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Step 8. Create a Management Strategy

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At this point you are ready to start putting your business in motion, and it is time to act on your management plan. Initially, most startup decoration businesses are a one man team, but if you are fortunate enough to have employees, then you need to have a management strategy in place. A management strategy involves creating and executing short and long term goals and tasks. Everyone wants to grow their business and become an empire, but you must realize that there are many steps along the way. It is crucial to create short and long term attainable goals and keep momentum moving forward. This can be accomplished by having a good plan in place.


A management strategy starts with education regarding the industry, market, decoration processes, and product line. The more educated you are, the fewer mistakes you will make, and the quicker you will reach your goals. It is good to learn through mistakes, but you want those mistakes to happen before you have customers counting on timely delivery of their decorated products.  Once you have educated yourself, you have to educate your workforce.  


Training new employees is a critical process, and no shortcuts should be taken.  When training employees, your experience and guidance will determine how well these employees will be able to execute their tasks.  So, plan your employee training thoughtfully and communicate your knowledge clearly.  Take the time to train employees to perform multiple tasks as having utility players who can contribute in different ways is beneficial for a small business.  


It is a necessity to train employees to handle operations and customer relationship management.  At first you might want to handle your accounting and finance yourself, but in time it is recommended that you hire and train someone capable of these tasks.  If the business grows, and you have the ability to, then hire an artist. Having an artist on-staff can save you a lot of time and money in aiding customers with their design needs.  Until you reach that point, outsourcing artwork will likely be the best option for you. IT work and accounting can be easily outsourced as well if you do not have enough work to justify employing someone for those positions.


For a new business, it is also very important for you to have a second-in-command.  This person should be someone you can trust to handle some management responsibilities.  This person should be a good communicator who is also capable of filling gaps and taking charge to solve problems as they arise.  Having a good employee who you can count on to take some pressure off of yourself will allow you to focus more on the big picture, and they will also help the business run more smoothly.


Simply training employees, however, is not enough.  You cannot just train an employee and set them free to work as they see fit.  You must develop a work schedule for them, detailing when they will work, what work must be performed, and even what to do with extra time should they complete work ahead of schedule.  At the beginning, hands-on management is imperative to ensure that things are done right, and over time you can begin to give your employees more freedom. As a manager, you must ensure that employees have a safe and welcoming work environment, and be able to handle any disputes or conflicts that may arise.  Managing employees may seem like a large time sink, but developing self-sufficient and capable employees is well worth the time and effort required. 


From here, you can begin to focus on creating a long-term plan. A long term plan can range from one to ten years. Maybe your plan starts with heat pressing screen print transfers year one, insourcing embroidery year three, having a larger space by year five, and so on.  Long-term goals are important because they prevent you from focusing solely on the present by keeping you mindful of the future of your business. Once you have your long term goals mapped out you can begin to create a short-term plan to help you reach them. The plan should include the various steps that are required to achieve a goal.  


Suppose that you want to move into a larger space by the fifth year of your business.  To move into a bigger space, you will need a large increase in the volume of production.  The most obvious first step towards moving into a bigger ship is to acquire more clients. Once you have more clients, you will likely need more equipment to keep up with demand.  Obtaining financing might be necessary to purchase that equipment. Hiring more employees to operate the extra equipment may be necessary. If you are looking at a significantly larger space, then you may want to offer a new decoration process, which means that you will need to research and perfect that process.  Taking these incremental steps towards larger goals over time will allow you to be completely prepared when the time comes to make the move.


When starting a new product decoration business, short term goals are also very important.  As with any new business, there are many pitfalls that can make it seem like no progress is being made.  So having explicit goals to strive towards in the interim is extremely beneficial. Short-term goals can include attracting a certain number of clients, breaking even for a quarter, a specific volume of products to have decorated, and more.  Setting short-term goals can also help you to avoid becoming overwhelmed by the amount of work involved in starting a business as you begin to see the fruits of your labor. As an entrepreneur, there will always be more work to be done so being able to achieve goals will help you to maintain a positive attitude and remain engaged in your work.


Planning is the key to growth for a small business.  For process-oriented businesses like product decoration shops, planning is essential for the development of processes and the employees that perform them.  By planning for both the short-term and the long-term you will be prepared for whatever challenges come your way. Management is one of the most time-consuming activities that an entrepreneur must handle, but without quality management a business cannot succeed. 

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