Mapping Out Your Firm’s Success

Planning long term while working short term requires an effective strategic plan

new accounts and service existing ones and to render courtesies that go beyond phone calls and visits.

One of Richardson’s employees is a salesman who works out of his home in Lawrenceville, Georgia. Richardson hired him to address a weakness that he had discovered in his wholesale supply business. Customers complained about not seeing him anymore.

“You can do more damage to yourself by trying to do it all than to get somebody else out there who can help you and paying them,” says Richardson, 46. “And I saw myself like that at one time. As I was
growing, I was still trying to do everything, and I wasn’t doing what I should do effectively-satisfy my [customers].”

For your business as a whole, Lumpkin says getting help, whether contracting for it or hiring someone, is a time-consuming process. “You have got to continually assess how you are spending your time. There are things you do to bring in business and there are things you must do to run your business. All the things we hate,” she says with a laugh. That category includes legal matters, accounting and administrative functions.

During the company’s first four years in business, she and her husband, Kelly, were the only employees, and much of their programming work was outsourced. “We got to a point where we were contracting so much, it then made sense that we have a full-time person doing this,” she says.

Troy Nalls, 32, founder and president of Answer Austin Inc., a three-year-old, $200,000 Austin, Texas-based voice mail service, has found the answer to his time management needs in a business software product called GoldMine. The program, which is available in a five-user version from GoldMine Software for $995, allows Nalls’ office manager to schedule appointments for him and the information can be accessed from Nalls’ computer. The two can set alarms for each other, and information about customers, including past transactions and prior communications, is readily accessed by retrieving one file.

Although your plan of action may differ from those in this article, implementing a strategic plan to wisely manage your time in the quest for better profits and a healthy business is key.
“If I don’t work, I don’t eat,” says Nalls about his motivation for staying focused. “To me, failure is not the business closing; failure is having to get a job.”

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