Great Ideas for your Small Business: Take This Self-Help Quiz for Managers
Self-help quizzes and do-it-yourself diagnostics are popular features in women’s magazines, but rarely appear in business books. Yet it’s worth taking a few minutes to think about how you are coping with the toughest job in America—running a small business.
Being an entrepreneur is incredibly stressful. Despite computers, cellular phones, pagers, scanners, and e-mail, an entrepreneur’s life is not simple. For most of us, it’s a chaotic juggling act.
So spend a few minutes with this quiz. There are no right or wrong answers. It’s meant to provoke thought—and action.
There are three sections: Management and Personnel, Money, and Time.
Management and Personnel
- Do you dread it when someone walks into your office to speak to you privately?
- When was the last time you had breakfast or lunch with your key employees?
- When was the last time you hosted an offsite staff meeting?
- Have you implemented any new ideas proposed by your staff since the beginning of the year?
- If you had a magic wand and could vaporize aggravating employees, who would be on your list?
- Do you spend an inordinate amount of time each day handling personnel conflicts?
- When was the last time you hired someone?
- Fired someone?
- Do you offer onsite training or tuition reimbursement?
- Do you have a mentor or colleague to call when things aren’t going well?
Based on your answers, you might want to make some personnel changes. Life is too short to work with anyone who gives you a headache or a stomachache. In a small business, every person counts. And, since you’re the boss, you can choose who you work with every day.
If there is a “storm cloud” on your staff, think seriously about replacing that person. Why pay someone money to make your life miserable? On the positive side, take advantage of your staff’s bright ideas. You are paying them to be smart and creative. Let them do their job.
- When was the last time you spoke with your banker?
- Have you thought about next year’s tax return?
- Without opening your business checkbook, how much money is in your account?
- How many of your accounts are past due?
- How much money do you owe to vendors?
- Are sales higher or lower than last year’s at this point?
- Do you have enough money to buy the new equipment you need to boost productivity?
- Is your accountant doing everything legally possible to minimize your taxes?
- Is he or she up-to-date on the new tax laws and provisions?
- How many new clients or customers have you gained since January? How many have you lost?
Too many business owners play ostrich when it comes to facing financial issues. You need to monitor your cash flow every day, every week, and every month. Slow-paying or no- paying customers are not worth having, and it may be time to fire them. Be sure to communicate openly with your banker—bankers hate surprises.
- How much time do you take for yourself every day?
- Do you feel exhausted before going to work?
- Are you working longer hours, but not accomplishing much?
- Is your to-do list longer than your shopping list?
- Do you have trouble keeping track of phone numbers and important notes and papers?
- Is your desk a mess and your to-read pile sky-high?
- Do your family and friends say you look tired?
- When was the last time you took two weeks off?
- How many times a day do you laugh? (It’s important!)
- Is your Palm Pilot or Visor overloaded with data?
No one is busier than a business owner. But being busy does not necessarily mean being productive. If you find you have little or no time for yourself every day, make some. Try taking a short walk or afternoon nap rather than gulping coffee. Ask a staffer to clip interesting newspaper and magazine articles and put them in a file. Then tote them along to read while you are waiting in line for appointments. Bring your calendar home at the beginning of the month and ask your family to book some time with you. Put those dates in ink and don’t change them. Taking care of yourself should be your first priority, because so many people depend on you.