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Breaking News: You’re No Longer a Small Shop

(May 2014) posted on Wed May 07, 2014

What you might experience as you’re making the transition to a big business, and how to identify some ideas that will help along the way.

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By Marty McGhie

As small businesses grow larger, a kind of internal struggle occurs. They find themselves battling to manage the day-to-day challenges that, in the past, may have been relatively easy to handle.

In looking back at my own company, for example, I recall a time about 15 years ago when a few of us were trying to do it all – from sales and production to accounting, equipment, and more. We quickly realized, however, that we were getting burned out and our business was experiencing issues we had never seen before.

At that point, we realized we were no longer a small business; we could no longer effectively manage everything ourselves. So we began to methodically promote/hire additional people with specific skills to help manage our business. As a result, today we have a great team of managers who are continually being trained and mentored as to how we like our business to be run. Sure they make some mistakes, but not near the amount of mistakes that we would be making if we were still trying to do everything ourselves.

Is your company at a point at which you need to change from a small-shop mentality to a big-business approach? If so, let’s examine some of the indicators that you might experience as you’re making this transition, and identify some ideas to help along the way.

Has your company changed on you?
First, let’s define what “small shop” or “small business” means for our purposes. It doesn’t really fit the government’s definition of a small business. Rather, within our context, a small business is a company where one or two managers/owners manage the whole company

These folks are extensively involved in every aspect of the shop – they’re making sales; they’re on the production floor and shepherding jobs throughout the shop workflow; they’re hiring, training, and firing; they’re doing the billing and the books; they’re maintaining the plant and equipment, etc. They have extensive knowledge of just about every job produced. Virtually all decisions are made by that same manager or owner. As a small business gets a little bigger, then perhaps the overall management is shared by one or two additional persons. But realistically, in a small shop, everyone knows everything about what is going on.