Words by Tara Young
We have scoured a huge range of small business gurus and identified close to 100 issues facing small businesses in today’s big business world. In an effort to assist in identifying the pathway to success, we've picked out a very “meaty” top 10 problems and how to overcome them.
1. Getting and keeping customers
It's all or nothing with the flow of customers - daily, weekly and monthly.
Answer: To address this ongoing issue, the only answer is to create a system for getting and keeping customers for life. It's all about creating the right services or products, or a way to maintain customer engagement at busy and quiet times. Focus on offerings or services that can be trotted out through the whole year.
2. Getting the right team when you have limited funds
It's difficult to compete with the larger businesses for the same talent when you just don’t have the same resources at your fingertips.
Answer: Create more of a sense of partnership in a smaller team; provide your new employees with a sense of wanting to build and grow with you.
3. To social network or not
This is becoming an ever important aspect of business in this day and age where technology rules.
Answer: No matter what your budget, the short answer is "YES!" And fortunately social media marketing can still be affordable. To achieve this you need to be more focused than your big business buddies. Find out who your audience really is and how they're using these platforms. Choose the platform which best describes your primary customer.
- Facebook - Families
- Twitter - High tech, younger people
- LinkedIn - Professionals
4. Managing cash flow
A huge problem is investing your own cash flow while waiting for project payment and not being able to make any investment in business growth.
Answer: One solution is to do the reverse of paying it forward. Go to your own suppliers and establish a system of credit with more flexibility.
5. Perception is reality
Many small business problems are laid at the feet of a troubled economy.
Answer: The truth is, business owners must make the conscious decision not to allow the economy to hold them back. This is the perfect time to unleash some creativity and reap the rewards.
6. Small business solution
One of the biggest challenges facing small business is to increase customer purchases and revenue while not escalating overheads.
Answer: One of the best things about being a small business is that you have the luxury of being able to really engage with your customer and listening to your customer by paying attention to what your customer is saying and asking for. This provides fantastic intelligence on keeping your customers happy.
Use this to you advantage by always asking how you can do better or what can be added. Put better bundles together so the ticket price is higher and value is added, while not a whole lot of increase in overhead happens.
7. Building a brand
This is another positive of being a small business in that it's better to go to individual stores and get placements locally before trying to get mass rollout from the corporate level.
Answer: Always think about the brand building opportunities in your own local area before worrying about trying to compete with big business global brands.
8. Be brave
This relates to number five. In a tough economy, people tend to contract rather than expand, thinking that's the way to stay in business.
Answer: It may seem counter intuitive, but this is the time to acquire market share, come out with new and innovative products and find unique marketing campaigns that distinguish you from your competition. Ultimately, it's a time to grow, not shrink!
9. Focus matters
Another big challenge facing small business is focusing more on credit, jobs or technology. Customers need shift where the services, products and solutions they used to get from small businesses will need to reflect these changes.
Answer: Small business leaders must focus all of their attention on what matters most to their (future) customers today.
10. Asking for help
Pride before a fall can be another huge challenge for small business. "I have to do it all myself," mentality is not only exhausting, it can also be highly inefficient.
Answer: There are numerous examples of where business owners have asked for help, and problems have cleared up in a matter of minutes that had been serious issues for days/weeks/even years. People are afraid to ask for help until they have exhausted all other options. 99.9% of the time, a request for help is always readily supplied.
All images courtesy of Getty