While getting to be your own boss is great, being a small business owner is often tiring and difficult work. Many of us, however, continue to drive through the challenges because the work and the outcomes of our hard work is so rewarding.
As a small business owner, you will face hardship, fear, uncertainty, stress, and strain; but by making it through these difficulties, both your and your business will learn and grow exponentially. Here are several common challenges small business owners face and tips for overcoming them.
Overcoming Common Small Business Challenges
1. Getting caught up in the short-term. It’s important to focus on short-term goals for your sales, marketing, and other aspects of your business; just be sure you aren’t letting it cloud your long-term visions. It’s easy to get caught up in setting and achieving short-term goals because they are simpler, easier, and faster; however, if your short-term goals don’t feed into or contribute to your long-term goals in any way, they aren’t doing you any favors in the long run. You need to be able to both look ahead (way ahead!) and focus on the here-and-now. You can avoid any short sightedness by creating a yearly plan for your small business and then breaking it down into quarterly or monthly plans followed by weekly plans. And make sure these plans are transparent to everyone within your company who needs to be involved in both the short-term and long-term plans.
2. Doing it all yourself. As the owner of a small business, you are probably tempted to have a hand in each and every aspect of your business. While it’s important for you to be aware of what’s going on, you don’t necessarily have to have a hand in all of it. Learning to let go of parts of your business can be extremely challenging, but by delegating your social media marketing efforts, for example, you’ll be able to focus more of your time and energy on the big picture or overhead of your business, which is where your brainpower is really needed. And you’ll have peace of mind knowing your company’s social media is getting handled by someone who is a marketing pro. If you are quite ready to hire full-time on-site staff, you can always look into cost effective options like hiring freelancers or outsourcing work to qualified professionals.
3. Balancing new and existing customers. Customers are the lifeline of your business. Without them, you’d have no company! Taking care of existing customers and finding new ones, however, can be quite the balancing act. You want to be sure you and your staff are able to adequately find and attract new customers to help your business expand, but you also want to build and maintain relationships with your current customers. Your salesperson or sales team should be able to find appropriate leads and prospects for you while your customer service personnel will be able to help your organization retain its current business.
4. Managing your finances. Your company’s ability to stay in business will be almost entirely dependant on its financial stability. Starting a new business is a massive drain on finances, and it’s common for young companies to not be able to recoup startup costs for several months or years. It’s important to understand your market, plan accordingly, have a backup, and understand your current financial state to ensure your small business’ cash flow isn’t interrupted or halted. You need to have a deep understanding of where every cent within your organization is going: How much money is coming in? How much is going out? This will ensure you don’t overspend and can plan for slower months. Ensure your bookkeeping is accurate and up-to-date. If you’re not the most financially savvy person, hire an accountant to help you manage your business’ finances. (That’s one cost you won’t want to cut!)
As a small business owner, it’s important to remember that failure is always and option; you just have to adequately plan for it! The worst thing you can do in the face of failure is give up. Instead, don’t give up, learn from the experience, and apply it to the future growth of your company.