Managing a business, as you know, is both an art and a science. You can learn quite a bit from materials available in the market. However, you can get the feel of the business only when you apply those lessons and suggestions, interact with people experienced professionals and then go back again to your lessons. Now you are armed with your own valuable experience. But the question is – what is so special about today’s Business Environment? Is today’s business environment something different than what it was earlier? The answer would be a firm ‘yes’.
Earlier the world was divided into isolated zones. If you were given the task of leading a small business, you were expected to keep your views confined to your particular zone only. But now, the world is one entity, despite the political divides. Communication technology has advanced so much that two persons in two different hemispheres can get in touch any moment and instantly. You can travel from one part of the world to the other at very high speed.
With technological advancement business avenues have gone up rapidly. Let us take a simple example. Look around you and see the profusion of electronic gadgets in the market. But against all these rosy images, pressure on today’s business leaders is on the rise since competition is getting stiff by the day. So unless one manages his business with all seriousness and with full utilization of his skills, it is quite possible that instead of rising up the business ladder, he may fall head down. Therefore he has to learn the intricacies of different aspects of managing today’s business environment.
While you manage your business you have to constantly go through many formalities that have to co-relate with your basic business activities. You have to register with many associations, maintain a list of different authorities so that you can seek advice and help, whenever the need arises. Be conversant with the basics of tax matters and relevant rules and regulations.
Acquiring or organizing funds is the most important task. But it may not be as difficult as others that lie ahead. You can take loans from banks and even from your well-wishers. Lease financing and factoring are other sources. You can very well go public. You will succeed this way or the other if there is an able leader at the helm of affairs in this venture. This is because a true leader can transform a business beginning from scratch into a gold mine. You too must have seen or heard that a small business often makes spectacular progress by the sole dedication and sincerity of its leader. Can you not be a leader among leaders? Of course, you can.
The leader has to love the tasks before him. Sincerity will automatically flow from that. He will give additional hours for the organization on his own. He should have a sixth sense for business opportunities so that he can harness richer pastures. But the most important qualification would be to understand his employees with whom he should be friendly while maintaining his professional distance. He should be able to judge each of his employee’s strength and weakness and then allocate jobs accordingly. He should fairly decide rewards and punishments. Inter-personal relationship skills are therefore very important for a true leader. The leader should have the mind and attitude to take his own decisions. In a very large organization, too many persons may adhere to the throne of leadership and that may suffocate the leader with real merits.
A true leader will proceed with a business plan. This business plan should be available in writing in an easily readable, easily understood form that also grabs attention for its presentation. This is his true selling point – on this depends the trust in the organization.
The leader will have to pay attention to so many things all the time. He has to think of marketing strategies, sales boosting, personnel matters, legal issues, accounts modalities, uninterrupted fund flow, procurement and storing, timely transfer of materials, and even day-to-day office administration. He has to curtail unnecessary expenditure. And above all he has to find out the shortest ways to boost profits.
As a good marketing strategist he has to find out how to create an indelible impression in his niche market. Of course, advertising is the solution. He has to judge which media he can depend upon, considering the amount that has been earmarked for the purpose and expected impact from the move. But even if there is fund constraint for advertising in print or electronic media he should not be disheartened. There are other ways too, like issuing coupons, arranging competitions, etc. Offering gifts too can be a good marketing strategy.
So far as sales promotion is concerned, it is well within the knowledge of an able leader that the old technique of telling the customers about the quality of the goods again and again is passé. But if you can understand the problems faced by the customers and try to solve those with the help of your organization, you can very well attract them by this customer-focused sales promotion method.
The leader should even think how to make packaging of his products more attractive. For the customers believe in first impressions.
In the past, there was no scope for sales promotion through web-sites and emails or sending SMS messages through cell phones. But in the modern age why should you not think of utilizing those facilities? You can start by designing a useful and attractive web-site that will enhance the fame of your organization. However, a good leader knows that caution in the matter is to be exerted while sending SMS messages or emails etc. so that the customers do not take it as an infringement on their privacy. Otherwise such misadventures may bring in adverse effects on your business.
Your strategy should be to hold out the truth about your products or services and not exaggerate them. Sometimes money-sucking leaders lure customers by trying to convince them with flowery words. But if the customer is dissatisfied he will definitely defame your products or services. And bad news travels fast. An able leader, on the other hand, tries to pay attention to the complaints received from customers. If those are not genuine, he instructs his employees to explain courteously before the agitated customer. But if such complaints are genuine, he takes every effort to redress the grievance. A good leader cares for good public relation skills of his employees. He does not spare any negligence in after-sales service if that service is applicable to his organization.
To guess correctly the strategy of a competitor and chalk out one’s own strategy accordingly depends on leadership ability. However, the leader should not antagonize his competitors and should be a fair sportsman when he meets the latter.
The leader has to keep track of research going on around the world that concerns his particular business. If possible, he may think of making provision for some research activities within his business zone too. The leader should encourage his capable employees to participate in seminars and workshops that have relevance to the activities of his business area. The articles the latter may contribute for such events will help spread the name of his organization.
He who sells best sells most. A business leader needs to fix a price so that he is way ahead of his competitors.
Among the assets of a business are its machinery and equipment, house etc., workshop, warehouse, vehicles etc. But a sincere and skilled workforce is the most priceless asset for a business enterprise. A business becomes a money-rolling machine without the sincere involvement of the employees. Therefore, if anyone is unwilling to give importance to personnel management he can do that at his own peril or by ruining his business prosperity.
Start from the recruitment stage. Proper selection of personnel can give you a healthy business. You can select them through written tests followed by practical tests and interviews. Sometimes leaders bully candidates to test their skill levels. Such leaders are anything but successful. For your job is to find out the right candidate and not exhibit your strengths. The candidate believes he is facing an experienced professional and it would be thoroughly unprofessional to outgrow him at the interview. But if the interviewer loses his own patience and amiable nature, it spoils the very purpose of the recruitment process.
Once the selection process is over, it is the job of the leader to train them. At every stage the leader should monitor their performance and that will be of great help to assess further the new recruits.
An able leader sees to it that his team members talk to him without hesitation, discuss their problems and volunteer suggestions. A good leader motivates the employees under him. To motivate further, rewards should be declared at intervals. Even if the rewards are nominal, they play an important role. The staff concerned will realize that his performance has been monitored and assessed correctly. That will inspire him to move forward with added zeal.
The staff should be encouraged to join courses that will be helpful for the business. There should be incentives for that. In-house training courses too should be organized.
Sometimes people think that just by raising salary, employees can be motivated. That is a wrong concept. Just sudden jumps in salaries without caring to assess the individual merits do not promise improvement in staff performance. Good pay for good work should be the aim of the business.
How should aggressive, careless and trouble-makers be treated? An able leader does know that firmness in those cases will generally help those persons to rectify themselves. If simple cautions do not work, warnings should be issued. But before any punitive action is taken, it should be ensured that the person concerned had been given ample scope to come back on the right track.
Sometimes firing a staff may become unavoidable. But steady progress eliminates such possibilities. Even if there is any need for firing a staff, the leader should be careful to minimize that as far as practicable. The existing staff will also appreciate his efforts in the matter.
To his staff a good leader should be a good friend and a strict taskmaster whose heart is full with affection for every individual.
Thus, in today’s changed world the leader has to be more conscious about new ideas and inventions. With imagination, sincerity and diligence he has to move ahead with his dreams. But his health is an important factor because his health and the health of the business are tuned together. He should maintain discipline in his life if he is to maintain discipline in his business.
It is quite natural for the staff in general to follow their leader if they are convinced that the latter is an ideal one.
A business becomes very prospective when everyone, be he in sales or accounts or engineering or public relations, feels that he is very much a part of that family. If the business does prosper everyone is delighted and if it fails, everyone is grieved. If a business is successful, sheer team spirit will roll it forward.
Both the past and present have produced great leaders and amazing workforce. That is a salute to the one person who had and has the ability to manage business and man force.