Small Business Management

In today’s Lean Start Up culture of small business, the major thought among many owners and operators is the need to output products and services at an optimal quality and high level of productivity that satisfies market demand. Naturally, the adherence to these principles increases the probability of the business to experience robust revenue and profit growth in addition to increasing market share. For the most part, these outcomes are desired highly by small business owners, but they also pose a considerable business risk in the form of employee mismanagement.

The labor component of any business easily can account for at least 30{704ab8bb6b6da934fc7611b8f49156f09d417d273c533fa7e522933f5606e59d} of the total cost structure depending on the business model utilized (i.e. manufacturing, retail, service). Thus, management prioritizes its monitoring and oversight of this cost component to ensure proper balance and alignment with production output and ultimately market demand. In doing this, though, employees are often treated as components of a business’s production cycle instead of human beings. The tendency of management to treat and manage employees as objects rather than people can have a negative impact on the business both in the short and long-term.

Owners of small businesses can and should learn to “lead” and not manage their employees. Webster’s Dictionary Online defines management as “the act or process of deciding how to use something”. Since most small businesses consist of no more than 5 employees including the owner, there’s a close camaraderie among employees and owners that helps in making the production process more flexible and agile in regards to changes in market demand. The downside to this strength is that management fails to learn how to lead their staff. As a result, employees are not empowered to think in creative ways to enhance the business’s competitive advantage for the long-term. Instead, they are relegated to menial and automated tasks similar to a machine. We are not discounting or understating the value of an employee that performs menial and automated tasks, but it’s management’s responsibility to ensure that each and every employee’s ability is maximized for the business’s success.

Two key small business management tips for “leading” employees are:

Tip One: Reward and Recognize Employees Early and Often
The implementation of this first tip is easy and straightforward. The power of getting results with this tip is from a commitment to consistency. Small business owners should set up a personnel reward and recognition system that incentives their staff for taking calculated risk within their scope of work to think creatively in enhancing the long-term competitive advantage of the business. Examples include gift cards, certificates, novelty items, etc. The goal here is to reinforce behavior that adds value to the business and these come from leading them to think creatively of ways to do their jobs better and more efficiently.

Tip Two: Delegate Effectively
This second tip focuses on empowering your employees rather than micro managing them. Effective managers know that the line between empowerment and micro managing is slim, but with experience and foresight, managers can implement this tip with ease as well. Empowering employees is all about clearly communicating expectations and vesting authority in them to accomplish the desired goal. Delegating effectively holds amazing value for owners of small businesses because it’s a way for them to replicate themselves exponentially.

Business Manager Vital Cog in Business

A Business Manager is a professional who is entrusted with the job of managing a business firm or a corporate enterprise or a private enterprise on behalf of a company or individual with the outcome of earning profits and revenues. There are several areas where a Business Manager can use his or her knowledge and expertise to serve – accounting, auditing, budgeting and taxes, data processing and analysis, finance, HR and personnel, marketing and public relations, operations analysis, purchasing and so on. Besides there are also specific technical areas in which a Business Manager can have specialized knowledge and skills like computer programming, e-commerce, law, science etc.

Even small businesses or home businesses sometimes typically have Managers doing multiple roles that focus on the company’s marketability and reach. In such a scenario, the Business Manager shares much of the owner’s duties and responsibilities in running the business successfully and in some cases, earning a share of the profits.

There is no doubt that the role of a Manager is very essential and crucial to a business. As we have seen in the modern era, even artists and private individuals like musicians, dancers, painters, writers, sportspersons etc. have Managers who manager their business affairs, professional commitments and financial matters. Hence, the role of a Manager cannot be taken lightly. In the context of a governmental agency or a military agency, the position of Business Manager would be equivalent to that of an Executive Officer or a Chief of Staff.

Functions or Role

Overseeing the operations in small, large or private enterprises involves many specific functions. Generally, the duties of a Business Manager extend to:

• Developing and implementing budgets
• Fixing business goals and targets
• Hiring, training and evaluating employees
• Supervising and overseeing duties of support staff
• Handling payments and contracts
• Managing business commitments, travel schedules etc.

Qualifications

Most Managers require a basic qualification of a bachelor’s degree in Business Management which has many in-built modules in tandem with the duties listed above. They also need to have excellent communication skills, great inter-personal relations, be adept in promotional and marketing abilities and have contacts with media agencies and networks. In many businesses, salespersons who have worked through the company for many years handling several responsibilities are promoted to Managers levels and entrusted with greater responsibility.

Public profile

In a private enterprise such as a Manager handling the portfolio of an artist or sportsperson, the role of a Business Manager is very much in the public eye. Several past business managers have been caught in financial and personal scandals ranging from negligence of professional commitments to fraudulent practices in financial matters, illegal and unethical management of assets, swindling of revenues etc. which can be a serious setback to professional enterprise.

Business Management

If you are a business manager then you will know the importance to company productivity of effective business management. However, business process management software and financial management are only one part of the task. The best way to go about business management is to make sure that the staff you lead are happy and have clearly defined goals. With great people skills, effective management is a hard task to accomplish. If you are struggling to meet the demands of your business management obligations, then here are some tips about how you can improve your management skills.

1. Not changing from a worker to a manager

If you have recently moved into business management, then it can be tough to make the transition from ordinary worker to manager. Although you want your employees to feel that you can identify with them, you need to remember that you are now in control and have more responsibilities than before. For effective business management you have to think about more than just your own needs and expectations, and begin to be responsible for your team as well. If you can do this, then you will make the transition from worker to manager more easily.

2. Not setting clear goals and expectations

Although you might know exactly what your team should be doing, unless you tell them what you want they will be left goalless and unproductive. For business management processes to work, you need to clearly define your expectations and goals to your team. If your employees cannot see the goals they need to attain, they will have no sense of achievement or of where their work is taking them. If you want your employees to do more than simply pick up their wages each month, you need to use clear goal setting as a major part of your management strategy. These goals should incorporate not only the expectations of each person, but the goals for the use of business process management software and future financial goals.

3. Not enough delegation

You might think you can run the business on your own, but this just isn’t true. Perhaps the biggest business management mistake is a failure to delegate duties to other employees. The attitude that ‘if you don’t do it yourself it won’t be done right’ will only make your working hours spiral out of control, whilst leaving your employees feeling unappreciated and unmotivated. Trust your employees to carry out the tasks you set them, and use your talents in business management and leadership to push the business forward. The more you delegate duties, the more time you will have to control your management actions and make the team work more efficiently.

4. Failure to learn

What worked five years ago might not work today, and so you need to stay up to date with the latest business management techniques. This is particularly true in the areas of financial management and business process management software. Keeping business process management software current will allow you to stay competitive and keep efficiency levels high. Don’t be afraid to learn new techniques and embrace technology. If you do this, you will find that your management skills will improve and your team will remain effective for many years to come.

The Ultimate Photography Business Management

As a professional photographer, you’re also a small business owner, I know that administration can take up a lot more time than I like.

I’m talking about:

  • scheduling appointments,
  • processing payments,
  • running reports,
  • managing clients,
  • managing staff,
  • dealing with supplies and inventory,
  • marketing, and
  • all the other “background” tasks that keep my business going.

That’s why in recent years I’ve become very interested in embracing technology to automate and centralize as much of these “administrative” activities as possible.

As a photography business owner, you no doubt love doing photography – but in order to do what you love, you must administer your business and get new business through marketing.

For example, how much time do you spend managing your appointment schedule or dealing with payments by cheque or cash, or sending out appointment reminders to minimize no-shows?

These tasks are necessary, but do take up a lot of time.

Of course no software will replace you and your vision, but you can use software to automate some processes to free up your administrative time. The key is getting the right photography business management software that won’t cost you a fortune.

Unless you shoot exclusively in a studio, you’re likely off-site regularly photographing clients. If you spend a lot of time off-site, it’s tough to administer your business – unless you’re able to access your photography business management software.

How You Can Bring Your Office Anywhere With You

The easiest way to bring your office with you is with a mobile computer and using cloud-computing software. The mobile computer is simple – an iPad or laptop will do. It’s the cloud computing software that you need.

What is Cloud Computing Software?

It’s software you can access entirely on the Internet. It’s also called web-based software and it’s growing dramatically in popularity. The days of desk-top software that requires installation on a local computer are disappearing.

Have you ever been on a photo shoot and get a call during down-time for an appointment? If you don’t have your schedule available, you have to call them back – possibly losing the booking. If you have complete access to an online schedule, you can book the appointment right away.

Automate Photography Bookings

If you offer set photography packages, you might want to consider offering clients the ability to book their own time on an online schedule they can access with an Internet connection. You could create a web page explaining your packages and the time required.

Put the control in your clients’ hands and they’ll be delighted they can book a photo shoot without minimal hassle. You’re delighted because you booked a client without getting involved.

Reduce No-Shows

One of the worst money-losers in any business that books appointments – such as a photography business are no-shows. Yet, you’re probably too busy to sit at a phone each day making reminder calls.

What if you could automate reminders? This is ideal, and with top-of-the-line photography business management software this is not a problem.

How it works is your online scheduling software is linked to a powerful e-mail delivery software application that automatically sends out e-mail and text messaging reminders to clients at a time before the appointment you specify. Even if you prevent 2 no-shows in a month, the software will pay for itself.

Running a Photography Business is More than Managing a Schedule

  • Do you hire independent contractors or have staff photographers?
  • Do you offer payment by credit card?
  • Do you have any time left to market to your existing and past clients?

You can certainly get individual photography business software applications to manage each of these 3 types of administrative activities. You can get payroll and staff management software.

It’s not hard to find credit card processors to integrate into your system. And of course there is no shortage of marketing software applications available – especially e-mail and text messaging software services.

But, if you could centralize all these types of administrative activities in one software application, you’ll not only save time learning how to use it all, you’ll save time and hassle integrating it all together… because it already is integrated.

What I’m talking about here is ramping up your administrative efficiency by using an all-in-one photography business software that offers all the systems and processes you need to manage your photography business.

I’m a huge fan of all-in-one software packages because I need only learn one type of software. How much software have you bought only to never really use it fully because you didn’t take the time to learn it.

I’ve got all kinds of software on my computer just sitting there. The software I do use extensively is that which is central to running my business and that basically manages most of my administrative activities.

Here’s the Real Value of All-In-One Photography Business Software

The true asset of your photography business is your database of clients – past and present. Those clients not only provide you work, but refer you to their friends, family, and acquaintances. Your database is your gold and so you must harness that database in order to build your business.

If you have different software applications managing individual tasks, you likely have a mish-mash of contact lists and client profiles scattered in various files and software applications.

When you centralize your entire photography business management software, you’re able to centralize your client database – and then leverage that database in all your business management activities.

An Example:

I’m a huge fan of communicating with my database of clients via e-mail. If you use different software applications for different activities, then when you book an appointment, you must load that contact into each database – perhaps in the scheduling database and then your e-mail marketing database. You end up managing multiple client contact lists.

It’s far more effective and efficient that when you book a client into your schedule, that client is automatically logged into a central database with all their information, from which you can then launch e-mail messages, text messages, and even then generate business reports informing you about how a particular client is contributing to your business.

The key is moving toward a one-step process. That step being once you have a new client scheduling, that client is now part of your entire photography business software platform from which you can completely manage that client.

The same goes for centralizing your independent contractor / employee details into the same system. You can then generate payroll reports showing your payouts to each photographer on your payroll by client.

Take Your Photography Business Software to the Next Level

Do you offer pricing packages? Probably. Is it a hassle managing all those packages? A centralized, all-in-one business management software specifically for photographers lets you create pricing packages that integrates with your credit card processing and your client management.

Not only this, but the right software will also make it easy for you to create gift cards, track your client’s referrals (then send out thank you messages), pricing packages, discounts, etc. – all in an effort to increase your sales and offer your clients more choice.

What About Selling Products on Your Website?

As a professional photographer, you can get great deals on photo-related products and services. You can create another profit center on your website by selling products and services. Because you know the business so well, you can offer only the best to your clients.

Moreover, because you’re a professional, you’ll have instant credibility and trust and could create a profitable e-commerce store that earns revenue with minimal effort and time.

In a nutshell, the best photography business software is web-based and offers the following centralized functions:

  • Scheduling – online, centralized, and self-bookings;
  • Credit card processing;
  • pricing packages and gift cards;
  • E-commerce and online store opportunity;
  • Payroll and staff management;
  • E-mail and text messaging capability – automated reminders and marketing channels;
  • Total client data management totally centralized;
  • Client referral tracking (this alone should be harnessed to the maximum);
  • Financial and performance reporting that uses all the centralized data for comprehensive, up-to-date information.