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Strategic Planning in Small Business – Is There Such Thing?

Posted on July 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

“The vast majority of small business owners do not plan”, I think that we can regard this statement as a ruling. But why is it so? As far as my knowledge reach, the reason for this derives from two different aspects: First, the lack of time that every small business owner face, which exists mainly because of the centrality of the small business owner in the day-to-day management tasks that are crucial for the maintenance of the small business. Second, the skills, or lack of skills, to establish a profound strategic planning process that will evolve into strategic plan that will lay out the small business goals and objectives and the necessary resources needed to achieve those objectives. Such skills are not as common even when we are dealing with large business top managers, but contrary to small business owners large business top managers do have the access to professionals in the field of strategic planning and the necessary resources to hire them, and this is what makes the whole difference.

After saying all this, several questions needed to be answer: do all small business owners sentenced to lag behind their corporate colleagues regarding strategic planning? Is there something that the small business owner can do in order to narrow the gap? And if there is, what will be the benefits to the small business owner?

Small business owners will never have the necessary resources needed to close the gap with large businesses regarding strategic planning process and implementation. But frankly I don’t think that they should put neither their time nor their money in the elusive quest to narrow this gap. What small business owners can and should do is to understand that a small business is not a large business regarding its abilities and needs with the only exception that it’s employ fewer employees. If this understanding become a common knowledge to the small business owner, it is rather obvious that he or she should adopt different approach regarding strategic planning.

The idea that strategic planning at small business should not come in a rigid form, that dictate a step by step formula what the small business should do and how it’s need to act at every possible situation, opens a whole new set of alternatives to engage at some sort of strategic planning from which the owner and its business will be the main beneficiaries. The benefits to the small business from engaging in any sort of strategic planning could be as follow: The understanding of the small business owner how he sees the objectives of its small business as for today and what he plans to the future. Defining the resources needed to achieve those objectives and plans. Insight what are and will be the risks while trying to implement its present and future plans.

Build a Small Business Network to Help Your Business Succeed

Posted on July 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

As a small business owner you can often feel alone, even when surrounded by many people.

How is this possible? The answer is that many small business owners keep their business challenges to themselves. They don’t want employees, or customers, or suppliers, or family and friends for that matter, to know that they have business issues that might be difficult to manage.

If this describes your business environment, consider building a business network to help you manage your challenges and grow your business.

What is a small business network? In this instance it is a network of either similar or dissimilar small businesses that work together to help each other solve their business issues and also to help each other manage and grow their businesses.

Let’s examine an example of a small business network for similar businesses.

A group of between eight and twelve business owners in the same industry but in non-competing locations set up a peer business network. They get together (either face-to-face or online) at a regularly scheduled day and time (maybe monthly or quarterly) to discuss their small business strategy and issues and they each ask for, and get, feedback from the rest of the group — all experienced business owners of similar type businesses.

Some of the discussion might center on human resource issues such as training, hiring, firing, turn-over rates, and comparative wages or salaries. Other discussions might be on common customer centric issues such as turn-around times, over promising and under delivering, quality, service, handling difficult customers. Some sessions might focus on business planning, marketing planning, sales planning or results from plans.

To form this type of group, business owners could meet through national or international industry trade associations. To make this type of network work, the participants must sign confidentiality agreements and non-compete agreements — even though today the businesses are non-competing, there is no guarantee that tomorrow they won’t be competing. It is important that legal advice is obtained at the start of setting up this type of network — your group will need to know what is allowed or not allowed by government competition acts.

The advantage of this type of network is that all participants already know and understand the industry and can bring that knowledge and expertise to the discussions.

Now, let’s examine an example of a small business network for dissimilar businesses.

This type of network would work best in a group of not less than eight and not many more than twelve business owners (too small and the input is weakened; too large and it’s hard to have a voice or hear what’s going on). This group would get together on a regular basis (likely monthly) and review each business’ progress, operations, challenges, or the designated topic of the month. Since this is a network of non-competing, dissimilar businesses, the group could be local and meetings could be face-to-face.

An advantage for local meetings is that the group would be operating in the same economic climate and would have a thorough understanding of what that means to local businesses. It would be relatively easy to form a local group by meeting businesses through local small business associations.

Topics could be selected in advance by month, by quarter, by year and each business owner would attend a network meeting prepared to discuss issues surrounding that topic. For example, one month’s topic could be about reducing the cost of financing and sharing tips and tactics. Another month’s topic could be about the use of the best and most successful recruiting methods for that local area. Another month’s topic could be on creating a business plan and the necessary tools to do so.

In this type of network it is also important to have confidentiality agreements and non-compete agreements at the start of the network meetings. You will want to have the assurance that if someone leaves the group that they won’t share confidential information with others.

The advantage of this type of network is that you can more easily set this group up in your local market so that face-to-face meetings would not be difficult and that you might actually get more out-of-the-box thinking from business owners outside of the industry who are not constrained by past practices.

For both types of networks, use an outside facilitator to ensure that the group stays on track and that each member gets out of the network what it needs (its reason for joining). The concept of a business network is to provide small business owners with a small business advisory group to test solutions, find answers, change old ways of doing things, and more. In large businesses, that type of network support typically comes from other departments or management. In small businesses, a strong small business network is part of an overall business community that becomes part of the infrastructure for your business’ success.

The Ambiguity Of Small Business Definition

Posted on May 29, 2019 in Uncategorized

When different people are using the phrase ‘small business’, do they refer to a common set of definitions? Like, how many employees are listed in the payroll? Or, the number of years it’s operative? A literature review of 23 papers, which have been published from 1958 to 2002, tries to shed light on this issue. The review revealed an inconsistency regarding both characterization and definition of small business.

The variety of definition used in these papers unable to set an agreeable format for small business definition. Mayer and Goldstein (1961) define small business as an employer of less then 200 employees. Potts (1977) set the barrier on 20 employees in addition to a minimum eight years that the business is operative. Robinson (1982) define firm as small if the number of employees is less then 50, the annual sales is under three million dollars and it’s operate as sole ownership. Covin and Slevin (1989) define small business according to number of employees – more then five or less then 500, as well as a minimum of five years that the business is operative.

Rue and Ibrahim (1998) define small firm as an employer of more then 15 employees. Perry (2001) set an upper limit of 500 employees as a sole identifier for business to be regard as small. The review clarify that the ambiguity is stable over time. The lack of uniform definition in the sixtieth continued throughout the decades into the millennium. The industries targeted by the different scholars do have one common base; the focus was on industries with low to average economic growth such as manufacturing, trade (retail, wholesale) and service.

Scholars have addressed the problematicalness regarding the inconsistency of small business definition for quite time, Golde (1964) which examine small manufacturing employers with less then 500 employees, argue that it’s an arbitrarily definition which can adequately feet non manufacturing firms. Welsh and White (1981) claims that small business tend to group in certain industries, such as – wholesalers, retailers, service and manufacturing. Peterson et al., (1986) note that the most common definition is the one that used by the Small Business Administration (SBA), in part, that definition state that small business can be define as one if both its ownership and operation conducted independently, and it’s not dominant at the industry which is operate in.

D’amboise and Muldowney (1988) write about the complexity of small business definition, which can be a result of the variety and different types of firms this phrase try to encompass. Pickle and Abrahamson (1990) address the question, what is a small business? There answer is that some will regard small business as such if it’s employ certain number of employees, others will claim that small business is one that limits his operation to local market, and part will classify business as small according to it’s nature (e.g., local pharmacy, clothing store, jewelry store).

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