What Do Small Businesses Struggle With?
Have you ever thought about starting a business? Have you ever wondered what are some of the struggles business owners face on the road to starting a business and running it?
Below are a few struggles that I have had in my own business that many other business owners go through.
1. Attracting Customers/Gaining Traction:
One of my first struggles was attracting customers. Last time I checked, they didn't teach an accounting major in college how to be a business owner. I mean in college do they ever teach that? I heard they do now but "back in my day" they did not. I had to learn how to make a customer see my worth since I was a young ambitious soul. I had to prove myself. Once you figure out what works best for you to attract customers you will then be in the stage of gaining traction. Use that traction and keep pushing. It will be hard at first but it is so worth it!
My suggestions are if you have experience make sure to provide resources/referrals to people you have worked with that know you are a hard worker. I will also suggest getting some testimonials you can show your future client.
2. Wearing Multiple “Hats”:
When you start off in business you are the sales person, the marketer, the bookkeeper, the admin, the customer service, the HR, the EVERYTHING!
As I mentioned before I was only taught in college and in internships how to do only one job in only one area. Once I started running a business I was doing just that RUNNING. I learned really quickly how to do multiple tasks at one time and found myself reading and watching videos pertaining to every aspect and role of business to become more proficient.
My suggestions are that you know you first and foremost. What I mean by that is understand what you are and are not good at as well as what you do and do not want to do for a role. Some people are meant to and have skills that they develop to be a basketball player, but some people can work hard for years but maybe being a basketball player is not the best match for them in this life. The same goes for business. Know what you are good at and are willing to do. You can hire someone to do the areas of the business you are not good at once you start having income rolling in.
4. Finding The Right Employees/Delegating:
This goes with #3. When you are ready and fed-up with wearing multiple hats, you know it's time to hire some people! When I first hiring people my struggles were I wanted to hire everyone because I thought everyone deserved a chance and I assumed people would get hired and do what needed to be done since that was what kind of worker I was. Boy was I wrong. What I learned most is not everyone is a fit, not everyone needs to work for a start-up, not everyone is a hard worker, and not everyone wants to help you grow.
Here is what I suggest, I suggest being able to say next, lay out the work that needs to be performed, check references, and have them prove they have the skills needed to help your start-up or at least be able to learn quickly. If you are hiring someone to help you then the last thing you want to do is have to do the work after you paid them to do it because they couldn't or wouldn't do it. I would also study up on anything related to working in your state so you know the laws of employment. I would also suggest getting a lawyer or someone to write the proper contracts for employment as well have an employee handbook so they know more about days off, grievance, ect. Last but most critical part, be a friend but not a friend to them. What I mean is make sure they understand you are the owner of the company and that does not mean they should do things they would not do at another company that is not acceptable in association with communication, behavior, respect for you as the owner, ect.
Here is another area that of course as an accountant no one ever taught me. This is something you will always have to do. Even right now on this day Apple is still marketing. Sure they are worth a lot of money and sure they are already a world known company but there are also many people who do not know about them or have not experienced their product. This is the same for any business. Marketing and advertising is just getting the word out there to the customers that might not have seen, heard, or experience what you have to offer to help them.
My suggestions are to first look at what other similar companies to yours are doing to "get out there" and reach people. I would also suggest to keep your brand YOU and not copy what someone else does but just use the "other guys" as a research project to understand how they market/advertise. Another suggestion is again hire someone who knows how to do this for you if you are not familiar with "getting out there."
One last suggestion is get out there and network and tell people about you and what you have to offer.
As an accountant this is a no brainer to me. However, to most people even the ones who think they understand budgets, forecasts, A/P, A/R, loans, ect. actually do not understand as much as they think.
I will say this you must keep up with everything going out at first starting a business called "start-up costs," everything coming in (revenue), and expenses going out. The IRS is only a step away and I have seen companies go down (even big firms) because they were not keeping up. Most people who start a business concentrate on marketing and sales and forget to account for all the transactions it takes to to run a business until you get a knock on your door or a call as a nice reminder you owe taxes, you did not file, or you did not claim. This is why I suggest you hire an accountant early on to help you or at least guide you. It will save you so much time and pressure in the end.
On another note, if you are doing forecasting and budgeting this will help you grow your business. You need to allocate income to different categories. Some examples are: taxes, staffing, materials, bills, software, personal pocket, ect. Most people receive money and think they should just take it all for personal use. I mean do not get me wrong, you're spending your time working so you got to pay bills. I get it but putting off things that need to be paid does not mean you per say. You should always allocate a portion for you and then the rest back into the company to make it run. That's why big companies have a budget. As far as forecasting, this is something that usually cannot be done until at least a few quarters to a year has passed. This way you understand your business so you can predict it a little better. It is better to be safe then sorry.
Here is what I suggest, do some research on similar businesses to yours. Even call them up and ask if you can sit down with a key person and talk about their business. You will be surprised how many other businesses will let you know their good months, budgets, their experiences, ect. Use that for your own predictions/budgets in your business.
6. Sales/Saying No:
Sometimes it's hard to say no to hiring an employee or saying no to bringing on a new client. As a business owner you think I need more workers so I can have more leveraged time and you also think I need more clients so I can have more money. This is true, but as I mentioned a couple of times. Sometimes not everyone is a fit for what you have to offer. Even some of the biggest brands in the world will turn down customers. I am a firm believer that if we are offering a product or service we shouldn't take the "old-school" sales approach but more the approach to having a solution they need. Think does the product or service I am providing help the client even if they don't understand it yet or do they have no need for it and I just need money. This will save a lot on returns, reputation, branding, referrals, ect. in the end.
My suggestions are that you know exactly what you do, who your clients are, culture you bring, so you can start with establishing yourself,
On the other side of saying no to someone for your business someone might say "no" to you for you to help them. Just like not everyone is a fit for you, you are not a fit for everyone.
One of the biggest struggles that people have when getting into business is that they can't handle the EMOTION RIDE. Every business goes through this and it will not ever be a smoother ride. The last thing you want to do is be so happy you opened your business and you are telling everyone and them BOOM you get a no! and run off into the corner and cry and think "you are not meant to be a business owner". As Aaliyah would say "dust yourself off and try again." If you are getting a "no" then you are closer to reaching your goals then you thought. A "no" means simply not right now and that you are developing your skills and mental state. Companies go through ups and downs in business. That's reality.
I was lucky enough that I was a bartender and server for years while in college and starting my firm that I got very use to the emotional ride. I learned very fast how to move on and not dwell on rejection.
Another example I can give you for a real life ordinary example is dating. In life when a guy asks out a girl, not every girl will say "yes" and he might have to prove himself as worthy. One thing I know is that eventually if he did get a "no" he would just ask the next attractive girl. No worries. The same applies in business. Just say "next."
Here is what I suggest, TALK TO MORE PEOPLE! It is that simple. I will also suggest to throw on some hype music before you make a move if you are scared and then throw on some heavy metal if you get a "no" so you can rage out. That's what I do anyways. Do what you know is best for you but don't give up because you started something for a reason not an excuse. So turn your excuses into your reasons to do better.
Remember this if nothing else. One person always has told me, "If you aren't where you want to be all you need is more people in the pipeline." So just go out and talk to more people.
9. Being Open to Change:
This for me was one of the hardest struggles also. I have the personality where I will do whatever to accomplish whatever it is I set my mind to but letting someone tell me I can do it another way was so hard for me. Obviously by now you have learned I was not taught in any company I worked for or in college how to run a business. I had to figure it all out and find resources to help guide me through research and comparison. The fist time I had someone tell me "maybe we should do it this way" I was thinking "no and how would you know if you don't run a business." That person couldn't have helped me understand how I needed to open up to change more. They were thinking outside the box just like I do. I just didn't realize maybe they were on to something because of my own pride. Sometimes you just have to let down your pride and listen to what others might suggest. The second time someone told me I needed to just listen to them I figured out I needed to be coachable since they had more experience in the area we were talking about.
My suggestion is to just to hear people out and be coachable. Let down your pride and know that if it was not a big deal then you would not have even be in the place and time to have to listen to anyone.