Hints for survival as an Interim Manager

Run the Business as a Business

The most important advice anyone can give you about operating as an Interim Manager is to treat it like a business and ensure you separate out your personal and business commitments. This applies equally to whether you are employed as a casual employee or as a sub contractor. If you feel you can’t cope with running the business seek professional help to do so.

Business is business. You need to treat your employment like a business. The business employs you and therefore you have to approach things from the angles of both shareholder/employer and employee. Sometimes these can conflict and you will need to manage that conflict.

Develop an Effective Business Plan
It is also very important to have a clear understanding of what you are seeking to achieve and how you are going to do that. No matter their size, all businesses need a good plan and the one-person business is no exception.

The plan doesn’t have to be complex but it should include an overall goal and some financial targets, as well as the number and type of clients you hope to deal with. It should also deal with where and how you are going to seek work. If you leave it to the end of each current assignment to start looking for the next you are going to have a lot of unplanned time off.

Financial Control
Make sure you set up good systems to manage the finances of your business. Put in place measures to ensure you are aware of your financial situation at all times. Don’t forget that capital expenditures such as for computing equipment and motor vehicles are subject to depreciation and are not deducted in full in the year of purchase even though the cash may come out of the business in the first year. Make your accountant your closest advisor, especially in the early years of establishing the business.

Be realistic about the amount of money you take out of your business as salary. Make sure you can cover your running expenses, taxation and other commitments in addition to the income you wish to make. Too often, people setting up personal services businesses make the mistake of drawing all their revenue as income and forget to leave aside funds for the GST, Company tax, PAYE tax, annual insurance premiums, sick and holiday pay and other commitments.

It is important to set a budget at the beginning of each year that recognises all of your forecast expenses and makes allowance for them. Don’t forget to accrue outstanding debts as well as credits on a regular basis so that you are aware of the real financial state of your business before making any decisions.

Look after the Administration
Good administration is important to reducing the frustration you will feel when you have to spend a good part of your weekend or other personal time “doing the books”. A simple but effective filing system can be a great assistance; and doing your administration in small bursts on a regular basis rather then leaving it all until the taxman or regulator is knocking on your door can make life a lot easier for you. There is anecdotal evidence that many of personal services providers manage their own small business out of the proverbial “shoebox”, yet earn a large part of their income advising large corporations about the benefits of effective and efficient administration.

Keep records up to date. This keeps you in touch with the state of the business and ensures your decisions are made against good data and information. It also lessens the likelihood of surprises

Establish and Maintain Good Networks
Establishing and maintaining good networks is useful for two purposes. The most obvious one is that they can be a source of future business. Equally important however is their value in ensuring that you don’t feel alone and isolated and have regular contact with people you know and trust. This is particularly important if you move from client to client as you may not have the time to establish any long term relationships.