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Essentials of small business management

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by Staff Writer

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Successfully running a business in the 21st century requires a foundation of proven business principles. It also requires technological knowledge that wasn’t required a generation ago. Administering business functions, and marketing products and services in today’s world, is a different game than it used to be.

Here’s what you should know about small business management, administration, and marketing today.

Small business management

A 2012 survey by eVoice — a provider of toll-free phone numbers — found that of all the technological tools available to the small business owner, none can compare to simply having an extra hour in the day to get things done. More than half of survey participants reported they would pay at least $200 for an extra hour in the workday.

As for the most difficult aspects of running a small business, participants listed these top three:

  1. Fulfilling multiple roles (53%)
  2. Having enough time to get it all done (50%)
  3. Making a profit (35%)

Technology is a double-edged sword in small business management. While devices can — and do — save time, if they’re not managed well they can lead to fragmentation and excessive multitasking, which sap productivity.

Business owners must manage technology effectively, in addition to having good people-management skills:

  • Delegation skills: Trusting tasks to proven workers can be hard, but necessary.
  • Mentoring and developing of key employees: The more key employees understand the business, the more they can contribute.
  • Understanding of group dynamics: Balancing skill sets and personalities leads to more effective teams.
  • Smart decision making: Seeking input from talented managers and key employees can give you the insight you need to make wise business decisions.

Small business administration

Business owners who are accustomed to hard work and handling everything can be tempted to take on administrative functions themselves, particularly if funds are tight. However, business administration for only two or three employees can be complex and very demanding of your time. And the more benefits you offer, the more complex administration will be.

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Outsourcing functions like payroll and benefits administration may seem like a capital outlay you don’t need, but if you do all the administration yourself, one run-in with the IRS or misunderstanding with a health insurer can cripple your business or possibly shutter it altogether. Administrative service providers for small businesses include:

  • Insurers
  • Banks
  • Payroll services
  • Investment brokers for 401(K) plans

Online reputation

Your business’s online reputation is intimately intertwined with your marketing. While online reputation can’t be completely controlled, it can be managed to augment your marketing efforts. The goal of online reputation management is to make your business look its best online.

Search engine results can be misleading or plain wrong, and negative online reviews can hurt your business. At the same time, positive online reviews and proactive online engagement through blogs and social networking can give your business a real boost.

Laws have not caught up with the speed with which people can share information on the internet, and there is little to protect you from people who want to damage your online reputation. Specialists in online reputation management, however, know the steps to take to keep search information about your business accurate and up-to-date, and to keep your online reputation as positive as possible. Online reputation management may be a new aspect of small business marketing, but it is indispensable in the internet age.

Putting it all together

Making small business administration, management, and marketing functions run smoothly is a massive undertaking, and doing it effectively requires a leap of faith for many entrepreneurs. It isn’t easy to let go of functions you’re used to doing, even if they have become major time burdens.

With a strategic combination of developing key employees to handle important business management tasks, outsourcing administration when you can, and staying on top of your business’s online reputation, you can keep all systems running … and free yourself up to do what you loved doing in the first place.