As 99% of people who have spoken to me in the past two years know, I embrace my small RV as a post-retirement activity. With that in mind, my brother-in-law (whom I will call âBilâ from now on) gave me some great advice along the way. Bil is not, I’m happy to point out, a “grater”; he’s more of a trainer. As the saying goes, âGive someone a fish, you fed them for a day; teach them to fish and you have fed them a lifetime â. So Bil recommended that I create a well-equipped toolbox to make my adventures run smoothly. With that in mind, I’ve put together a short list of things that should be included. How can you adapt them to the proper functioning of your business?
First off, I wanted an assortment of basic tools, like hammers, pliers, wrenches, and screwdrivers. What tools do you need for your small business? What might you be missing? As a business owner, you have to wear several hats: COO, CFO, employee supervisor, marketing manager, etc. all very, very important to the success of your business, so you don’t want to overlook any of them. You may be able to outsource some of these tasks to professionals or have built up a great group of advisors, but in any case, you need to have at least a basic understanding of what these tools are used for.
The next item I made sure to include was a good tape measure. It is never a good idea to just “get your eyes open” or estimate what you need. There is also a saying for this: “Measure twice, cut once.” I might even venture to say, measure three times! This applies to your business in several ways. On the one hand, I think it indicates how important a business plan is to your business, whether you are a start-up or an existing one. A business plan doesn’t just have to be a static photo of your idea or operation. You want to constantly monitor the state of the market, economy, business trends, etc. What could your inventory look like in six months? Are you going to have to increase – or reduce – your workforce? Will any pieces of equipment need to be replaced over the next two years?
It also affects your financial planning, the other part of your business plan. Will your current sales or operations allow these expenses? Do you need to find a way to increase your income? And do you have enough cash reserves to be able to meet unforeseen business needs, short or longer term? Unfortunately, we know all too well the stress that the global pandemic and extreme weather events have placed on our business community. So remember to also integrate disaster planning into your measurement tool.
Finally, while this one makes Bil laugh, I firmly believe in the importance of including multiple bungee cords in your toolbox. Bil calls me “the baby bungee”, I just call him my bucket o ‘bungees. I have a variety of sizes and strengths that I can adapt wherever I need them (don’t buy the cheapest, you’ll regret). For your business, the elastic cord tool can be reflected in your ability to use flexibility when and where you need it. Many communities along the St.Lawrence River and Lake Ontario had to make several changes to recover from the high water levels of 2017 and 2019 that affected their business community, especially the way they served. the tourism industry. And it was demonstrated again over the past 18 months when we saw that companies that are able to pivot fairly quickly and respond to changing needs and markets for their products and services can bounce back much faster than others. .
On a final note, I’m just going to add here that universal – and essential – favorite of any well-equipped toolbox: duct tape. If you run your business with all the tools you need, you’ll be able to make sure your customers “stay” forever.
You can contact your local Small Business Development Center to speak with a business advisor confidentially and free of charge. You can reach Watertown SBDC at JCC (315) 782-9262, SUNY Canton SBDC at (315) 386-7312, or SUNY Canton SBDC at Clinton Community College at (518) 324-7232.