Every successful business has a distinctive personality and a winning brand voice that sings sweetly to attract buyers. Finding that voice and being prepared for small business challenges can make overcoming them a certainty.
So, before you take the next step, let us offer tips and solutions for challenges you’ve contemplated and some you may have overlooked.
This guide will explain how to meet and beat ten business challenges:
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Top Ten Small Business Challenges and Cutting-Edge Solutions
Forewarned is forearmed. Yes, it’s a cheap sentiment, but if there was an optimal time to be aware of what’s heading your way, it’s when you’ve got a precious cargo of eggs in your new venture basket.
No matter where your journey leads, there’s nothing like knowing what’s likely to happen soon. Learn about your industry, follow the leader’s best attributes, and avoid the plodders and middle-of-the-road wannabes.
Don’t worry about setting your goals too high; worry about setting them too low!
Challenge #1 – Designing a Business Plan
Your goals are nothing but hot air and dreams without a plan. Our small business challenges are essential, but they’re all secondary to designing a sound business plan.
Even if you’re the only one who’s going to read a business plan, be honest, realistic, and as practical as possible. What’s a week or two of planning when your business could last a lifetime?
Business Plan Essentials
- Prove your business idea is financially viable – financial projections, costs, competition
- Set time-frame goals – finances, talent, production, inventory, marketing, sales
- Secure investments – personal, investors, SBA, CDFI, backup resources
- Startup team-building – management, training, partnerships
- Long-term vision – startup to market expansion, staying ahead of competitors, growth
It may not be necessary to drag on for 200 pages, but planning equals preparation.
Challenge #2 – Managing Startup Costs and Financial Plans
Capital and cash flow are critical, but a business venture with shaky financials is likely to crumble – fast.
Surprisingly, too many sales can sink a small business. That’s because the cost of capital expenditures for buying raw materials, even with a purchase order in hand, can wreck a weak business plan.
So can the need to hire and train additional staff to manage those back-ordered products.
If necessary, go over your expected startup costs with an expert–paid consultant and know exactly where your investments are coming from.
You may have personal money and angel investors or partners, but don’t forget about Small Business Loans.
As a new business community member, you should also explore available grants and CDFI funds that can put cash in your account and keep your company up and running.
Challenge #3 – Following a Business Strategy
Your optimal business strategy must be described in your business plan. Your emphasis should be on manufacturing, acquiring, or retaining buyers for digital assets.
The next step is growing those sales to make a sustainable and scalable profit. There’s no sense in squeaking by with minimal income. If you can’t prosper, you’ve invested poorly.
Are you trying to mass-produce and sell an inexpensive product, or are you differentiating yourself from other sellers by offering a higher-quality, higher-priced item?
Those options demand different marketing, tooling, and perhaps hiring plans. Follow your original strategy until you’ve proven that changes can be made for the overall good of your company, employees, and investors.
Challenge #4 – Attracting and Retaining Talented Employees
Selling quality products that employees respect helps attract and retain workers. Working conditions, pay scale, and business performance are also critical.
Once you’ve attracted talented employees, what about retaining them? The right corporate culture goes a long way, with pay and working conditions almost always at the top of the list, but there’s more.
According to a current Pew Research Center report, workers left their jobs because they felt disrespected. In 2015, The Business Journal listed another top reason for leaving: employees didn’t feel necessary. Similarly, a report from Leader Chat in 2012 stated that employees often felt their supervisors didn’t respect them.
You can retain employees, especially when respecting and making them feel needed. Allow them to make some decisions, admire their work when done well, and allow them to grow with your organization.
Challenge #5 – Marketing and Lead Generation
A business can’t exist without robust marketing and lead conversion; whether you sell houses or lemonade, you need buyers. How you attract them is through marketing and lead generation.
Experienced marketing consultants or in-house specialists will raise your leads, converting those leads as long as you’ve got quality products at the right price. So what’s your strategy?
Marketing Strategy Elements
- Build brand awareness – including investors, employees, and customers
- Differentiate from the competition – why your product is the right choice
- Understand customer base – produce and sell with your customer in mind
- Create repeat buyers – using quality, discounts, loyalty
- Adjust marketing budget – reassess your budget regularly
- Understand competitors – what they have done right and wrong
Your marketing strategy should initially be addressed in your business plan, but upgrading and revising are never-ending.
Challenge #6 – Building Brand Awareness
Building brand awareness doesn’t come overnight. Whether you are more service-oriented and off-line or generate leads strictly through digital marketing, customers choose you or a competitor based on what they know about your products and your company.
Either way you go, excellent customer service and cultivating a good reputation are critical to your success. Brand awareness generates trust and brings repeat buyers.
Drive your social media towards interacting with readers and potential buyers instead of immediately going for the sale, and you’ll find a world of buyers ready to purchase your products.
If you politicize your business or your products, you’ll find some loyal buyers while losing just as many at the same time.
It’s your company, and you don’t have to be silent or apolitical, but there’s always a cost. Talk about quality, business, and integrity, and you’ll do great.
Challenge #7 – Maintaining Optimal Company Culture
Company culture is what management infuses into the work atmosphere. If you’re driving great production with mandatory overtime, your workers will get burned out and resentful. Replacing workers is more costly than retaining them.
Respect your employees, keep them informed of upcoming changes, and reward them with good benefits, income, and recognition. Such a culture will always benefit the bottom line.
Challenge #8 – Managing Inventory
Planning and understanding buying phases and order seasons must be three steps ahead of the inventory curve.
Right now, supply chain issues have a significant impact on business. Increase your inventory when supplies are available with an eye towards quantity discounts for raw materials.
Optimize sales channels that are working while addressing those that are lagging. Diversification can reduce pressure on businesses with small product lines.
As the workforce contracts, automation can be the way to go. Use surveys and AI to generate new ideas and input from your customers by capturing them at your website interfaces.
Challenge #9 – Balancing Quality and Growth
Never compromise quality to increase profits or production. Growth comes with brand awareness and retaining both quality buyers and quality employees. Lose any part of the equation; growth may sink your best efforts.
It may take partnering with a similar or symbiotic partner to grow and maintain your desired quality. Don’t be afraid to engage quality control and efficiency experts to give you ideas to consider before taking the next step.
Challenge #10 – Honestly Evaluating Goals and Achievements
No matter how hard you’ve tried to make your business perfect, there are going to be things that go sideways. You must be honest and objective about your achievements before moving forward with new products, more aggressive hiring, or changing your marketing strategy.
Again, this is a good chance to inquire in-house. If you let your employees offer a never-ending supply of ideas (some crazy, but most sensible). Offer rewards for great ideas – it’s a win-win!
Then, adjust your goals to reflect what’s attainable in the current business environment and make new plans. Your business is like a boat at sea.
If you’re anchored to the dock, you can’t reach your potential, and when you’re in heavy waves, you’ve got to respond to the outside pressures.
Be sensible, optimistic, and realistic, and your company will flourish.
The Wrap for Small Business Challenges
Planning and running a business is full of excitement and challenge. If you follow our expert advice for small business challenges, you’ll always be a step ahead of the curve.
We’ve discussed your business plan and strategy, finding and retaining employees, and putting them to work on your best products to market and make sales.
With that information, you’ll be able to balance your marketing sales and growth. Just make sure you know the critical difference between business revenue and profit. You always need sales, but they must contribute to your bottom line!