Managing Your Home Based Online Business – 2Written by Roy Thomsitt
In first part of this series of articles, on managing your online business at home, I wrote about many management responsibilities and functions you have rolled into one if you have your own sole proprietor business, with no staff. Your management task is perhaps most difficult of all. You have to manage yourself, in all those different areas of your business such as finance, marketing, purchasing and computing.
I believe that if you think of your new home business as having different areas of management for you to concentrate on, you are more likely to succeed long term. If you can adopt some of techniques of good management, you will end up with a more sound business that will stand test of time. You will be a better decision maker, and it is decisions that dictate progress or downfall of any business. Decision making needs to be unemotional and as scientific as possible, but as much as anything needs to be based on common sense. Good management is often a matter of common sense, and that is why I believe you, whatever your background, can run a successful business limited only by your ambitions.
The other virtue you will need in abundance is patience, and this an area where you definitely need to manage yourself. Impatience brings emotion into your decision making. It also brings self criticism, or criticism of others, when none is either deserved or necessary. Patience, realism and common sense combined will contribute greatly to making you a good business manager. With those three attributes, you will be well placed to learn skills of management in context of your own small business. You will be able to learn how different functions of a business relate to each other and interact.
That is not easy, but over time, if you apply yourself, it will all fall into place. This is where patience is vital. Your age or background do not necessarily matter. I know that in my late 20’s I did not really understand business and how it all fitted together. At 30, I knew I needed some sort of professional qualification, and I decided on management accountancy. The syllabus was tough, with 18 exams over 2 and a half to 5 years. What surprised me was variety of subjects to cover. There were exams in company law, business law, economics, corporate planning, marketing, production, decision making, cost accounting, management accounting, mathematics and statistics. Each subject was very different. Then, at end, I suddenly realized that all of them knitted together. The ones I hated (law) and loved (marketing) all had a place in scheme of things.
You, of course, have no need to study or be an expert in all of those things. But it does help to at least be aware that some of them are, in their own way, critical to your success. If you are taking a long term view of things, which you should be if you are serious about having your own home business, you have plenty of time to learn about those subjects that are most critical for your business:
Whatever your business, this is a very critical function for you to understand and manage, so when it comes to learning all you can, financial management is a priority. Much of this is again common sense, and realism, and there are many tools around to help you keep good financial records. But as I mentioned before, it is decisions that dictate progress or downfall of any business. All decisions you make will have a financial impact on your business. However, good financial records alone will not bring reward of better decision making. If you want to maximize profits of your home business, you may find it helps to have other, non-financial records to aid your decisions. I will discuss this more in part 3 of this series of articles.
Make An Action Plan To Improve Customer ServiceWritten by Kevin Dervin
Customer Service is a critical factor for keeping your clients coming back and ensuring they’ll refer you to others. Growing your business will be a difficult task at best if you don’t perform, meet and exceed your client’s expectations, and provide service that creates customers for life.
Customer service is all about customer’s perception. You have to do more than just get job done. You must deliver on all things (big and small) that affect relationship with your client. Consider opportunities for improvement in following areas.
1. Setting/Reviewing Expectations. Do you work with your client to set clear, appropriate, realistic expectations that you can always meet or exceed? Are you clear about responsibilities (both yours’ and client’s), timelines, and expectations of results? Are you then willing to go back and review these expectations with client at key points along way?
2. Communication. Do you have mechanisms in place to ensure you’re communicating with clients at every stage of engagement, from sales process through to completion of project? Being clear about where you’re at, what’s been completed, what’s coming up next, who’s responsible, what results you can expect, etc.? Has client ever had to ask you for these things?