No small business is immune to everyday challenges. Entrepreneurs who think everything will go smoothly usually hit roadblocks and bumps the hardest. It is better to be prepared that challenges will come and have some solid strategies in place to tackle them head on. Only half of small businesses survive past five years. To ensure the success and longevity of your business, the first step is knowing what it is you are facing. The second step is knowing you can conquer it with the right processes in place. Give these five strategies a try when you find your business hitting some roadblocks.
Build a Solid Team
Small business owners are only as good as their employees. When a team is thriving and putting out good products and services, the company benefits. People are essential to the success of any business, no matter the market. Limited resources can be a challenge to getting top talent, but that should not stop you from looking to hire a few good men and women to get the job done right.
Solution: look for people who are going to show up everyday with passion. Their skillset may be impressive but if they are not passionate and hungry to push the bottom line, they may burn out and eventually leave. Hiring policies and strategies need to be tight to ensure the best people for your money are showing up every day. Other ways to build a thriving team include:
- Creating a solid strategy to onboard an employee who fills gaps in your knowledgebase. Not everyone has the same skills, which is what makes good businesses great.
- Take time prospecting. Time is money, so don’t waste it by filling positions quickly. It is always better to put on the breaks than put the wrong person in the driver’s seat.
- Seek balance in the process. There is temptation to want to control everything in business. It is important to divide up tasks to avoid burnout. Delegate responsibilities and hire people who will handle them without being micro managed. Outsourced support, freelancers, and others can help bridge gaps while searching or may become a great long-term solution to difficult challenges of finding the right person.
Know Your Identity
Branding is critical to business success in today’s marketplace. A strong brand identity helps position your business in the world. Marketing is an essential part of this process, which means getting the right people on board to build a brand people can get behind. Before even developing a product or service, consider marketing it to define the brand. Without marketing experience, a small business can find this process daunting.
Solution: know what it is you need and go after it. Don’t wait until you get your business stuck in a mess. Know how to identify the issue with branding and set yourself up for success by trying these strategies:
- Get real feedback. It is easy to make assumptions about a target demographic based on market and competitive research. Conduct tests and try them out on family and friends. Test the product or service on them to see what they think before launching.
- Know the niche. Consider your target demographic, what sets your work apart from others, and how to put that into words that create a brand position.
- Get online. Don’t be afraid of online marketing. This is a powerful, relevant, tool that supports small businesses with lots of free accounts available. These tools allow you to choose audiences, demographics, and optimize them for delivery of your products and services. Free website builders exist or, better yet, hire a consultant to develop a good website which is low maintenance but provides an online presence for consumers.
One of the biggest challenges for a small business is understanding cash flow. Running into a problem with money can derail any business. Daily operations need to be run on top of tracking expenses, employee payroll, and revenue streams. Without an accounting or finance background, it can be overwhelming to stay on top of financial obligations.
Solution: Keeping cash flow going and revenue streams growing, it is important to have some strategies in place. Check out these tools to help you crunch numbers and stay on top of finances:
- Get the right software. Online accounting software is user-friendly to track revenue, cash flow, run reports, create invoices, and much more.
- Hire an expert. Relying on an actual human being to track money coming in and out can be a great relief to small businesses. Hire an accountant or an outside consultant. They will help save you money in the long run and keep the business running smoothly.
Don’t (Unknowingly) Break Rules
Being your own boss is tough. You are not exempt from government regulations, which include many things like licensing, permits, employment laws, payroll taxes, and much more. Unknowingly breaking one of these can bring your entire business down.
Solution: the best way to keep your head above water is to know the rules and keep up-to-date with any changes. Some great strategies to keep legally compliant include:
- Hiring an attorney. Most small businesses don’t need an in-house lawyer. Having a good one on speed dial is a good idea to help navigate legal issues.
- Get tax software. Even if you file your own taxes, it can be complicated with a small business. Get good software online or find someone to help you pull all the numbers together and maximize deductions.
Growth is a huge buzzword right now for small businesses. When asked about goals, most owners would say they want to grow in some shape or form. Scaling is rarely easy or without setbacks. The challenge is not scaling too big, too fast, without taking time to address roadblocks and logistics along the way. This could manifest as greater sales with less profitability down the road.
Solution: slow down and don’t rush expansion. Growth takes time. Some of the following pointers can give you some good strategies for how to focus on growth without overdoing it:
- Keep trimming. It can be difficult to see weaknesses of your current operation. Take stock of ongoing challenges, overspending, and other issues before they get out of hand.
- Focus on structure. Before you scale, look to refine the infrastructure in place. Get honest feedback from employees and look for insights from the people inside the business on how to grow. It will help to learn certain processes that can be done away with to optimize efficiency and scale effectively.
Starting your own business can be exhilarating and rewarding. The journey will not be easy, but you can avoid some pitfalls by having some strategies and tools in your back pocket. It might take some exploration do get it right, but it can also save you money and push your company to grow in new and innovative ways by having the right strategy.