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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 Updated: May 27, 2011

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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Hats off to the above post, i truly believe that if one is not disciplined towards his life, he cannot make change or bring change in his work field. Sticking to discipline is a very important criteria for most of the big business as well as small business too. Hence it is good to award 8a certificate to small business holder, which will further help them to climb the ladder of success with ease.
Great article and I must agree that it takes great discipline to run a successful business. There are many questions you need to ask yourself in order to achieve optimum productivity, one in particular is what are some of the tasks that can be delegated between yourself and employees?.... It's important to be able to Allocate time for all tasks between yourself and employees, this is essential in keeping organized and having things run in an orderly fashion. One great point that was made was to track the employer’s hours.... I never thought to do that but I think it would be really helpful to see where my time is being spent and how to improve my own daily productivity.
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Discipline is truly very important! A good business owner knows how to control himself most especially if the you're only starting a business. Though, it is also important to remember that even your business is already far successful discipline is still needed. Remember that they key to success is patience and proper discipline. Apartments for Rent in the Philippines
Tracking hours is an excellent idea. It also gives a chance to make notes about what was accomplished that day. Also, if one is working on a computer and needs to concentrate without disruption, I find the local library is a wonderful place to work. roosting boxes
While To be sure using the author and Elaine, I've found that determining how much cash to reinvest in to the clients are the actual problem.best dehumidifier
While I agree with the author and Elaine, I find that deciding how much money to reinvest into the business is the real problem. I had the luxury(?) of having a 9-5 job while starting my busines, so I could dump a lot of the money i made back into my business to help it grow (better tools, training, outsourcing etc).I guess if you have outside funding, a section of that would be earmarked for these needs and you could pay yourself from your profits. Just another reason I wish I would have found all of this a lot earlier than I did.Also, the tip on tracking what you do and how long you do it is simple but powerful. I still am bad at this; I usually do whatever is most important at that moment and find myself running around a lot or taking too long on tasks that don't have a huge impact on my overall business. With better tracking I could eliminate, outsource or deprioritize them.

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