Small business owners face a multitude of challenges as they seek to grow their ventures.
From raising brand awareness to finding customers to hiring talented people, starting a successful small business is no easy feat.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20% of businesses fail within their first year. About half have gone under by year five and nearly 80% have failed by the tenth year.
Don’t let those figures become too daunting. Here’s a loop at the top challenges facing small business owners and how to overcome them.
One of the biggest challenges facing small business owners is having a coherent, overarching strategy to guide decision-making.
You want to strike a balance between risky and safe ventures as well as maintaining quality and client satisfaction as you scale up.
Tailor your plan to your business’ specific needs. You want to grow but you should only be taking calculated risks.
Your business obviously needs customers to be successful but how do you find them?
You can start by figuring out who your ideal customer is, because you’re going to want to reach the right people.
Then start building content that caters to their specific needs and desires and share it on all the channels you can.
Potential customers need to know who you are, or they’ll never patronize your business so building brand awareness is a key challenge to overcome as a small business owner.
This can be a tall order when you’re just starting out.
Try to drum up interest through a public relations campaign, speaking to local media. Make sure to have an engaging story for why they should come to your business.
You can also run a high-quality blog to help build brand awareness.
Another option is to engage in some co-marketing by partnering with another business to gain new customers.
Set up an Email List
Building an email list is one of the best ways to stay top of mind for your customers. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42, according to one study.
However, there are diminishing returns unless you can freshen it up with new subscribers.
The best way to build an email list is through opt-in where customers voluntarily provide their contact info. Create engaging social media content that inspires people to give you their email address.
Do not buy an email list as this is unlikely to reach people who will become customers.
Another common problem facing many small businesses is lead generation, both in terms of quantity and quality.
One of the best ways to do this is to optimize your website for conversions by making sure your page clearly guides visitors to action. You can also use a tool that will automatically pull submissions from forms and provide you with contact info.
Identify what are your website’s most popular pages and then set up conversion tools like pop-ups, hello bars and slide-ins.
You want more than merely satisfied customers; you want delighted customers because they are more likely to make additional purchases and engage in word-of-mouth marketing.
This is easier said than done when you’re a small business but basically you want to surpass expectations and provide an unrivalled experience.
You’ll want to understand your customers’ needs and expectations and provide for their needs in a way that is unique to your specific business.
Think about how you can innovate and provide little extras that push the experience beyond the norm.
Hiring Talented People
One of the biggest challenges facing small businesses is hiring the right people. You need a team that understands your business goals and wants to work together to meet them.
Don’t rush your hiring process and keep looking for great employees, not satisfactory ones.
You should create candidate personas for your various positions, so you match personality traits with job descriptions.
Taking a little more time during the hiring process can also help you out in the long run because you’re saving the cost of multiple onboarding if you have high turnover.
Another common challenge facing small businesses is managing workflow, making sure you have processes in place so that all your employees are operating at peak efficiency. This problem can often grow more problematic as you scale it up.
Some of the ways you can manage workflow is by using employee satisfaction surveys, frequent one-on-one meetings where employees are free to speak their minds and finding commonalities in the feedback you receive.
Getting the pulse of your operations from those working directly in it will help you manage workflow.
Having the resources to scale up in an efficient manner can be a challenge for many small businesses. Prudent financial planning is the only way to deploy scarce resources in a way that will grow your enterprise.
You’ll want to carefully examine your expenses and cut costs where you can. You should manage your cashflow by staying on top of billing, invoices, and accounting.
Growing your business at a pace that is maintainable can be a challenging needle to thread. Expanding too fast can mean you make poor investment and hiring choices, ultimately setting you backwards not forwards.
You can obsess over all the aspects of your business so pick the ones that make the most sense to your business. Is it more important to perfect your product line or focus on customer satisfaction?
Choose wisely as you scale up your business.
Starting a business is no simple task. It takes hard work, perseverance, and determination.
You’ll want to stay on top of business planning and lead generation. Focus on hiring the right people the first time so you don’t have high turnover.
Make sure you are delighting customers, not just satisfying them.