As a small business owner, you have a lot of weight on your shoulders.
How you manage your small business is a key determinator of your success. Whether that’s managing your employees, your company’s finances, your business’s roadmap, or simply your daily tasks—your small business management decisions matter.
To get a glimpse into how other entrepreneurs approach small business management, we asked 30 of your fellow small business owners:
“What’s your best small business management tip?”
Here’s what they had to say.
“For companies below a certain size, employees can and should be made to feel directly connected to the success and growth of the business. Even if they’re not equity partners, helping to build a successful business—and being recognized as an integral component—is a point of pride, a valuable résumé item for the future, and does wonders for morale and motivation.”
— Nate Martin, CEO of Puzzle Break
“It’s important to constantly teach your employees to make them successful at their job and keep them motivated. I break the things I try to teach my employees into two groups. One is the strategy and direction of the business, the other is the set of skills that they need to be successful. I believe that regular communication and training is really important, because both of these topics are moving targets.”
— Steve Benson, Founder and CEO of Badger Maps
“When you are looking to grow from a solo-preneur to a business owner who leads, not manages his team, my number one small business management tip is to build systems.
By having systems, you can bring someone in who knows nothing about how your business runs, and they can learn a systemized way to do things the way that you want them to be done. Often this does not occur with the first time you hire an employee. It’s is a bit more of a shotgun approach. However, once you can build these systems, you can duplicate your staff and build a business that can scale based on the systems that you have built.”
— Stephen Twomey, Founder of MasterMindSEO
“The best small business management tip I have to give entrepreneurs is to let go. More specifically, let go of control over things you’re not good at. For me, I hate accounting. However, for the first year in business, I viewed getting a bookkeeper as a waste of money, because I could do all of the work myself. Well, I realized really quickly that I really don’t enjoy bookkeeping and my time could be better spent on building the business over playing its accountant. Do what you’re the best at, and lean on others to help you with things you don’t like to do.”
— Jordan Scheltgen, Managing Partner at Cave Social
“My best small business management tip is to let go of anything that isn’t helping your business be a happier, healthier, and more productive place to be. Whether that’s an employee not pulling their weight while others compensate, a client who is draining more than their fair share of company resources, or files of old papers no one needs anymore, let it go. Removing the unwanted emotional, physical, and mental clutter in your office and in your head space will lead you to become a better and more confident decision-maker in life and business.”
— Alison Kero, CEO of ACK Organizing
“My best small business management tip to other entrepreneurs is that it’s easy to get caught up working in the business, so don’t forget to work on the business. If you’re not mindful, you can spend all your time being strictly reactive and putting out the fires that come up every day.
Immediate-term problems have to be addressed, but make sure you create opportunities to be proactive as well. Network with other entrepreneurs and business leaders, read up on trends, attend professional development events, and hold workshops with your team to identify and start initiatives that will take your business to the next level. Doing these things will help you get ahead of the fires in the long term and keep you energized in the meantime.”
— Jacob Dayan, Partner and Co-founder of Community Tax
“My small business management tip is this: Hire for attitude and train for skill.
Let’s face it, an employee with a bad attitude is not going to benefit your business at all—regardless of how ‘skilled’ they are. You rarely can improve the attitude of an employee. However, an employee with the right attitude? You can give them the training they need to be successful in your small business. It really is a win-win for both the employee and business owner.”
— Jason Hessom, Owner of SafetyVideos
“Levering data is one of the fundamental ways to improve business and employee management. From employee productivity to sales and logistical information, working to understand how your company collects and analyzes data is an important project for every entrepreneur.
After collecting this data, it is important to act on the analysis and work to make your processes more efficient. A lot of companies are great at collecting data but do not leverage this data to make operational changes. Finally, whenever collecting data on employee performance, it is important to keep the process transparent and ensure that everyone understands that the purpose is for business development and not to micromanage performance.”
— Evan Harris, Co-founder of SD Equity Partners
“My small business management advice to other entrepreneurs would be to document all of their business processes. In a nutshell, this means to create a book of standard operating procedures. Then if they want to go on a vacation or were no longer here, their staff could follow the procedures in the book. This is also very beneficial when they hire and need to train new staff. Documenting my procedures has made me examine everything necessary to run my business in detail and make processes more efficient.”
— Chris Abrams, Owner of MJ Life Insurance
“The best small business management tip I can give other entrepreneurs is to establish a culture of transparency within your organization. Constructive, timely, and candid feedback can boost employee and team performance. Entrepreneurs often hold feedback until formal reviews because they are caught in the day-to-day management of the business. Making transparency part of the day-to-day management of your employees will help them improve their work faster while accelerating results for the company.”
— Christina May, Illumine8
“My best tip for small business management is to create and utilize a budget.
This will help in two areas. First, you will know how much you need to sell in order to cover your overheads. Second, it will act as a guide to help your business grow! Many businesses see a budget as restrictive, but it is the complete opposite. It gives you enough understanding of your finances that you know where you can improve and where you want to be in, say, 12 months’ time.”
— Sam Boothroyd, Founder of Rymer Associates
“As a small business owner, I know exactly how overwhelming it can be to juggle multiple tasks. The best advice once I got from my mentor was this: If you can’t complete all the tasks, just focus only on those that will make the biggest difference to your product or service. At the end of the day, you will see how few of these tasks are but what a huge impact they can make to the success of your business.”
— Santare Slavinsk, Co-founder and Creative Director of DIZAIND
“My number one tip for small business management is to be more stringent on costs. A penny saved is more often more than a penny earned, so it is important to save on costs everywhere you can. Take advantage of tax breaks, and if possible, outsource non-core business aspects.”
— AJ Saleem, Director of Suprex Tutors Houston
“The key to good small business management is evaluating your business progress at least every three months. A quarter is the right amount in a time increment to determine what operations are working and what isn’t, in terms of new business relationships or agendas. Some business owners might be too busy attending to details or a specific project and will neglect assessing their business models.
The worst thing you can do for your business is to continue implementing processes that aren’t benefitting you. By enforcing a quarterly evaluation, a business owner or entrepreneur can avoid bad business moves and give themselves the chance to grow in the right direction.”
— David Mitroff, Founder of Piedmont Avenue Consulting
“Stay on top of your books and budget so you always have a good idea of where your business is at financially, especially with expenses and revenues. Hire a good business accountant, and ask your accountant to hold you accountable for staying engaged with your business finances. A great way to do this is to have your accountant’s office call you for quarterly review meetings in their office. It will cost a little extra for their time but it’s worth the money for the benefit of knowing exactly where your business is at financially. Regular reviews are essential for long-term growth planning, so it’s a good habit to get into early on. Of course, it’s never too late to undertake the habit of regularly reviewing your finances.”
— Ruth van Vierzen, Founder and CEO of REV Squared
“My best small business management tip would be to automate as much as you can to free up your time. As small business owners, we have so many things to do that we often spend all our time in the day-to-day running of the business instead of actually growing it.
Tasks like staff rotas, invoicing, chasing invoices, mileage expenses, payroll, and tax used to take up hours and hours of my time. Now I have a system in place, so all I have to do is fill in the staff rotas and all the invoicing, payroll, mileage expenses are done automatically. This literally saves me 20-plus hours a month that I can use to actively grow my business. This has had a huge impact on my bottom line.”
— Ben Doyle, Pet Checkers
“The best small business management tip I can give is stay organized—to a fault. Your mode of organization doesn’t matter as much as actually being organized. Start right away and keep it up. Make the spreadsheets, file the papers, use that online management system, or hire it out. Whatever you do—organize everything. You’ll be so glad you did.”
“My number one small business management tip for small business owners and entrepreneurs is centered around goal setting. It’s critical to define where you want to go and develop goals on how to get there. With goal-setting comes transparency and team alignment on these goals. Ensuring everyone from the top of the organization to the interns understand the direction and goals of the company has been critical to our success as a business.
Earlier on when an organization is growing, it’s key to have everyone on the same page, and in order to do that, there must be transparency and access to the information. When the entire team is aligned and smart goals are set, you will be set up for success.”
— Robert Rodrigues, Founder and COO of Power Digital Marketing
“Don’t underestimate what your employees already know about your business and what they can contribute. Hiding performance measures or being opaque about your financials is a disservice to their intelligence and a huge missed opportunity for you as a business owner. Sharing information with employees—at least top line financials and other KPIs—can help you tap into a rich font of insight, engagement, and employee loyalty.”
— Rosemary Plorin, President and CEO of Lovell Communications
“My small business management tip to other entrepreneurs is to leverage technology and small business management tools that minimize and automate work-flow processes as much as possible—like HubSpot, BotKeeper (automated bookkeeping), and Zapier. Your time and effort should be spent moving the company forward, not doing mundane, company operations.”
— Courtney Wilson, Founder of DropZone for Veterans
“I’ve learned that the best way to manage your employees is to offer flexibility. Our industry requires our people to go all over the country to get the job done, meaning that they often have to spend time away from their family. Retaining a loyal team is important to me, so if a certain employee has been traveling excessive amounts in a short space of time, I offer them the option to accept the more convenient jobs for a while.
I also think it’s important to get the input from my employees on how they think the best way to get the job done is, so I am always keen to heart their views on things that they think could be streamlined or improved. This way, it definitely feels more like a team environment than a dictatorship.”
— Grant van der Harst, Managing Director of Anglo Liners
“Measure everything. Income and expenses are key in order to find out what you’re spending, how often, and if it’s working, but also important is tracking your time, your marketing return on investment, staff efficiencies, how long you’re spending with your clients/customers, how long it takes you to build your product, etc. You’ll be surprised by what you find!”
— Mara L. Shorr, The Best Medical Business Solutions
“No matter what stage you are at in your business, focusing on the things that will get you to the next 10x level are the only things that matter. Some tactics will help get you beyond that point, but at each 10x stage you reach, only then should you reevaluate your process and where your effort is being spent. By keeping this intense focus, you’ll be better able to grow and learn what works and what doesn’t for your business, and where others in your org should spend their time.”
— John Turner, CEO and Founder of QuietKit
“The best way to manage your day to day activities and employees as a small business owner or entrepreneur is to work from a daily, handwritten to-do list. This is much more effective than, say, a mobile app. Craft yours with three categories in mind—one for items you have to get to that day, and a second for things that need your attention but can wait. Make the last category for minor tasks and responsibilities that you can knock out when you have the extra time.”
— Andrew Schrage, CEO of MoneyCrashers
“My best small business management tip is this: Over-manage the details—both internally and externally. In today’s digital world, sometimes people forget the value of a human touch both with their team and their clients.”
— Kelly Ehlers, Founder and President of Ideas That Evoke
“My small business management tip for other entrepreneurs is to not look at sales numbers every day. There are many ways to judge progress—sales is just the shiniest. Being discouraged over a bad sales period in your company may prevent other areas of potential growth from being pursued. Let the numbers be what they are, and keep on building your whole company.”
— Scott Toal, Short Run Pro
“We’ve found that one of the best ways to manage and keep employees motivated is through benefits: outside training, community events, happy hours, and gym membership reimbursement.
These particular perks are popular because you’re providing more than just the usual health benefits. You’re going above and beyond to show employees that you don’t just care about the work they do—you value them as an individual and care about their well-being. Your employees want to feel as though they are making a significant impact at work, and with benefits like these being offered, they feel important and like they’re part of the family.”
— Jordan Wan, CEO and Founder of CloserIQ
“My top small business management tip for my business and employees is goal setting. On a micro and macro level, I make sure all employees, myself included, and the company itself has scalable goals we can all work towards. On the micro level, I set weekly goals with all employees at the beginning of the week. We share a quantitative goal and a specific focus for our work week. At the end of the week, we have an all-company call to discuss big wins and big failures. What makes this strategy so effective is that we encourage failure. It’s an opportunity to grow, learn, and develop as a person and professional. At the same time, we love acknowledging big wins.”
— Chris Sentz, Co-founder of F13 Works
“I think one very important small business management tip is to make sure you have a daily agenda set up and completely broken down. You want to make sure you are following it and not letting the flexibility of an entrepreneur get in your way. By doing this, you are able to get everything done that is needed and not just do it as you feel like.”
— Chris Pontine, Creating a Website Today
“We find that most get stuck in one specific area: delegation—knowing when to let go and let others help run a project, an idea, or a department. Many small business owners are so attached to their ‘baby’ that they struggle to see when to let their employees with greater or relevant knowledge take over.
The best small business management tip we give to those leaders is to take a step back and imagine what would happen to their business if they were not around any longer.
We ask them to imagine how would they ensure the continuity of their work. Who would they empower to take over? It is normally a good sobering thought that helps them realize that their business will not succeed if they do not learn to delegate and empower. Those who are successful at it learn that their business will thrive when others are allowed to build on the leader’s vision.”
— Joe Carella, Assistant Dean, Eller College of Management
“Good managers give their employees two things: goals and ownership. I set clear goals for my team’s work and hold them accountable for completing tasks. That said, I don’t micromanage my employees. I let them have plenty of space to use their talents and learn new skills.
I also make people feel they have a stake in the company as a whole, not just in their own work. For example, I recently bought a new office building. I kept my employees informed throughout the process—from property searching, to negotiating, to signing the papers. Since I kept them in the loop, they’re excited to move to our new location. They’ve even made some suggestions for building modifications that I’ll have our contractors incorporate during the remodeling process.”
— Vladimir Gendelman, Founder and CEO of Company Folders
There you have it—31 small business management tips from entrepreneurs who are in the same place you are.
Use this small business management advice to keep your employees happy, save money for your business, or prioritize your time—whatever makes your business better.