Monthly Archives: January 2014

What is a “Tiny Business”?

I think there’s a big difference between a small business and a tiny business and in many ways it is harder for a tiny business.  To me a small business has anywhere from 20 to a couple of hundred employees whereas a tiny business has 10 or fewer employees and often only 1 or 2.  The businesses that got me started on this track only had 1 person and when there’s only 1 person that person has to make sure everything gets done.  That 1 person doesn’t have the built in sounding board of other people who share their idea and the passion for the business that can exist in a small business or even a slightly larger tiny business.  When it’s just you it’s even more important to have some built-in things to help you determine where you want to go and help keep you on track when there’s a million things demanding your attention and all of them urgent.  I’ve sifted through the industry best practices and my experiences helping service delivery organizations and boiled them to the bare essentials in SOHO Operations Planning.  Discussions, examples, case studies, templates, etc. will be part of Tiny Business Mentor and this blog is the crucible of its development.  The Tiny Business Mentor will provide the owner and operator of tiny business with an approach to build in those things necessary to help keep your eye on the prize while not getting tripped up by the everyday details and in so doing will significantly improve the chances of success and profit.

There are at least two parts involved in this approach and they can be developed all at once or in a round robin fashion working on one or the other when “inspiration” strikes.  You may mentally replace “inspiration” with “desperation” if you wish.

The first part involves documenting your vision in no more than two pages.  This becomes your “two minute” elevator speech that you bring out when anyone asks “whatcha’ been doing lately?” It’s also useful in customer introductions.

The second part is operations planning.  This is where you think about key questions on “how” you’re going to deliver your services.  This is not the same as business planning which focuses on finance and markets and it is not the same as legal planning where your focus on liabilities and protections.

Next time I think I’ll talk about the “vision” development.  What it looks like, hints on developing a vision and how it can be used.

It’s available!!

So it has begun.  The paper has been on Amazon for 4 days now and I have a feeling of accomplishment.  True, I’m not “published” where a publisher has reviewed my material and deemed it suitable for publishing but I have made a commitment and a public one at that.  But what if someone actually pays the $1.99 and then feels cheated? What if they don’t like it or think it’s wrong or just bone headed?  I guess life will go on. Not only has my skin thickened over the years but I really do think this is something that people who want to provide a service as a vocation, avocation or even a hobby could benefit from especially if they’ve already tried and found it more difficult or less rewarding than they anticipated.
I have a plan and the paper (did I mention it was available at: amazon.com/dp/B00HMTTLG6 ?) is only one piece.  I will be using this blog to expand on the paper with examples, case studies, and templates.  I will discuss other small business resources (web sites, books, conferences, etc.) and includ my thoughts and experiences with them.  Eventually this will all be brought together into a book based on both the SOHO Operations Planning paper and this blog.
A big part of this plan is getting the word out so I have set up facebook, email and twitter accounts for just this purpose.  I intend to reach out via LinkedIn and my friends and neighbors … no one is safe!
As part of full disclosure, variations of stulesley IDs (facebook/stulesley, stulesley@hotmail.com, etc.) and StuartLLesley (facebook/stuartllesley, stuart.l.lesley@outlook.com, etc.) are the same person … me.  My stulesley persona is primarily my personal life and my Stuart.L.Lesley persona is my professional life and to make things even more interesting I have a full time working life as a Systems Engineer at The MITRE Corporation which has a completed different set of IDs, etc.
I am very excited about this and it’s not about the money!! I’ve been working on this for over a year and I think it can be a real help.  My next post will start the actual discussion in this area so stand by to stand by.
Thanks everyone and hope to hear from you soon,
Sincerely,
Stu

My apologies to Star Wars but what better title could I use on New Year’s day 2014 starting a new business venture – Tiny Business Mentor (TBM)? Later today I will add the link to my opening paper on Amazon.com “A short paper on Small Office/Home Office (SOHO) operations planning”.  Here’s an excerpt: ——————————————————————————————————— SOHO: Small office/home office (or single office/home office; SOHO) refers to the category of business or cottage industry that involves from 1 to 10 workers. Downloaded from Wikipedia on12/29/2013 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_office/home_office What are the critical, profit creating and business sustaining operations that a SOHO needs to be aware of?  Based on industry best practices and years of experience this paper provides the key elements that a SOHO owner needs to know.  Following the practices provided here will go a long way towards keeping your SOHO a source of fulfillment and profit rather than frustration and loss. My primary source for industry’s best practices is the Software Engineering Institute’s (SEI) Capability Maturity Model Integration for Services (CMMI-SVC).

Prolog

I’ve been involved in many projects large and small both as a project leader and team member.  It’s been my experience that the projects that were both smaller and shorter needed greater attention to things like budget and schedule because there was less room for error.  If a large project that was scheduled to last 18 months ran over budget for 1 or 2 months there would be time to detect and correct the problem, assuming it wasn’t the last few months.  On the other hand, a small project that is scheduled to last 3 months had the same problem by the time the problem is detected the project is almost over and there’s no time for any kind of recovery action.  I think a SOHO business is very much like a small short project, i.e. not a whole lot of room for detection of problems and their recovery.  One of the key features of operations planning is to put some things into place early to keep those problems from happening and when they happen anyway give you the tools to detect them early and correct them quickly.  I know you know your business inside and out and are an expert in your field but you’re probably still not convinced that you need this “operations planning stuff”.

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