MBA programs provide their students with the skills and tools needed to be able to manage a business and its different departments. Some students will specialize in the management of human resources, others in running the production departments, while more will concentrate on other various specialties. But in the end, all successful students will pick up the skills needed to run a business. If you are interested in becoming a small business owner, then there is no educational option that can better prepare you for the actual experience than getting into and completing a MBA program.
Case studies are one of the most practical methods that MBA programs use to teach their students. After all, while unpleasant experiences are painful, it is much better for you to learn from the bad decisions and misfortune of others than to experience them on a first-hand basis. Instead, the study of case studies can provide you with the first-hand experience of others, simultaneously providing you with both a lesson in business management and the example necessary to hammer that lesson home.
Unsurprisingly, the study of cases revolving around the successes and failures of other entrepreneurs will do the most in preparing you for your future ambition of becoming a small business owner because those are the cases that are most relevant to your situation. Indeed, the closer the case study to your exact circumstances, the better.
Examples of Successful Small Business Strategies
The problem with running a small business is that there is so little margin of error. An established business might be able to coast through a number of consecutive bad periods on its accumulated resources and the lines of credit made available through its good reputation, whereas a small business will find the same task much harder to accomplish. Its resource pool is simply too small and its reputation too newly established.
In short, you must be careful as a small business owner when creating and executing business strategies because your margin of error will be that much slimmer. Earning a MBA can provide you with the tools to accomplish both of those aims successfully, but it is actual experience in running a business, both earned first-hand or gleaned second-hand from case studies, that will test and hone those skills to the necessary point.
Here are some examples of strategies for small businesses that can make the difference between success and failure:
* A project that starts well is more likely to proceed well. Do the research on the competition before you start up your business, check to see if there is any demand, and use your hard-won skills to find the best location to put your business. If your research indicates that your business will find it impossible or ridiculously difficult to succeed, then don’t do it. Learn your limitations and never commit to taking on more than what you can handle because failure is painful and bears long-lasting consequences. This doesn’t mean that you should be discouraged from pursuing your dream, only that you should be smart about it and not let your enthusiasm overwhelm you.
* Don’t bother trying to compete head to head against bigger and better established businesses on points where you cannot possibly hope to contend successfully. For example, if you are trying to compete against Walmart on the pricing of your products, then you might want to take a second look at your cost structure and take some time to reconsider your decision. Instead, differentiate your business from the competition by focusing on the aspects that you can make equal or better. One prominent area that is commonly brought up at this point is the quality of your labor force. Unsurprisingly, a labor force that is trained appropriately to handle all situations, well-treated, and invested in the success of your business will perform better than a labor force that does not. You are in a position to motivate your employees by working alongside them, treating them with respect, listening to their opinions, and binding their future to the success of your business by providing them with incentives such as partial ownership.
* Similarly, customer service is another point where you can compete on even ground with your main competitors. Good customer service makes for satisfied customers, and satisfied customers are much more likely to be repeat customers who take the time to spread word of your business to their friends and family. Once again, good customer service is defined by respect. Be transparent about your business’s practices to your customers, never make promises that you cannot or will not fulfill, and teach your employees to do the same. This doesn’t mean that you need to kow-tow to your customers at all times and under all situations, but it does mean that you’ll need to treat them with respect instead of ignoring or railroading them in a bad attempt to avoid taking responsibility.
* Consider using alternatives to the traditional service providers for businesses to see if there are any that are cheaper and thus more suitable for your small business. For example, if your business needs a private branch exchange to be able to handle incoming phone traffic, that doesn’t mean that you have to spend the money to purchase, set up, and then operate an in-house system. Instead, consider paying for a virtual private branch exchange hosted on your service provider’s servers. Not only is this cheaper and easier to use, but it also lets your employees work from home at anytime and from any place.
Sarah Rawson contributed this guest. She tutors online for various MBA Degree programs. Sarah is also a freelance writer and her articles mainly appear on business and education blogs.