Written by Jeff Reid, Incubator Director of the WT Enterprise Center. For more information about the WT Enterprise Center visit www.IncubationWorks.com.
Working “on” the business rather than “in” the business is a challenge for the small business owner. Most small businesses are typified by a linear model in which the owner provides support to the team, the customers and the business, rather than a circular model in which the owner supports the team, the team supports the customers, the customers support the business which ultimately supports the owner. If the small business owner desires to grow the company beyond his/her individual capacity, he/she will need to adopt the latter model.
Although a strong supportive customer base is critical for the ongoing success of a business, a team of well trained and customer centric employees is vital as well. A functioning team allows the owner the opportunity to leverage his/her time in order to work “on” the business. As you examine your business consider the following team related questions.
- Do you have a vision for your company? – Although not directly “team” related, it is difficult, if not impossible, to be an effective leader if the owner does not have a defined direction for the company.
- Have you clearly communicated your vision? – It is the responsibility of the owner to communicate his/her vision to the team, not the responsibility of the team to guess what the vision is.
- Is there an organizational chart in place? – It would be beneficial to develop two organizational charts, one which matches the current size of the company and a second which lines up with what the owner wants the business to look like in the future.
- Does staffing line up with the organizational chart? – Based on the company’s present size; is staffing sufficient, top heavy or are employees having to work overtime? Overstaffing is a drain on profits while understaffing can contribute to poor employee morale.
- Are roles/responsibilities clearly defined? – If these are unclear or poorly defined it is extremely difficult to hold employees accountable to expected levels of performance and creates frustration for the owner as well as the employee.
- Do you hold regularly scheduled team meetings? – Holding a team meeting just for the sake of having a meeting is an inefficient use of everyone’s time, but timely and properly conducted meetings help to keep employees informed and involved.