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How to be an Efficient Little Twerp in Small Business

Posted by Stephanie Valentine on October 20, 2009 in Small Business Management |

I’m kind of a manic-depressive small business owner, sometimes super-focused and other times distracted to pieces … not a good personality type for running a small business. I figured this out about myself a long time ago and realized that the only way I would ever succeed in small business is to become this:

An efficient little twerp.

What’s an Efficient Little Twerp?
“Efficient little twerp” is the phrase a friend recently used to describe me in the way that I run my small businesses. Being an efficient little twerp is how I manage to be successful in my small businesses despite my major personality flaws, and boils down to three things:

1. Being good or hiring someone better.
2. Knowing the devil is in the details.
3. Accepting AFGOs as part of business (Another Friggin’ Growth Opportunity)

So these three things make me an efficient little twerp and allow my small businesses to run smoothly. They might help you, too, if you run small businesses and suffer from some sort of personality flaws. For instance, manic-depressive cycles are just one of mine. I’m also a lazy, arrogant, in need of external validation, and a host of other foibles. Any of these sound familiar to you? In any case, here are three little rules to being an efficient little twerp in small business that may help.

1. Being Good or Hiring Someone Better
If small business owners are to be faulted in one major area, it’s usually that we believe we are super-heroes and can do EVERYTHING for our businesses. Not only can we do our main area of expertise, but feel we can also do marketing, strategizing, bookkeeping and accounting, customer relations, business development, legal work, and heavy lifting.

Not gonna happen.

We may be able to do all of these things, but chances are that we won’t do all of them well. Part of being an effective little twerp in small business is figuring out what you’re good at, and hiring people to do the rest.

For instance, I’m fairly good at writing, marketing, and online interaction. I suck at legal work, accounting, and phone-based customer support. These I hire out to people, which makes me sane, allows my business to run smoothly, and, of course, makes me the efficient little twerp that I am.

2. Knowing the Devil is in the Details
Having just said that I hire out the work at which I’m not very proficient, I have to now add a caveat. To be an efficient little twerp, I also have to understand something about the work that I’m outsourcing the others. I have to understand the details of the work I hire out, even if I don’t do it myself.

Here’s a prime example: a week before corporate taxes were due, my current accountant (not the new one I’m going with in the coming year) call me up and tell me I owe a few grand in corporate taxes. This did not sound in the least correct to me. I had sent in a payment with my extension early in the year, and didn’t understand why the taxes I still owed were so much higher than the extension. Having done my own corporate taxes for a few years, I smelled a rat.

Instead of just “rolling with the punches,” I pulled up the tax figures I had sent to the accountant and compared them to the corporate return. Bingo. I caught an accounting error where a few income sources had been doubled, which accounted for the major tax I supposedly owed. I called the accountant, got it straightened out, and now have a tax credit.

So even though I hire out my accounting work (because I know I can’t keep up with current tax law), I know enough about HOW small business accounting works to know when something is wrong. The devil is in the details, and this case, not knowing the details could have cost my business a few thousand in unnecessary taxes. Sure, I would have eventually gotten a refund, but why pay the government unnecessarily in this cash-tight economy? Now that would not be typical “efficient little twerp” behavior.

3. Accepting AFGOs as Part of Business
This is a PG-rated article, so I can’t say what AFGO really stands for, but Another Friggin’ Growth Opportunity kind of gives you the idea, right? Part of being an efficient little small business twerp is figuring out when you’ve made a gaffe, learning from it, and then moving on.

A lot of small business owners are good at figuring out that they’ve screwed up, but then they stay in “screw up land” forever. So you screwed up. Big deal. Learn from it and move on. The other day I got myself banned from an online site. Bummer … my online marketing activities really took a hit. I researched the steps needed to get unbanned, but after reading what everyone else had to say, realized that it wasn’t going to be possible in the short term. So what’s an efficient little twerp to do? Move on. There are lots of branches on the online marketing tree, so if one branch gets chopped of, just focus on some other branches for a while. No biggie and no only. It’s how I learn to better run and promote my small businesses. AFGO. It’s a good thing. Really. And every efficient little twerp not only accepts them, but eventually learns to welcome them.

I hope this small rant on the three rules I’ve discovered about being an efficient little twerp in business may in some way bring a smile to your face, give you a giggle, and maybe even help out a bit!

If you have any suggestions on being a twerp, or otherwise running a small business better, cheaper, or more enjoyably, please, leave a comment. I’d love to hear!

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