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Describe the different forms of organizational structure and how they apply to small businesses. Organizing consists of grouping people and assigning activities so that job tasks and the mission of a business can be properly carried out.
Objectives “give meaning to the business—and to the work done by employees—by determining what it is attempting to accomplish.”John M. The resources of a small business and its employees must be coordinated to minimize duplication and maximize effectiveness.William M. When a one-person small business adds employees, some kind of hierarchy will be needed to indicate who does what.
The informal organizationAll the connections and relationships that relate to how people throughout an organization actually network to get the job done. The formal and informal organizations need to work together to sustain peak performance over time. They are static and inflexible, often being out of date as organizations change and go through growth phases.
They cannot cope with changing boundaries of firms due to outsourcing, information technology, strategic alliances, and the network economy. In its early stages, a small business may choose not to create a formal organization chart. Two major types of authority that the small business owner should understand are line and staff.
Staff authorityAdvisory only; there is no authority to take action and no responsibility for revenue generation. Depending on various factors, organizations move back and forth on the centralization-decentralization continuum.
Several management principles can be used as guidelines when designing an organizational structure. The division of laborA job can be performed much more efficiently if the jobholder is allowed to specialize. Span of control (span of management)The number of people or subordinates that a manager supervises. The scalar principleAuthority and responsibility should flow in a clear, unbroken line from the highest manager to the lowest manager. Knowledge about organization structures is important for a small business that is already up and running as well as a small business in its early stages. The functional structure gives employees and their respective departments clear objectives and purpose for their work.
The divisional structureA decentralized version of the functional structure in which functions still exist in an organization but are based on product, geographic area or territory, or customer. The divisional structure can work well because it focuses on individual geographic regions, customers, or products. As a small business starts to grow in the diversity of its products, in the geographic reach of its markets, or in its customer bases, there is an evolution away from the functional structure to the divisional structure. The matrix structureBrings together specialists from different areas of a business to work on different projects on a short-term basis.
The matrix structure is for project-oriented businesses, such as aerospace, construction, or small manufacturers of the job-shop variety (producers of a wide diversity of products made in small batches).
The virtual organization (or network organization)Administration is the primary function performed; other functions—such as marketing, engineering, production, and finance—are outsourced to other organizations or individuals. The positives associated with a virtual organization include reduced real-estate expenses, increased productivity, higher profits, improved customer service, access to global markets, environmental benefits (such as reduced gas mileage for employees, which contributes to reduced auto emissions), a wider pool of potential employees, and not needing to have all or some of the relevant employees in the same place at the same time for meetings or delivering services.John M. Thinking and rethinking the business organization structure is important for all businesses—large or small. Organizations are changing every day, so small business owners should be flexible enough to change their structure over time as the situation demands. The functional structure is overwhelmingly the choice of business start-ups and is probably the most commonly used structure today. The functional structure organizes a business according to the job or the purpose in the organization and is most easily recognized by departments that focus on a single function or goal. As a small business starts to grow, there is an evolution away from the functional to the divisional structure. The matrix structure brings specialists from different areas of a business together to work on different projects for a short-term basis. In the virtual structure, administration is the primary function performed, with other functions—such as marketing, engineering, production, and finance—outsourced to other companies or individuals.
Creating an effective business organization structure should take the competition, the industry, compliance or legal requirements, investors, and lending sources into consideration. Select two small businesses that market two very different products, for example, a small manufacturer and a restaurant. Frank Rainsford has been, in effect, the CEO of Frank’s All-American BarBeQue since its inception. Let’s now look at why you spent money in each of those buckets.  For instance, do you have a lease agreement for your rent; do you have loan agreements for borrowed money?  Did you need to hire a plumber to fix that clogged toilet?  What type of depreciation schedule did your accountant develop for your equipment?
Now that you have a good sense of why each bucket is there, count up what you know will be your fixed expenses, by month, for the upcoming year. Let’s look at your variable expenses.  Assuming you understand why you put variable expenses in other buckets ask yourself – will I need to spend money this year in those areas as well, and, how much? If there are variable expenses you think you will need to make, create a bucket for those as well. Once you answer these questions put the numbers on that spreadsheet and add up as you did with the fixed expenses. Since we are developing a monthly and annual budget, you will need to prepare a monthly and an annual forecast. Look at your various products or services and assess realistically how much of each you want to sell and with what pricing strategies.
Now, compare your monthly and annual sales or profits forecast total to your monthly and annual expense forecast.  Hopefully your sales and profits forecast are greater than your forecast expenses.  Are your product or service markups high enough, realistic enough?
Before using your budget as a plan for increased profit, make sure your projected year-end profit is large enough to make a return on your investment and a return on your own work-pay.
Warren runs The Executive Suite, providing leadership & executive coaching programs, professional recruitment, One Page Business Plans, and franchise coaching services to businesses.
Unfortunately it’s a necessary evil that we must review the past to plan for the future, and in this case an important process to go through as a small business. Without dwelling on the previous year (whether good or bad) it’s important to use the information to move forward. Budgeting is very important and this article is really giving me idea on how to do it successfully. Installing a plugin takes all of 12 seconds in WordPress, and I’d much rather add what I want to WordPress core than have to deal with what Concrete5 feels are the best SEO controls for my website. This post is primarily about the contributors I’m happy to let others take the spotlight! Tweak Your Biz is a business community - a place where business professionals like you can stand out.
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Frances McGuckin receives Special Achievement Award from the 2003 Surrey International Writers Conference! The result of the organizing process should be an overall structure that permits interactions among individuals and departments needed to achieve the goals and objectives of a business.David L. Rather, the organization decision is based on a multitude of factors, including business size, market, product mix, competition, the number of employees, history, objectives and goals, and available financial resources.John M.
However, organization must exist even without a chart so that the business can be successful. These authorities reflect the existing relationships between superiors and subordinates.Samuel C.
For example, managing a crisis requires more centralized decision making because decisions need to be made quickly.Zhiang Lin and Kathleen M. Although there are many principles to consider, the focus here is on unity of command, division of work, span of control, and the scalar principle. Organizations are changing every day, so small business owners should be flexible enough to change the structure over time as the situation demands, perhaps by using the contingency approachThere is no “one best” structure appropriate for every organization. People in accounting can focus on improving their knowledge and skills to perform that work. However, significant growth would be needed before the divisional structure should be put into place. By outsourcing much of the operations of a business, costs and capital requirements will be significantly reduced and flexibility enhanced.
Having a business organization structure will give potential investors and funding institutions a window into how the business organizes its operations. The functions still exist, but they are based on product, geographic area or territory, or customer.
This structure is for project-oriented businesses, such as aerospace, construction, or small manufacturers. Contact the manager of each business and conduct a fifteen-minute interview about the organizational structure that has been chosen. His major role has been that of restaurant manager, receiving support from his assistant manager Ed Tobor for the last fourteen years. Some of us see budgeting as a distraction from living in the moment.  Thoughtful budgeting does result from thoughtful discussions and helps turn expectations into reality. Now, let’s look at the other side.  How much do you need to sell in order to cover your expenses, make a profit, AND grow your business?
I have seen too many realise their mistakes and get bogged down in those mistakes, to repeat them the following year because they did not learn from them and change their strategy.
Therefore I think it’s useful in both cases to create a buffer and plan for over or under estimations.
It may be unsexy or simply a chore but the benefits of putting together a budget are so valuable. I’m delighted to be included with so many people that I enjoy reading and connecting with! Read the specialists, share your opinions and sign up to become recognized for sharing your expertise by writing on this site!
An award-winning motivational small business speaker, consultant, columnist, and best-selling small business author, Frances' books are published globally.
Read ArticleFrances was interviewed for a small business article on buying a business, September 2004. At times, principles can be used exactly as the way they are stated; at other times they should be modified or even completely ignored. It consists of all the connections and relationships that relate to how people throughout the organization actually network to get a job done. Most small businesses find organization charts to be useful because they help the owner or the manager track growth and change in the organizational structure.William M.
Carley, “Organizational Design and Adaptation in Response to Crises: Theory and Practice,” Academy of Management Proceedings, 2001, B1–B6.
These principles are applicable to small businesses although, as has been said earlier, they should not be seen as etched in stone. Each person in a business should know who gives him or her the authority to make decisions and do the job.
The span of control typically becomes smaller as a person moves up the management hierarchy. This structure organizes a business according to job or purpose in the organization and is most easily recognized by departments that focus on a single function or goal. This structure has also been shown to work well for businesses that operate in a relatively stable environment.John M.
The functions still exist in the organization, but they are based on product, geographic area or territory, or customer. Each person on the project team reports to two bosses: a line manager and a project manager. It is important to be flexible in creating a business structure that will best allow a business to operate effectively and efficiently. Perhaps an industry lends itself to flexible organization structures, or perhaps more hierarchical structures are the norm. Even if an industry is not regulated, there may be compliance issues associated with employing a certain number of employees.
Ask each manager to describe the existing organizational structure (drawing an organization chart), explain why that structure was chosen, and reflect on the effectiveness and efficiency of the structure.
Frank has two children, a son and daughter, who both worked in the restaurant as teenagers.
When businesses don’t prepare an annual budget and wonder why reality doesn’t meet their expectations, it may be time to take a second look at the benefits of small business budgeting. Sales commissions, payroll taxes, insurance, advertising, and delivery expenses are other examples of variable expenses.  Sort these by month and total them for the year into a number of different buckets. They simply used up the energy on negative results rather than focusing their energy on positive budgeting and planning. Sometimes we need to get a clearer picture of how the business is really performing so we can plan on taking the right actions for the right reasons.
Enjoy sample chapters and a mine of small business information or look under For Meeting Planners for details of how to book Frances to speak at your next conference. Watch an Online DemonstrationSee the product in action in this brief 5 minute video demonstration. Although small business owners may believe that they do not need to adhere to the organizing principles of management, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Small business owners must learn through experience when and where to use [the] principles or to modify them [emphasis added].
Objectives provide direction for organizing a firm, helping to identify the work that must be done to accomplish the objectives. Someone with staff authority assists those with line authority as well as others who have staff authority. A relatively small number of line managers make the decisions and hold most of the authority and power.

A noncrisis or a normal work situation would favor decentralized decision making and encourages employee empowerment and delegated authority.John M. They can be modified or ignored altogether depending on the business, the situation at hand, and the experience of management.Samuel C. Having conflicting orders from multiple bosses will create confusion and frustration about which order to follow and result in contradictory instructions.John M. Individual professionals may or may not share office space, the organization is geographically distributed, the members of the organization communicate and coordinate their work through information technology, and there is a high degree of informal communication.
This makes a business much more financially attractive to potential investors or banks, which might provide funding for future growth. Look at their reporting line structures and their procurement, production, marketing, and management systems.
Also ask each manager whether any thoughts have been given to changing the existing structure. His daughter has worked periodically at the restaurant since she graduated from high school.
Principles when used effectively and in the right context often bring organizational efficiencies and thus result in the growth of the business.
Understanding these fundamentals can facilitate the creation of an organizational structure that is a good fit for a small business.
The formal organizational structure helps employees feel safe and secure because they know exactly what their chain of command is. It is organized according to a hierarchy, typically expressed in the organization chart, where one manager may have authority over some employees while being subject to the formal authority of a superior at the same time. Examples of staff authority are human resources, legal, and accounting, each of which is relevant to a small business. DecentralizationAuthority and job activities are delegated rather than being held by a small management group. Abiding by this principle will result in more effective decision making and communication at various levels in the organization.
Rather, this approach contends the ‘best’ structure for an organization fits its needs for the situation at the time.”Patricia M. ROIA performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or compare the efficiency of several investments. All businesses must continually coordinate the activities of others—an effort that should never be underestimated. Informal groups and the infamous grapevine are firmly embedded in the informal organization. Formal authority also encompasses the allocation of an organization’s resources to achieve its objectives.Samuel C. Buhler, “Changing Organizational Structures and Their Impact on Managers,” Supervision, 2011, 24–26. The son produced several plans to expand the business, including the opening of a second restaurant and the extensive use of social media. The grapevine (or water cooler)The informal communications network within an organization, separate from—and sometimes much faster than—formal channels of communication.
Authority and job activities are delegated rather than being held by a small management group.Samuel C.
There are no universally accepted guidelines for determining whether a centralized or a decentralized approach should be used. In addition, violating the unity of command will undermine authority, divide loyalty, and create a situation in which responsibilities can be evaded and work efforts will be duplicated and overlapping. Companies are flattening their structures by reducing their layers of management, particularly middle management. Following this principle is particularly important to small businesses because the tendency may otherwise be to operate on a more informal basis because of the size of the business.
If a small business employs fewer than fifteen people, it may not be necessary to worry too much about its organizational structure. ROAAn indicator of how profitable a business is relative to its assets and indicates how efficient management is at using its assets to generate earnings.
After careful consideration, Frank has decided to open a second restaurant, but this has presented him with a major problem—how to assign responsibilities to personnel. He is an ardent advocate of innovation, creativity, and inspirational change in business in life. Small businesses have a definite advantage here because their size allows for more flexibility and manageability.
As a small business grows, a decision may be made to add staff personnel because the most significant factor in determining whether or not to add personnel is the size of a business. It has been noted, however, that, “the best organizations are those that are able to shift flexibly from one level of centralization to another in response to changing external conditions.”Francis Fukuyama, “Why There Is No Science of Public Administration,” Journal of International Affairs, Fall 2004, 189–201. As mentioned earlier, small businesses are commonly staffed with people who wear multiple hats, including the owner. Alan Randolph, “Cross-Functional Structures: A Review and Integration of Matrix Organization and Project Management,” Journal of Management, June 1992, 2. His son wants to be designated the restaurant manager of the second restaurant and made the vice president of marketing. The larger the organization, the greater the need and the ability to hire staff personnel to provide specialized expertise.Samuel C. Given the flexibility and the responsiveness of small businesses that originate from their size, any movement that is needed along the centralization-decentralization continuum will be much easier and quicker.
However, the larger the business, the more desirable it will be to have people specialize to improve efficiency and productivity.
The day-to-day tasks of those with line authority involve working directly toward accomplishing an organization’s mission, goals, and objectives.K.
To do otherwise will be to slow down processes and use more resources than should be necessary.
As a small business grows, there will likely be more management hierarchy unless the small business owner is committed to a flatter organization.
The position on the organization chart will be indicative of the amount of authority and formal power held by a particular individual.
Small business owners must acknowledge the existence of the grapevine and figure out how to use it constructively. Small businesses, however, may prefer to hire outside service providers for staff functions such as legal and accounting services because it would be difficult to keep such people busy full time. Examples of positions with line authority are the president, the vice president of operations, and the marketing manager.
In a small business, the owner or the top manager will have line authority over his or her subordinates.
The extent of line authority beyond the owner or the top manager will depend on the size of the business and the organizational vision of the owner. The disadvantages notwithstanding, many companies with multiple business units, operations in multiple countries, and distribution through multiple channels have discovered that the effective use of a matrix structure is their only choice.Jay R.

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