Fergus has released advice on ways to become a better trade business manager in 2023. The company suggests that with just a few simple tweaks to a business, owners can boost confidence and revenue, even in these difficult times.
The guidance follows the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) calling on the government to end ‘the political turmoil in Westminster’, as the self-employed and trade businesses continue to be battered by rising costs, falling revenues and the shrinking availability of affordable finance. It is a cycle that can get on top of busy tradespeople already trying to manage a variety of challenges.
“Building a business that works for you, not the other way around, should be a key priority for all business owners right now,” says James Chillman, UK Country Manager for Fergus.
“The high personal risk of owning a trade business means business owner burnout is becoming more common. With the business environment seemingly changing daily the pressure can mount and we want trade business owners to tackle the hard stuff and stay on top of things.”
These are difficult times for small business owners, but as Fergus points out, a few small changes can be all that’s needed to achieve great results:
Put structure, systems and policies in place
A big reason trade business owners burn out is that it’s easy to fall prey to the false perception that you need to be everywhere at once: quotes and invoices can’t be sent out without you checking over them, the job can’t be finished without you looking over it and so on. The way to combat this is by setting up policies, systems and processes that are black and white and leave little room for interpretation, for example: your materials management policy, your customer service promise, your company values and so on. If anything goes wrong in a business it’s usually because there’s an issue with the systems or the structure or procedure that business is built on, and that’s what needs your attention.
Invest in your team
Hire the right people with the right attitude. If you’re hiring people who are not up to scratch because they were a bit cheaper and the rest of your team have to pick up the slack, it hurts the productivity of the team as a whole and they will probably resent you for it. Onboard staff properly and make sure they understand your systems, processes and values. Training is a great way to show that you care about employees’ mental and professional wellbeing on a personal level.
Have confidence in yourself and try new things
If you doubt yourself sometimes and you’re not often confident about running or managing your business, here’s a tip: practically no one is. Most tradespeople don’t have a business background and even those who do are never really 100% sure things are going to work out. But if your default is to doubt things will work, you can be sure they won’t pan out.
Accept responsibility for everything that happens in your business
This is an easy one. If someone makes a grave error in your business, you have to be ok with that. Delegation is an essential part of growing your business and other people are rarely going to do things exactly the way you want it. But if someone slips up again and again and again, the consequences are on you. It sounds tough but if the process is broken, fix it and if the person can’t be helped, let them go.
Know your numbers, know your business
The reality is, nothing is more empowering for a business leader than getting a firm grip on your finances because it gives you the ability to make strategic decisions for your company. If you’re a little bit in the dark on where your numbers are, download a free cashflow forecast template from the internet and fill it out.