Management Mistakes to Avoid with Your First Small Business

While there’s no denying that opening one’s first small business represents quite a feat, being a knowledgeable entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily equate to being an effective manager. So, if your management experience is lacking – or nonexistent – you may run into difficulties when managing your first small business.

Small business management

Although every fledgling business owner is going to face the occasional stumbling block, there are a number of easy ways to keep problems to a minimum. When working to effectively manage your first small business, take care to avoid the following blunders.

Showing Favoritism

Showing favoritism to certain team members is likely to breed resentment from employees who don’t enjoy the same special treatment. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t even realize they’re engaging in such behavior and therefore fail to recognize the need to correct it. With this in mind, make an effort to treat all staff members equally with regard to expectations, friendliness and leniency. For example, if two employees make the same mistake and only one of them receives disciplinary action, your staff is likely to believe that favoritism is at play.

You’ll need to be particularly careful when hiring friends, family members or other individuals with whom you have preexisting relationships. If your other team members become aware of this connection, they’re liable to keep their eyes peeled for any possible signs of favoritism. So, before committing to hire people you know on a personal level, make sure they understand that they can’t expect any preferential treatment in the workplace.

In addition to drawing the ire of employees, favoritism can effectively diminish morale. After all, if the people you’ve deemed your favorites are going to receive the lion’s share of praise, accolades and special privileges, what incentive do the rest of your team members have to do anything beyond the bare minimum?

Inflexibility with Regard to Remote Work

It’s important for all small business owners to understand that we exist in an ever-changing landscape and that the traditional workplace is slowly becoming obsolete – at least for certain types of work. Although many businesses – even ones that once disparaged remote work – came to embrace working from home in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, many members of the workforce are now being called back to the office. And unsurprisingly, a fair number of them would sooner quit than return to the traditional work experience.

As a large portion of us came to discover, reporting to formal workplaces every day is unnecessary for many modern jobs. Furthermore, being able to work from home saves us the trouble of enduring cumbersome commutes, heightens our productivity and provides us with a greater degree of control over our schedules.

That being the case, any small business owner looking to retain and recruit top talent should offer flexibility with regard to remote work. If your employees are adept at managing their workloads and meeting deadlines, it shouldn’t really matter where they work, and stubbornly insisting that they report to the office every day is unlikely to do you any favors with them or help your worker retention numbers.

Failing to Show Your Staff Proper Appreciation

To say that many business owners fail to show their staff proper appreciation would be an understatement. While you may think that paying someone’s salary constitutes an appropriate level of appreciation, many members of the workforce would beg to differ. As such, you should make a point of providing your team members with positive encouragement and recognition at every available opportunity.

In addition to letting people know they’re doing a good job, you should regularly provide pay raises and promotions to employees who consistently put forth exemplary efforts. Not only will this show them that their work hasn’t gone unrecognized, it will help strengthen your worker retention and ensure that your entire team has incentive to work hard. For more helpful pointers on employee appreciation and various other aspects of business management, have a listen to the official Susan Sly podcast.

Although some small business owners are natural managers, this is not the case for everyone. So, if you’ve never managed a staff, feeling confused and overwhelmed is entirely understandable. Luckily, learning the ins and outs of effective management is much easier than you may think.

Being mindful of the behaviors discussed above and taking active steps to avoid them can go a long way towards bolstering your management skills and ensuring the success of your business.


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