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Power User Spotlight: Discipline is an Ongoing Challenge for Small Business Owners

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Power User Spotlight: Discipline is an Ongoing Challenge for Small Business Owners

By JimD
Published: December 9, 2010

Discipline is based on developing good habits. Many small business owners struggle with this and do not notice a lack of discipline until their business gets track. José Rivera is the founder and president of his 8a certified company, Rivera, Sierra, & Company. He provides consulting to governments, small businesses, and non-profits.

Business.gov interviewed José , also known as riverasierra in the Community, for some insight into owning and running a small business.

What skills do small business owners need to have?

There are three areas that are important for small business owners to have:

  • Marketing and the Ability to Get Clients/Work
  • Administration
  • Financing

All three are important and it is extremely rare to find someone that is proficient in all three. That is why you eventually hire people to help you. Along with these three areas, the time allocation is equally important. When starting up, almost 75% of the time is spent on marketing and bringing in new clients. This does not leave much time for the other two. Administration usually gets the last 25%, leaving your financing going unresolved. This is why many small business owners get into trouble with not paying fees or missing returns.

You need to be disciplined enough to make sure you force yourself to work on the other areas. It will make your business more successful in the end. If you are disciplined at the start of your business, you will establish habits that allow you to manage your business better.

Has being an 8a certified business helped you?

Being an 8a has been a godsend for me. If you market your business correctly, you can practically grow overnight. Within the first 3 months after getting my certification, I was awarded a $3 million contract. Over the lifetime of the company, being an 8a has probably given me $30 million in contracts that I can directly attribute to being an 8a.

To learn more about 8a certification, check out http://www.sba.gov/aboutsba/sbaprograms/8abd/index.html

Was getting the 8a certification easy?

The 8a certification was fairly straightforward and I did;t have any problems. However, the 8a certification has created an entire industry of helping small business owners get their 8a certification. My company does help with this as well. Certain areas can be tricky, for example explaining how someone is economically disadvantaged.

It also takes a lot of corporate discipline. Corporate discipline includes things that as a small business owner, you should be doing from the beginning, but people do-t. Having annual meetings, having meeting minutes, having bylaws are all necessary for the running a concrete business. When trying to get your 8a certification, you need to have these documents in line.

What advice do you have for someone starting a business?

Take 6 months and develop your infrastructure. This includes the corporate discipline. Get in the habit of tracking all your finances. Make sure you have bylaws established and you have annual meetings and minutes. Once you have this infrastructure in place, all these tasks become habit and that is what will help you.

This can be tough to know what to do, but there are many resources out there. SBA.gov has great information and webinars for starting a business. The webinars really give a new way to get information, since reading a document will only get you so far and gets monotonous quickly. The Secretary of State website for many states has information for business development specific to their state. You can learn of tricks of the trade right on their website.

If you want to talk to a real person, the SCORE and SBDC offices are useful. SCORE has retired business people that are there to help you. That can provide a great sounding board for your ideas and will sometime offer their own. You do not have to be 8a or have any type of certification to talk with these people.

What is the biggest challenge you faced in your experience as a small business owner?

The most difficult challenge is new business development. I feel that you should spend roughly 25% of your time trying to get new business. This may seem tough, especially when you account for the cost of spending that much time. For example, if you make $100,000 as income, if you spend 25% of your time, it is costing the company $25,000. This is the main reason why many small business owners tend to cut the new business development short.

Bringing on new employees helped some because I was able to get rid of some of my administrative tasks. This freed my time of some, but as a principal of a consulting firm, my clients are counting on me to be active on their work. 25% may seem like a lot time, but if you run out of business, you will be stuck working 100% of your time on getting new clients.

I suggest to all small business owners to track their own hours. There are 2080 business hours in a year. Get in the habit of tracking how much time you spend on given tasks and areas. After 6 months or a year, look at the breakdown. Are you spending enough time of new business or too much time at administrative tasks? It can be very insightful and help you get your business on track if you feel it is heading the wrong direction.

Quick Facts

Username: riverasierra

Date Registered: March 19, 2009

Total Messages Posted: 123

Total Kudos Received: 138

As of 12/9/2010

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About the Author:



I feel like 25% of your time trying to find new business is a little bit on the low side. It should be your primary focus at first to get new customers and establish a base of loyal customers. That is the best way to grow your business and plan for the long-term in my opinion.
Everything is discipline. From that begins all, is my humble opinion, like it
A good knowledge And guidance to individuals who need to do business.: Power User Spotlight: Discipline is an Ongoing Challenge for Small Business Owners.
The most difficult challenge is new business development. th is is quite similar with my situation. the system in my business is not strong as the others so the products when reaching to custmers may be depend on other, the time and the expense is increased higher tha normal
Everything is discipline. From that begins all, is my humble opinion

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