We love talking about the highlights of running a small business: the high-ticket sales, the big months, the freedom. But what about the lows? There are certain problems small businesses face on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis.
But don't panic! Problem solving is part of entrepreneurship. Let's address some of the most common challenges small businesses face and create systems for avoiding them.
4 Challenges Small Businesses Face
1. Finding Customers
This seems to be the biggest challenges small businesses face. Whether you're just starting out or facing a lull in sales, feeling like you need more customers can be stressful.
The goal for any business owner is dream clients, clients who you feel totally aligned with and genuinely enjoy helping. To land those clients, you have to put yourself in front of them! Here's how:
Define your ideal client. Create a clear picture of who they are, what they're into, and what they need help with. The better you know your ideal client, the easier it will be to market to them.
Find them! Go out, do some snooping, and find your ideal client. Do they spend most of their time on Facebook or Instagram? Do they prefer blog posts or podcasts? Are they a luxury crowd or will they be searching coupon sites? Wherever they are, market there!
Connect with them. Show up in your ideal client's space and provide real, valuable solutions to their problems. That's how you create raving fans.
If you're lucky, those dream clients will tell their friends about you, meaning even more dream clients come your way. What's not to love?
2. Hiring the Right People
Hiring people onto your team is scary, especially if you've been flying solo for a while. You've worked really hard creating an offer you're proud of. It's takes guts to hand that project over to someone new, but the truth is hiring is necessary to scale.
Finding and training a new team member is timely (and expensive). Turnover is even more expensive. That's why it's important to vet your new hire from the start.
Take these things into consideration when looking for the right match:
Figure out what you need help with. Your new team member can't deliver if they don't have a clear idea of what you need from them.
Decide what kind of person you're looking for. What are their talents? What's their work style? Do you want a second set of hands or someone who's your total opposite? Your new hire's skill level is important, but so is their personality.
Get them excited about you and your brand. Just like you want to attract the right customers, you also want to attract the right applicants. When your application process is streamlined and honest, you'll find you get more applications from people who really want your job opening, not just any job opening.
Remember: Don't rush the hiring process. It's much better to put the effort in to find the right person the first time around than it is to have to replace the wrong person.
3. Creating Sustainable Systems
As an entrepreneur, you wear a lot of hats. Managing everything might be easy in the beginning, but it gets more difficult the more you grow. Those to-do lists you've been writing in your head aren't going to cut it. You have to create strong systems and workflows in order to grow efficiently and effectively without dropping the ball.
If you're a brand new business or just creating systems for the first time, here's where to start:
Consult your team. They'll know best where the areas of weakness are in your business. Ask what they'd like help with, what they would like to streamline, and what's going well. Create ways for them to provide honest feedback.
Automate, automate, automate. Your time is money. Take stock of everything you do in a day - sending invoices, replying to emails, scheduling meetings - and automate everything you can. It'll save you time, energy, and a lot of headaches. Plus, you'll be more likely to miss these small tasks if they're happening in the background.
Turn any task you repeat into an SOP. An SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) is basically a step-by-step guide for completing a task in your business. Whatever you do often (like onboarding new clients, asking for testimonials, or conducting market research) should have its own SOP. It'll keep you on track and make it easier to hire help for that task down the line.
Great systems keep your business running smoothly and your stress levels down. They're a must.
4. Financial Planning
Oof. This is the big one. No one is born knowing how to manage their money, and most of us never receive a proper financial education. (Thanks for nothing, high school!) It's up to us to seek out our own resources.
As a business owner, it's even more important to get a handle on your finances. Too often, we get excited about the big picture and forget to pay attention to the smaller details. That big business upgrade you've been dreaming of? You need to budget for that. The trip you're planning for next year? That should be reflected in your financial forecast. Unless you put your big dreams down on paper, they'll always be dreams, not plans.
Here are some simple tips for gaining an understanding of your business finances:
Start with what you have. What revenue are you currently bringing in? How much are your monthly expenses? What subscriptions are you signed up for? Make sure you have a clear idea of the now before you start forecasting.
Next, consider what's coming up. What revenue do you expect in the coming months? Do you have any big projects coming up? Will you need to take on any new expenses for those projects? Are you launching any new products or courses? Be realistic about your projected revenue and expenses so you can plan properly.
Start messy and adjust as you go! Nobody's perfect. Your financial systems may be messy for a while, especially if you're DIY-ing everything. That's okay! It's better to start messy and clean it up as you grow than to wait until things have gotten out of control.
More than anything, don't be afraid to ask for help! Reach out to a trusted accountant or financial advisor. They'll be able to walk you through your finances and plan for future months.
Facing challenges in your small business?
We've all been there. Whatever you're struggling with, I'm here for you! Let's hop on a strategy session, chat about your business goals (and issues), and create a plan for getting your finances where they need to be.
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