Growing a business is never going to be easy – challenges will crop up from the get go. But if you’re passionate about your product, conquering these issues and watching the growth that follows is what makes starting and running your own business all worthwhile.
Here are 9 of the challenges nearly every small business will face at some point in its lifetime – and how you can conquer them. Let’s start with the challenges you’ll face at the very beginning…
1. Finding Your Niche
Making sure your business has a place in the market, and that what you’re offering is unique, is key to finding success and profitability.
Whether you consider yourself an entrepreneur or do a bit of freelance in your spare time, the first step to finding you niche is to ask yourself: what skills do I have and how can I use them to help solve other people’s problems?
If you’re not sure what kinds of problems are out there waiting to be solved, check out different keyword options using Google Ad’s keywork planner. You could even check what kinds of questions are asked on forums, such as Quora or Reddit.
The next step is to figure out what other people are already doing to help alleviate these problems – these are your competitors. Ask yourself: how can I do it better/more efficiently?
2. Getting Your Business Off the Ground
Another early hurdle you’ll have to jump is getting your business up and running. Whether you don’t have enough money or you’re not sure how to take the first step, the best way to nudge your business into the world is through marketing.
Using our startup marketing plan guide, set out the different ways you’re going to market your brand to customers. Once you’ve decided what kinds of marketing you want to use – email, print, content, social media – it’s time to decide on goals, a strategy and set your marketing budget (which, to begin with, doesn’t have to be a lot!).
If you’re opening a shop, café or restaurant, get the word out in the local area by organising a flyer drop. You can design your own flyers for free using our design online tool. You could even incentivise your flyer by offering a discount – it’s a great way of persuading people to come and try your business out. And if they like their experience, they’re likely to come again!
3. Being Overwhelmed by the Workload
If you’re going through the recruitment process for the first time, the first thing to do is to advertise the job. Make sure to include:
• A description of the job role and responsibilities
• Any previous experience that’s required
• Any qualifications required
• Any benefits to being employed by your business (e.g. holiday allowance)
You can then post the job for free in the UK using the government’s ‘Find a Job’ service.
You’ll also need to register as an employer with HMRC up to four weeks before your pay your new employee.
4. Learning to Delegate
Recruiting people to come and help manage the workload is only the first step: you’ve now got to learn to delegate jobs to your new staff.
This is hard at first, we get that. Your business has thus far been your own special project, you’ve put your blood sweat and tears into it. But you’ve hired these people because you trust them to perform and help your business succeed.
If you want something done a certain way, make sure you include clear instructions or carry out training. You might have to teach new skills, or the correct tone of voice. And – most importantly – always, always give feedback.
5. Learning to Work Smart (And Hard)
This is essentially means making the most efficient use of your time. There’s nothing worse than doing the same monotonous, lengthy routine over and over again if there’s a quicker – yet equally effective – way of getting it done. The time you’re saving could be spent on doing other really productive things for your business.
There are plenty of ways you can rethink how you use your time. Here are a few examples:
• Limit how long meetings are – try cutting hour long meetings down to 30 minutes. Sometimes you’ll just be sat trying to fill the time so it lasts the full amount of time you’ve assigned for it.
• Hire the right people – just because you’re a fantastic entrepreneur, this doesn’t mean you’re great at admin. Hire someone who’s better at admin, or at marketing, or whatever it is you want to improve about your business.
• Repurpose content – if you’re spending the time creating amazing content, like emails, infographics and presentations, there’s nothing wrong with reusing it in the future.
6. Managing Cash Flow
Don’t let managing the cash flow of your small business stress you out: there are easy ways to do this successfully.
The key is to keep your account both simple and up to date. Too complicated, and it’ll be a drag to complete. If you end up behind the books, you’re going to be overwhelmed. It’s also important to keep your business and personal finances separate, otherwise it’ll be difficult to determine your business’ performance.
If you’re not great with numbers, you can hire someone who is. Even if you’ve just fallen behind and it’s too much work for you to bring it all up to date, you can temporarily hire a freelance accountant to get your cash flow up to scratch.
7. Nurturing the Right Company Culture
It’s all well and good hiring these amazingly skilled people to come and work for your business, but a negative culture can be the making or breaking of your startup business.
A positive culture means a happy workforce, and a happy workforce means a productive one! According to a study by Deloitte, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success.
So how do you build a positive company culture? We recommend starting right at the beginning: the recruitment process. At interviews, exude the kinds of values you want your company to have – that could be professional, energetic, modern, anything! And try to hire people that also reflect these values in their answers.
For current employees, make sure to show that you appreciate them and that you take pride in their work, and so should they. You’re a role model in the workplace. Not only will rewarding positive behaviour improve job satisfaction, it’ll also boost yours and your employees’ morale.
8. Staying Ahead of the Competition
A business owner’s work is never done. Even if you reach the top, your competitors will always be trying to figure out ways dominate the market. We believe that the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to keep a close eye on your competitors.
Sign up to their email list, keep an eye on their Google rankings and make note of any major changes. This will help you keep coming up with innovative ways to keep offering a unique service so that customers choose you over them!
9. Knowing When to Change
Making changes to your business can be stressful. But sometimes, a risk is necessary to expand and grow. Like with the previous point, keeping track of your competitors is a great way to spot whether or not you need to make any changes.
When it comes to planning what changes to make, the best people to ask are your customers – or potential ones. Find out what their pain points are – what bothers them about the industry your business is in and how can you provide a solution to them?
Create a free survey using websites such as SurveyMonkey and email it out to your mailing list. If you want to encourage a lot of people to take part, you could add a special offer, like a free product or chance to win a voucher, for taking part.
We hope that we can help with any challenge your business faces. Whether you’re just starting out and need to figure out your business model or you’re falling out of love with your startup, you’ll find all the help you need on our Think Big blog.