Starting your own business is no small accomplishment, and growing that business to the size where you alone can no longer complete the work that needs to be done is even greater.
But just because you’ve launched a successful business does not mean your management skills are on point. Especially in the case of a small business where you will be working closely with your employees, it is important not to develop any bad habits. You don’t have the luxury of disappearing into an office and dealing out punishment and rewards from on high.
Below is a list of five mistakes small business owners sometimes make.
Now I’m not saying to hand over the keys to your business and set someone loose one day into the job. If you liked someone enough to hire them in the first place, you should probably have a degree of trust in them. When you first start your business it is your baby—and it always will be. But if you are at the point where you’re hiring employees to help out, congratulations! You’re doing something right.
Now let them do their job.
Like with any relationship, hiring an employee opens you up and makes you vulnerable, and that’s scary. Especially the first time. Here’s the bright side—if they applied, they want to be working for you at your company. So sit back and enjoy it. Sometimes you may get burned but don’t let that break you, because everything can be learned from experience and if you can’t evolve, your business certainly won’t either.
At the beginning, it was just you. Or you and your partner. You had your hands in everything and were the one who got things done. You’re the reason your business is where it is now.
It can be hard letting go, but your business is a grown up now and it’s got to go out in the world and get some life experience. You’ll still be there as its foundation, its roots—but other people are going to have an influence on it now and that’s not a bad thing.
If you’ve picked out talented employees, you can pat yourself on the back at your team- building abilities. But keeping someone benched so you can attempt to balance everything will only result in a subpar job that reflects badly on your business. Grow your team with good workers, and you’ll be stronger for it.
You are the boss and you deserve respect. Yes, you are in charge and yes, you have the power to hire and fire. What you choose to divulge to your employees is entirely your decision. However, good communication is the backbone of good management. Make it clear what you expect of your employees, and always check in to make sure it’s getting done right. Even if you want your employee to be entirely self-sufficient, you need to be clear on that so they can set their own goals.
Be as open as possible. Speaking from experience as both employee and employer, the worst feeling is having new work crop up around you with no warning. Not communicating with and listening to your employees creates a chaotic environment, and no one wants that!
You may be thinking “I pay my employees for their work, what more do they want?”
This isn’t a matter of creating a safe space for employees that needs to be propped up with your approval, it’s about showing decent human kindness to acknowledge that they are people too.
It only takes you one moment to say “thank you”, a phrase that causes immediate ripples. You may not even know that your employee is having a bad day and once they hear that, they know what they’re doing is not going unnoticed.
Even if they’re having a good day, it can only make it better. So take a moment. Say thank you.
Boxer bossing is a term I like to use, in which the employee is the punching bag. Not physically, but mentally. The most common practices of boxer bossing include:
• Using your employee as the scapegoat for anything that goes wrong. A computer program isn’t working properly? It must be them. Supplies lower than you think they should be? Must be theft.
• Assuming your employee’s time is yours. All the time. Just because you run a small business and maybe this person is your only employee does not mean they are as invested in your business as you are. Be careful about delegating outside of work hours.
We’re all human and we all have outbursts, but if these are tactics you find yourself guilty of and they just seem to keep happening, it might be a good idea to re-evaluate and not wear your team down.
A business is only as good as the people running it, and avoiding these five mistakes will put yours on the path to being the best!