who, what, where and when. Paying a little extra attention at the outset lessens the chances of miscommunication down the line.
- Don’t forget to take the time to build a relationship. Sure, you and your suppliers have companies to run. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the time to be polite and friendly in your dealings with them. The more you can come to know each other as human beings and not just as cogs in the wheel, the easier it will be to overcome any obstacles that may come up as you deal with each other.
- Use tools and software to help. Gone are the days of lists written on the backs of invoice forms. These days, software abounds that will enable you to effortlessly keep track of your suppliers, upcoming delivery dates, costs and transactions. In addition, these programs provide ways for you to monitor your inventory levels so that you can inform your suppliers in a timely fashion when you will need to restock. Once you have put these automated systems in place, you can devote more of your time to running and expanding your business.
Inventory management is, in fact, so important that it deserves some special guidelines of its own.
- Having too much of your products on hand can erode your working capital and eat into your profit margin. Furthermore, merchandise left on the shelf for too long can depreciate in value, get damaged or become obsolete. On the other hand, you can’t afford to run out of inventory before your next delivery comes. To avoid both of these pitfalls, use your past sales to dictate your future delivery schedules. Groovv makes this even easier for you as inventory management is already integrated into the POS processing system. As you continue to accept credit cards or cash and your customers continue to purchase, it will be reflected in your sales reports and inventory management portal, which will allow you to more easily stay on top of your supplies.
- Prioritize. Understand that 80 percent of demand will be generated by 20 percent of the goods you stock. Give most of your time and attention to this top one-fifth of your available items. Take the time to review how well they are continuing to sell, forecast accordingly and order them more frequently, as demand warrants.
- Protect all of your hard work. Even the most high-tech, organized inventory system can be catastrophically derailed unless you have a backup plan in place. What if, for instance, your state-of-the-art computer is stolen or a fire damages your facility, relegating your written records to a pile of ashes? Avoid this disastrous scenario by also backing up your system elsewhere, perhaps even to a removable thumb drive. As an entrepreneur, you are in the exciting and sometimes overwhelming position of being in the center of all the action. In the end, it is you who are responsible for the strength of your managers and your employees, the healthy relationships you have with your suppliers, and the steady and efficient flow of your inventory. Whether your store, restaurant or manufacturing company is in its infancy or has become a fixture in your community, careful attention to all of these aspects remains vitally important. As long as you keep these factors in mind and employ useful techniques to remain organized and efficient, you are likely to succeed in the end. Just as the delighted crowd heartily applauds the amazing juggler, you will eventually receive accolades in the form of happy staff, satisfied suppliers and flowing profits.