By Maria Valdez Haubrich

You’re the boss and you want to run your business the way you want. I get it. No set hours, no required number of hours or limited number of days off—it all sounds great, until it’s not great. In fact, with this approach you’re probably setting yourself up for some pretty miserable management issues down the road. You want to believe everyone has your business’s best interests at heart as much as you do, and for most employees, that’s just not reality. Plus, if you’re not running an organized business from the get-go, getting more business could end up causing more chaos than you can handle.

OK, maybe you’ve been lucky to find some really hardworking, trustworthy workers. Good for you! But not every new hire is going to turn out the way they presented themselves in the interview. Your best bet is to cover your bases and put some fundamental operating procedures in place:

Hire properly. Don’t let your business get to the panicking point where you are so desperate for help you’ll take anyone off the street. If you present the job to an applicant as “Can you help me out?” the person is not going to think of it as a real job. They’ll feel the desperation and the vibe that the job could end at any point—so why should they care? They won’t, and most likely will jump at the next opportunity that comes along. Do a proper interview and spell out what you expect from the person. Tell them your goals and where the job could go in the future. From the outset, show the person you want a contributor, not a taker. Give them ownership of their own position.

Manage properly. Have that employee handbook ready to go and policies set so when the employee starts they know exactly what is expected. For example: What time they should arrive at work and when the shift is over, proper procedures for days off, calling in sick, filling out time cards, and more. If you’ve ever had an employee who’s told you, “Oh, I can’t make it in tomorrow” and you’re stuck in a jam, you know what I’m talking about. (Include a statement about a probationary period in case the person doesn’t work out.)

Operate properly. You may be running a small business, but it won’t be small for long. The goal is to grow, right? And if you want to grow, you’d better have your systems in place before new business starts rolling in. How are your books? What about your computers—are they on their last leg? You should have an accounting system, an accountant, good technology and everything you need in place to be prepared for growth. Plus, you want to look professional if the IRS or a banker ever comes calling.

Running your own business is supposed to bring you contentment and be rewarding. If it’s just causing you moments of panic and every day is putting out fires, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at your business practices.