It isn't easy to run a small business and make it successful. Small business owners need to take advantage of every opportunity to improve how well they run their companies. Fortunately, there are free sources of excellent business advice available. One of these invaluable resources for small business owners is CNBC's business reality show, "The Profit."

"The Profit" stars hugely successful entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis, the chief executive officer (CEO) of Camping World and Good Sam Enterprises. Each week on the show, Lemonis examines and evaluates a small business, with an eye toward possibly investing his time and money to help the business and its owners navigate through operational and marketplace challenges. Small business owners and entrepreneurs can watch the show to learn valuable business lessons and see the problems encountered by other business owners, the mistakes they have made and the solutions that Lemonis provides.

The Three Ps

One of the fundamental lessons of "The Profit" is that of the central importance of the three Ps: people, processes and product. Lemonis emphasizes that all business problems – and successes – can be traced to one of these three aspects. He notes that a critical component of a successful business is making sure that all three P's are functioning smoothly and at peak efficiency. In one episode, Lemonis talks about the importance of investing the necessary time and expense to make sure that your people are properly trained to perform their jobs competently and smoothly.

Training is definitely related to two of the three P's – people and processes – and may even impact the third – product. Lemonis states that properly trained employees make fewer mistakes, work more efficiently and waste less time, and that feeling confident about performing their jobs, in fact, improves their job performances. Training has a positive impact on personnel and on smooth-functioning operational processes.

Proper training can boost product sales, too. Salespeople who have been properly and thoroughly trained to use the company's products, who know all the products' features and how to use them, make better salespeople. Their confidence and ease in using the product makes the product look easy to use and more appealing to potential customers. Knowing all of a product's features gives salespeople more material to use in closing a sale.

Carefully Manage Inventory

Another of Lemonis' lessons is that good inventory management is key to small business success. Inventory is commonly the largest figure on a company's balance sheet, the most important investment of cash that a company makes on an ongoing basis. During one episode of the show, he said, "Bad inventory management can bankrupt your business.”

It's important for small business owners to be aware of the amount, nature and location of their inventory, to know how much of the company's funds are tied up in inventory and to know what the company's inventory turnover ratio is – the amount of time that it generally takes for the company to convert all of its inventory to cash.

Lemonis recommends that businesses use a barcode system that automatically updates inventory at the time of a sale. Automated barcode inventory systems simplify and streamline placing orders to replenish inventory in a timely manner, while avoiding the trap of having piles of unneeded inventory items act as a drain on the company's cash flow, needlessly taking up both time and floor space. In one episode that featured a florist business, Lemonis clearly showed that the company's failure to track inventory was the difference between being profitable and struggling just to keep the doors open.

Find a Partner or Two

It's a difficult challenge to make a business successful when you're the only person who's truly invested in its success, both personally and financially. Lemonis has mentioned on "The Profit" the wisdom of filling key company positions with people who are not just employees, but partners with a vested interest in the business. It's a lot easier to get those necessary 18- to 20-hour days out of people who will profit from the business's profitability than from people who are just salaried or hourly employees. Invested partners are also more likely to do what's best for the business rather than what seems best for them personally at the time.

Know Your Financials

Another one of Lemonis' oft-repeated mantras is, "Know your numbers." He continually underscores the importance of being on top of key numbers, such as sales figures, profit margins and price points. Many small business owners don't even know how to read their company's basic financial statements, but Lemonis points out that "Warren Buffett certainly knows how to read a balance sheet." There is a thin margin for error in launching a small business and making it profitable, and being on top of your company's key financials helps you avoid problems or recognize them at the earliest possible moment, when they're still relatively easy to fix.

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