Every business has major core elements that need to be managed. Some of the common areas include marketing, sales, human resources, operations and accounting. Here are a few tips in each of these categories.

No business can serve every possible target market. Identify the right niche market for your business and develop a specific marketing plan to reach that market. Developing strategic partnerships should be a major part of your marketing plan. It is also important to track your results.

Your marketing efforts generate leads, then your sales process converts them into clients. A good sales conversion system includes every point of contact a client could have with your company. Some points of contact include telephone, website, office visit, staff, email, advertising messages and more. Every point of contact must represent your company well and should be designed for customer conversion and retention.

The goal is to hire the right people and put them in the right places, employee turnover is time consuming and expensive. There are multiple personality types, and some are better suited for certain positions than others. Start by writing a good job description for each position. Then specify the essential skills needed, along with the personality type best suited for success. Then develop a hiring and screening process to identify top candidates.

When it comes to operations, the best advice is to hire a great operations manager. A good operations manager will understand the entire business concept, and will be very detail oriented. They will implement systems and processes to maximize productivity.

Finally, you must be able to understand basic financial statements like the income and expense statement and balance sheet. You should be able to recognize areas of concern and areas of opportunity. Understanding and managing cash flow is critically important. Many businesses thought they were very profitable when cash flow issues suddenly forced them out of business.

If you would like more free advice, contact your local SCORE office at 505-3636.

Bill Nordbrock is vice president of community relations for SCORE Southern Arizona, a nonprofit group that offers free small-business counseling and mentoring by appointment at several locations. For information, go to southernarizona.score.org, send an email to mentoring@scoresouthernaz.org or call 505-3636.