1. Working long hours
Although there are upsides to being your own boss, running a small business is a 24/7 job – making calls, writing emails, updating social media, ordering stock – as well as having fewer employees and resources at your disposal. Because of this, our work/life balance suffers.
To overcome these business challenges, you need to remember that we achieve more when we do less. Take short breaks throughout the day to prevent burnout. Drink plenty of water, eat healthy and get a good night’s sleep. Doing simple exercise can also help relieve stress. Prioritise your goals – complete the most important ones yourself while outsourcing the rest. Also focus on the positives and what’s going right for your business.
A lot of uncertainty comes with being a business owner. Mistakes will happen along the way, but they also help us to see what works, help strengthen your leadership skills, and solve business problems in the long run.
While it can be rewarding to watch your business grow, it shouldn’t be at the expense of your mental health or personal relationships.
2. Maintaining cash flow
One of the biggest challenges facing business owners, lumpy cash flow can occur for a number of reasons: bad debt, overdue payments, impulse spending, high overhead expenses, or slim profit margins. Not only can this place a huge financial toll on your business, but also an emotional and mental one.
To improve your cash flow, make sure customers make payments on time. Keep your invoices and bookkeeping up to date by using cloud-based software and electronic payment solutions like PayPal, Stripe or eWay, or hire an accountant. If you sell to other businesses, consider a business-to-business payment solution like Moula Pay. Prepare a cash flow budget, review your business plan and look at ways to reduce your expenses.
Prepare and file taxes on time, otherwise you might incur interest payments, penalties or audits. Cover certain payments or purchases by accessing your cash reserve, or by getting an unsecured business loan. Although these are only meant to be short-term solutions to ongoing cash flow problems, it’s good to have such options in case of emergencies.
Check out our cash flow management checklist for a more in-depth guide to staying on top of cash flow.
3. Hiring the right people
As your business grows, so too will your responsibilities, so it’s good to take some of the pressure off by hiring new team members.
But certain business problems might impact your search for new talent: a lack of proper training, having to compete with a supply chain or other large companies, finding applicants who have the right skills and expertise, offering the right salary. Will hiring a new employee be beneficial for your business right now, or will it pose a financial risk?
In order to build a highly qualified team, you need people who are suitable, who share your company’s vision, and will fit in with the culture. Be upfront about the fact that as a small business, they might have to take on several different roles. Consider the impact they will have on current profit margins, along with the impact on your personal income and other associated costs (such as extra space, insurance, advertising).
4. Business expansion
The temptation to expand when you start to experience business growth is huge.
But it can also lead to a lot of unrealistic expectations and other business expansion problems, as well as complacency. Expand too quickly without accurately determining your product’s cost and demand, and your business may become unsustainable. Don’t expand fast enough and you risk being left behind in an already crowded market. Business expansion problems can easily kill a promising SME.
However, there are ways to avoid such business challenges. Regularly update your business plan. Monitor your cash flow so you know when you have extra cash or experience shortages. Track transactions using a customer relationship management system (CRM) like InfusionSoft or SalesForce.
Grow your business by diversifying – add new products and services, and try to target different demographics. Attract customers with special offers and upgrades. Identify new opportunities by better understanding your customer demographics. Reinvent and innovate when the time feels right. Research your competition and look at what strategies they use – if it works for them, it might just work for you in solving business problems.
5. Maintaining customer loyalty
Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Without them, it’s impossible to generate any revenue. While you might receive the occasional complaint, negative feedback could end up damaging your business, as well as lead to a host of other business problems. So give your customers – both old and new – an experience they will remember. If you do get negative feedback from customers, learn How to Handle Negative Reviews.
Build customer loyalty by staying connected through social media and try to create interesting content. If your business has a digital component, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and learn what common words and phrases your potential customers like to us when searching for your products or services. Plan campaigns in advance and respond to user comments.
Your brand is the face of your business. Develop a brand personality by understanding your customers and researching your competitors. Define your brand story: What does your business believe in? What can it offer? Where do you see it going? When building your brand assets (logo, typography, colour palettes, etc.), remember the three Cs: Clarity, Consistency and Commitment. Be clear in your message, inspire confidence and give your brand enough time to grow.
Also make sure your existing customers feel valued through the entire customer experience – create a satisfaction survey or conduct market research to gain insights into what they like and what could be improved upon, then apply this to future products and services. Finally, know when to abandon a failing marketing strategy – recognise your mistakes and divert your resources elsewhere to avoid business problems.
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