As small business owners, we all go through challenges. We get stuck, we face big hurdles and we feel like there’s no way around over or through them. Even though it might feel like you’re all alone, you’re not the first one to encounter these obstacles.
You can’t move forward while you’re stuck in neutral, so this blog is designed to get your small business out of the pits and back into the fast lane. We’re going to acknowledge the common small business challenges, but we won’t dwell on them. Let’s focus on solutions.
1. Financing Hurdles
When the costs of production, marketing and delivery outweigh the revenue generated from new sales, small businesses face the prospect of having to close down.
One way to address financial issues is to review and rewrite the business plan. If the current plan isn’t working out, it may be time for some changes. Make some adjustments, move some pieces around and see if there’s a better fit.
You may want to secure loans or grants specifically designed to help give existing companies a boost. If debt is the problem, you could also explore the possibility of refinancing it. Do a web search to see if a local organization offers assistance. Attendance at a training seminar may be required and is totally worth your time, so pay attention. Don’t just go to check off the box to get the money.
If you know you have a fantastic business idea, you may be able to convince venture capitalists and angel investors to provide some funds. In Las Vegas, there’s a group called AngelNV that seeks to match investors with entrepreneurs. They even offer boot camps so you can learn how to make a successful pitch.
If money matters are just way over your head, perhaps it’s time to buckle down and bone up. Free financial education might be the solution you need. The Small Business Association’s website has a great learning center with content that will teach you how to manage your finances.
2. Inadequate Management
Maybe you know everything there is to know about creating and selling a viable product or service but lack managerial qualities and struggle seeing the big picture. These could lead you to mismanage critical aspects of your business and your lack of business know-how could be dragging you down or holding you back.
Have a slice of humble pie. Admit that you have some flaws and need some assistance, then go out and find yourself a good business manager. My business manager is an invaluable piece of my organization. She runs meetings, keeps things humming, figures out how to turn my ideas into a reality and isn’t afraid to say “no” when I need to hear it.
Working with a business coach might also be a good option. Business coaches can steer you in the right direction, offer advice, show you examples of success they’ve encountered in the past and act as an important sounding board.
A business coach can offer an unbiased viewpoint and provide constructive criticism when you’re ready to listen. They are full of thoughtful recommendations and can help you maximize your skills for the betterment of your business.
From a strategic standpoint, they can help you get back on track with your business plan and make sure that you’re accountable and motivated.
3. Ineffective Business Planning
Small business owners often overlook the importance of effective business planning. Failing to have a clear description of the business, market opportunities and threats, budgets, marketing initiatives or competitor analysis can lead to insurmountable obstacles, now and in the future.
There are many pieces that go into a business plan, and if any one of them is insufficient, it could throw the whole thing out of whack. If you don’t have a proper business plan, it’s time to write one.
Don’t think of it as a weekend chore; think of it as a long term to-do list that will actually get your business functioning the way you want it to, and keep it that way. Your business plan is an essential tool throughout the life of your business — from starting out to cashing in.
Do some research. Actual examples of business plans can be studied in business books found at bookstores and libraries, especially the business libraries of local colleges. The Library of Congress has a nice reading list of business planning research guides. Finding a few of the titles at your local library or bookstore would be a good place to start.
Another good plan for ironing out your business plan is to meet with a mentor. Talking to someone with hands-on experience could be a lifesaver.
I suggest looking into your local chapter of the Service Corps Of Retired Executives. SCORE is a nonprofit group with more than 11,000 working and retired executives and business owners who donate their time and expertise as business counselors.
They provide free and confidential business advice, counseling and workshops for both start-up and in-business entrepreneurs. They know what they are doing and are glad to help.
Their simple find-a-mentor tool can pair you with a mentoring match based on location, but don’t worry — if there isn’t the expert you need nearby, they offer Zoom meetings as well!
4. Marketing Mishaps
Failing to prepare for the marketing needs or underestimating the total cost of early marketing campaigns can be a major misstep, because marketing is a crucial aspect of any early-stage business.
Once again, knowledge is power. The first thing you’ll need to do is identify where your company’s marketing went wrong and take corrective action. The problem likely lies in one of three places: target markets, pricing and how you promote your product.
Have you chosen target markets that you can’t easily access? Your target markets must be accessible at a reasonable cost, and its members have to be interested in your product.
Your company may have selected target markets that don’t match the product. For example, you’ll have trouble selling a high-value brand in a low-income market or a product aimed at families in a market mostly made up of singles. The fix is simple — select more appropriate target markets for your product.
The price of your product depends on your costs and what your market studies indicate. Establish a target price in line with what the members of your target market can afford and competitor prices.
Then control your costs to ensure a profit. Reviewing your pricing and cutting your costs will help solve this piece of your marketing puzzle.
Your promotional strategy has two components: using a method of communication your audience uses to receive marketing often (if your ideal audience is on Instagram then you have to use Instagram) and delivering a message that appeals to them. If they aren’t connecting or responding to it, then change the message itself.
Finding The Fast Track
The road to success is long and winding but each mile down the highway is valuable; we can learn from our mistakes as much as our successes — sometimes more, in fact.
It can be frustrating when you encounter the pot holes, detours and freight trains in your way. But, by educating yourself and by seeking help, you’ll be back in high gear in no time.
If your small business could use some new branding photography, reach out to me and my team. We provide galleries and guidance for using them successfully, so your small business can thrive.
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