Getting off the ground deserves a round of applause in itself.
But once you have your small business up and running, there are a whole host of factors just waiting to take you back down. If you’re not properly prepared, you could go from owning or working for a small business, to formerly having a job in no time.
These 8 challenges are some of the biggest facing small businesses today, so keep reading to find out how you can solve them and soon be on your way to having a thriving (big) business…
Hiring the Right People
Tapping into your already established network of contacts and limiting expenses at every opportunity are two things every entrepreneur instinctively does when they first launch a business. And while these are two wise habits, one should be a little apprehensive about applying them when it comes to hiring people. Top talent is what will take your business to the next level – chances are you won’t find it if you’re not willing pay for it or cast a wide net when looking for it.
Taking Time to Rejuvenate
Anyone who’s started a business will tell you they worked consecutive 14-hour days during its infancy. That’s expected, and mostly fine. What’s not fine is doing that for months on end without any period to disconnect. Not only is stepping back from being face-first in laptop screens and paperwork essential for your personal well-being, clearing your mind also allows you to get an alternative perspective on your business. There’s nothing more beneficial than returning to the grind refreshed and motivated.
Building a Positive Culture
No one’s going to expect you to dish out corner offices and Xbox lounges, but building a positive company culture is essential to both attract and hold on to talent. Inspiring passion in your team, establishing a fulfilling purpose for the work, and instilling belief in the company’s vision are great ways to ensure employees love coming to work every day – and they don’t cost a dime. Developing that culture should be one of the first and foremost priorities of any small business.
Growing an Audience/Customer Base
If you’re a business, you’re obviously selling something. That requires customers or, more broadly, an audience. Remember what we said about hiring the right people? Make sure you find someone that’s an absolute pro at building communities and developing a customer base. Once you have an audience, you can essentially sell anything – it’s how Netflix went from being a DVD distributor to the world’s largest online streaming service or, on a smaller scale, how fashion bloggers turn into shoe designers.
The thing about growth is that it always plateaus. Sure, you might be killing it just a few months after launching your business, but it’ll come quickly crashing down if you don’t scale your business properly. There’s nothing worse than hiring a bunch of people and making hasty investments during a period of acceleration only to be forced to lay them off again and take on crippling debt shortly after because your forecasting was too short-sighted.
Unless your business is a one-in-a-million social media darling, chances are a considerable amount of money will be committed to marketing during the early stages. This can be a massive waste of resources if your marketing strategy isn’t well planned or executed. Perhaps even more troubling is the damage to your brand – when you’re trying to convince people to buy your product, you only get one chance to make an impression. Make sure they receive exactly the message you intend.
Investing, funding, cash flow management, responsible spending, optimizing expenses, balancing spreadsheets – a lot of these things don’t come naturally to most people. Do you need an office or can everyone just work remotely? How much should I pay a graphic designer? Do we need a social media manager or can we manage that role collectively? Since small business owners can’t afford to hire full-time financial advisors or accountants, budgeting is just something to add to the entrepreneurial learning curve. Luckily, there are more than enough resources available online that can help you make the most of a small budget.
Too Much Information
It’s easy for small business owners to get overwhelmed by all the information out there – the internet’s a big place, after all. This is where focus is absolutely essential. Know exactly what you’re looking for and don’t let yourself get sidetracked by things that don’t directly improve your business. The ability to block out unnecessary noise is one of the most valuable skills seasoned business professionals develop.