Core Small Business Skills – Operational Management

As a business owner and entrepreneur it is important to develop a set of key management skills upon which you can build your business. Even more so when you consider research into Australian small business failures, has identified that in 90% of cases, a lack of management skills has been a key reason for small business failure. Operational Management skills have been identified as one of the core skills required for small business success, and I would go so far as to say that they could be a deal breaker. So let’s look at the operational management skills you need to run a successful small business.You need to build operational management skills in order to develop the systems and processes by which you deliver your products and services. The more efficient and effective they are the more ‘productive’ your business will be. Core operational skills include planning, management, communication as well as effective systems design.Operational and Project Planning SkillsThe ability to develop operational plans which focus on the day-to-day running of your small business and to develop and manage project plans for specific bodies of work are essential skills for business success. The best operational and project managers ensure that have identified,in as much detail as possible, what is required when and allocating appropriate resources to get the job done. They are also fanatical about identifying risks and issues upfront and managing them so that they have little or no impact on the task at hand.Monitoring and Reporting SkillsSmall business owners need to be able to assess their small business’s performance against its objectives and to develop and distribute a series of reports that indicate the level of that performance to key stakeholders on a weekly basis. Keeping an eye on your progress highlights any emerging issues and allows you to effectively manage the situation. This ensures that the reins of business are always in your hands and in your control. You need to be able to create a set of operational key performance indicators (KPI’s) that drive the behaviours and values you want your business to embody, create a set of operational performance ‘dashboards’ and develop a system that captures the information that feeds into the operational dashboard.Effective Business Communications SkillsStrong communication skills are vital. In many respects, it is the oil that keeps your systems’ gears meshing nicely. You need to be able to inspire your troops to act in concert with your strategic intent, whilst delivering the communication to the troops about what needs to be done, when, where and why in an effort to keep your operations running like a well oiled machine. Strong written, verbal and non-verbal communication can be the difference that can take your small business from good to great.Systems Design, Development and Implementation SkillsEvery entrepreneur should be aiming to build an effective small business that operates without them. After all, most entrepreneurs build their business with the hopes of working only when they want to, not because they have to! The only way this can be done is to design, develop and implement systems that replace the business owner. Systems design requires the ability to observe, analyse and design solutions to systems problems. Having the ability to design systems is vital throughout the life of the business because all successful businesses will be in a constant state of re-design in order to keep abreast of the ever-changing demands of your customers and the context within which your business operates.Developing strong Operational Management skills are essential to the day-to-day running of your business. Continuing to hone them is important as these particular skills will be required throughout the entire business life cycle, but the effort you put into developing these skills will pay handsome dividends when it comes to your day-to-day small business success.

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