Small Business Problems (and the challenge of overcoming them)
Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but small business owners face a somewhat unique set of challenges. As your business grows, so different problems arise, demanding different solutions. This article highlights four of the most common small business problems and outlines a possible solution to each.
Probably one of the most common mistakes business owners make is continuing to try and do everything themselves. In the early days of a business startup, you are very often cast in the role of “Jack of all Trades”. After all, if you yourself don’t do it, who will? The need to work all hours in order to get everything done. The pressure of wearing all those hats and the mental stress of having to switch between tasks at a moment’s notice all take their toll. You may be able to maintain this for some time, but the risk of becoming forgetful, disorganised and making mistakes increases; and this could be costly.
The solution? Put simply, is to pace yourself. In practical terms, this means developing strategic delegation. Identify and list those tasks that do not need your expertise, together with those that require skills outside of your skillset. Delegate these to either a member of staff, or a Virtual Assistant. Regard the expense of hiring a VA as an investment in your business and focus on the saved time and the fact that the results of the outsourced work will be more professional than you would have achieved otherwise!
Consider using task automation software, where possible. Various programmes and apps are available for providing, for example, financial management solutions, as well as customer service apps, like Zendesk.
I recently wrote a blog post about integrating self-care as a business strategy. This is vital to the longevity of your business and your continued well-being. Try to segment your diary. Analyse how and where you work best, allocate family/social time and block that out in your diary as non-negotiable. Identify key tasks and how long they will take and schedule these – and stick to it!
Be a client-magnet!
Research your client base and identify those clients who give you the highest volume of sales and most repeat custom. Take account of any associated costs and this will give you the net value of each client. Once you have this information, you can work on attracting more of the same. You may find that this will go some way to streamlining the services you offer – Win, win!
Attract and retain the right staff.
One of the most common small business problems encountered relates to staff – attracting the right ones in the first place and then holding on to them as your business requirements change. In a small business, staff with the wrong attitude will have a greater negative impact. Ensuring good staff communication, listening to your staff and acting on any concerns will ensure a happy workforce. They will, in turn, repay your investment with increased motivation and flexibility. Recruit the right people, in the beginning, ensuring they have the specific skill sets you require, but also the flexibility to learn new ones and to adapt to change.
Flexibility is key.
Assuming you will remain successful because you have been successful in the past is a mistake. Instead, take time to revisit and revise your business plan. An updated plan can highlight the areas where change is needed and will give you some idea of how to keep up with ever-changing market conditions. This might include changing suppliers to another who can meet your updated requirements or who offers a more reliable service. As your business evolves, so reliability might prove more important than the cheapest offering. Investing in new employees or retraining existing ones will ensure they have the requisite skills to help you move your business forward. Renegotiating contracts in light of increased volume may also be necessary.
Being flexible and open to change is a pre-requisite for sustainability and growth in your business. Change, in whatever form is necessary, requires careful planning and monitoring, but will help you to make the most of any opportunities that come your way!
Let me know what challenges you have faced and the solutions you have found to your small business problems. I would love to know!
If you would like to talk to me about how I can divert some of your small business problems and head them off at the pass, then please get in touch. I offer a range of services aimed at small businesses and work on either a long-term or ad-hoc basis (or anywhere in between!)