Let’s be honest — the last two years have been no picnic for Florida business owners, their employees or patrons. Beginning in March 2020, COVID-19 put a severe damper on business-as-usual here in ways we never anticipated. Yet we managed, collectively, to weather every inconvenience and not just survive, but thrive. No thanks to a deadly and worldwide pandemic, Florida’s small business sector remains resilient. As a business owner with a stake in the success of that sector, you must be vigilant — ready and willing to tackle whatever tasks need your attention in order to ensure that your business continues to grow and prosper.
Here is a list of must-do tasks to help you get started
1. Nurture your people.
Hiring the right employees can be both tough and time-consuming. So, when you find good people, hang on to them by:
- Establishing clear goals. Employees can’t please you if they don’t know what you want. Strive to provide clear instructions; be readily available to answer questions and offer guidance.
- Coaching not managing. Empower your employees by letting them take responsibility for the tasks you’ve assigned to them; in return, be ready to deliver helpful criticism and positive re-enforcement.
- Encouraging their ideas. Listen to your employees; allow them to stretch and build up their confidence by taking on novel tasks and new responsibilities; be flexible about sick days and family commitments.
- Rewarding them in meaningful ways. Extra money is nice, but you might also consider something more personal: a handwritten note; a shout-out in front of other team members for a job well done; gift cards for a restaurant, spa, theatre or sporting event.
- Letting go of bad employees. Not everyone is necessarily a good fit for your business; don’t hesitate to get rid of bad employees before they chase the good ones away.
2. Change the dynamics of hiring altogether
Prior to the pandemic, employers pretty much had the upper hand with regard to hiring. The number of job applicants typically exceeded jobs available by considerable amounts, which left them with little room to bargain for better salaries, hours and/or working conditions. COVID-19, however, has changed this game. Thanks to what is being called “The Great Resignation,” job applicants are no longer as interested in big salaries as they are in feeling valued and safe. Bottom line: There are many more jobs available than applicants who want to fill them. Make that work for you.
3. Delegate responsibility
When you first start out in business and you’re trying to keep expenses down, it’s okay to do most things yourself. At some point, however, you will need to let go. Trust that you have hired good people who are capable of handling the responsibilities you have turned over to them. Don’t hover, but do remain vigilant, especially with regard to finance and taxes. Nobody likes to be faced with a shortfall when it comes to financial matters.
4. Pay strict attention to cash flow daily
To succeed in business, you must make cash flow your No. 1 priority. A positive cash flow is a sign that your liquid assets — cash or anything readily convertible to cash — are rising and your business is growing.
If you do not have enough cash in your checking account to pay monthly bills, act now:
- Establish a line of credit with your bank to help you weather seasonal ups and downs and the occasional crisis. You’ll pay no interest charges until you draw on it.
- Age your accounts receivable. Group them as current, 30-60 days and over 60 days; don’t let unpaid accounts linger. Contact every customer past due by 30 days; consider using a collection agency for those past 60.
- Negotiate longer payment terms with suppliers. This can come in handy when ruined stock needs replacing unexpectedly.
- Keep track of when your expenses come due — monthly, quarterly, annually. Create a written payment schedule and plan accordingly, so you won’t be caught short-funded.