Running Your Small Business Like a Fortune 50 Company

Today, I opened up the app store to find that my small business app Yaldi, one that I had been working on for months, was on the front page under best new apps. The feeling of success was thrilling, and the fact that a small business app was featured helped to underscore that there is a need for apps like this.

Driven in part by interest from big tech companies like Apple and AT&T, the small business app market is booming. Recently, Apple announced its business app program, an attempt to turn the iPad from a consumer product that’s declining in popularity, into a useful business tool. Previous to that, AT&T launched its Workforce Manager platform, partnering with dozens of app developers to provide plug-and-play modules that small businesses can mix and match to create their own mobile apps. According to Frost & Sullivan, nearly half the country’s businesses now use between one and 10 apps to manage various aspects of their enterprise. Needless to say, at this stage in our collective tech growth, small business apps are nearly a requirement to succeed.

So many startups fail for very avoidable reasons, and even more of them hang on for dear life, struggling to crack the formula of success. In celebration of the Yaldi app’s debut on the front page, I’d like to give you some tips to help you run your small business like a big one.

  1. Manage with data, not intuition — Did you know most highly successful CEOs and Execs were trained to ignore their gut? The best CEO’s are not experts at everything, they’re experts at some things and generally great problem solvers for the rest, which they can translate to different disciplines. They do that by gathering and reviewing data, making data driven decisions. Even if you’re gut is right, I bet its not 100% right all the time. Get some data and it will almost certainly change your approach to the next problem.
  2. Create focus — Trying to do too may things is harmful in almost every environment. Did you know that human evolution is the reason for that? I credit David Allen here from his book “Getting Things Done” where he talks about how humans have not evolved to deal with today’s multi-tasking environment. He would say it much better than I but the gist is that humans have evolved to be great at focusing on one thing: e.g. Survival. Being chased by a predator? Survive. Running out of food? Survive. So, as we try to fight that instinct and try to focus on more than one thing, we naturally do a bad job of it. It’s not your fault — we’re programmed that way. In fact, Founder/CTO of WordStream Larry Kim just posted on Medium about an MIT study that confirms that multitasking is actually bad for your brain! So, create more focus on what you do, pick the top 3 things for the day or the week and go get them done. The same goes for longer term business strategy, Don’t try to achieve 10 huge things in the next two years. Instead, pick one to three big things, and I guarantee that will lead to more success.
  3. Delegating vs Diving in — If you don’t have enough expert knowledge to be able to roll your sleeves up and dive in, you may be running the wrong business. You have to add some value to your business other than just ‘management’. Equally, diving in too much and doing tasks that others can do better may hurt your end product or service. A founder of a successful startup once gave me the following advice: “you have to learn to code if you’re going to start a tech company.” I get what he is saying, but I actually totally disagree. I’m a mechanical engineer and I used to design the structure of cars for almost 10 years. It took me at least five to be good at it, and close to 10 to be an expert. If I took up coding it would be the same length of time, so I delegated. I found someone who had good design principles and paid them to be in charge of coding. If I had taken that on, I would be months down the line with a shitty product. So, know when to pass things off and know when to get involved — there is no perfect balance but start by realizing that a balance is required and go from there.

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Matt Girvan is the co-founder and president of My Gung Ho, LLC, which creates apps that help individuals and small businesses thrive, using the same strategies that help large companies succeed. Download the to-do list/task management app Completo and the freelance/small business management app Yaldi.