STEP ONE: Open your eyes to the big picture! Prepare for your next life!

Failing to start with the end in mind is one of the most common errors of business – when we ask a “start-up’ business “so how and when will you exit  the business?” we get some very strange looks!

But, a clear vision of the exit pathway helps shape the business model, gets the processes documented, guides your staff selection, and ensures the company identity is separate from your personal identity. For example, it is much harder to sell a business that is your name – Fred’s Plumbing is YOU! And you certainly don’t want to have to change the name just before the sale and lose the goodwill you’ve built up over years – devaluing the business in the process!

Starting with the end in mind makes sure you delegate, groom your second line of management, and build an “automated business” that can run without you.

Working with the “end game” in mind you will have tidy and up to date shareholders agreements, simple and up to date accounts, and a robust marketing plan for the future. You have identified the next products and services to develop,  and you will have an outline plan for how that will happen.

All your agency and distributor agreements are up to date and fully transferable!

In short – starting with the end in mind gives you the best possible capital return, and along the way improves profitability and ease of management, making YOU much happier!

STEP 2: Good managers set good boundaries!

A great number of New Zealand SME owners and managers have come off the tools and into business ownership without stopping to change hats from employee to employer!

The result is often blurred or non-existent boundaries, poor staff performance and in the worst cases personal grievance payouts.

Learning to set clear boundaries with staff is essential – be consistent, clear, and fair.

Don’t play “favourites and scapegoats” no matter how tempting it is. Don’t gripe about any staff member to other employees.  Be clear in your expectations of high performance and use a simple but robust performance appraisal system that is objective, regularly applied, and religiously followed up!

Lead by example – if your staff see you making free and easy with the company’s stock and assets, they will too!

Ensure there are consequences for poor behaviour or performance – don’t just let it ride. The other staff are watching! And taking note!

There also must be “consequences” for good performance – we’d always recommend non-cash rewards, but do make sure you give a genuine acknowledgement of good work. Suggestions could include movie passes, dinner vouchers, mystery weekends, long weekend bonus leave, whatever works in your business and industry.

Good fences make good neighbours, and good boundaries make for happy, productive workplaces! Don’t trespass over those boundaries and don’t let your staff trespass either, and you’ll be a lot happier!