Starting a new business can be the most exhilarating time of an entrepreneur’s life. Of course, not everything about the experience is a heady adventure. Owning a business is a daunting challenge. There are often severe shortages of money and/or time, problems hiring and keeping top talent, a poor internet presence, trouble maintaining quality while striving to grow, and so on. Such issues can threaten the success of the enterprise. Below are some common major problems for small business owners and ideas for avoiding or reducing the impact of these on your goals.
5 Serious Problems Facing Many Small Business Owners
Potentially ruinous problems like poor leadership, unreliable workers, low cash flow, and others can cause new businesses to stall or decline beyond salvageability. To maintain progress and build a thriving, sustainable company there are straightforward approaches most business owners depend upon, like creating a sound financial strategy, practical marketing, building a strong team, and outperforming the competition on quality and service. But, unexpected issues can undermine the best of plans:
1. Shortage of Funds
Insufficient cash flow can be a crushing problem for a new business owner trying to build a strong team and customer base. Larger and better-established competitors are likely to have sufficient funding to implement broad-ranging growth plans. But, in the early stages, small sweeping business startups often struggle mightily just to cover payroll and fuel expenses. If a client is late in making a payment it can lead to the collapse of the operation. Small companies often fail due to running out of funds.
If you’re having difficulty managing finances, even if you have very little income to manage, first, speak to your local SBA financial advisor. Also, gather advice from trusted, knowledgeable friends and family members. Slash business and personal expenses to the bare minimum. Seek temporary volunteer help from acquaintances, on a mutual-help basis, if necessary. Further, consider talking with local lenders about unsecured and secured personal loans to fund startup growth.
2. Shortage of Time
In a fledgling pavement sweeping company, the owner may be filling all the work roles simultaneously. In a solo business, you may be running the sweeper truck, selling services, answering phones, communicating with vendors, paying bills, performing truck maintenance and repairs, and so on. In the smallest businesses, the owners naturally have the most personal tasks to do. This leaves little time to manage critical success factors, such as quality, value-added customer service measures, and so much more. You can’t just create more time, so what can you do?
Ask for help. If the above describes your circumstance, it’s probably time to enlist some short-term temporary volunteer help, if you can get it, for a few hours per week each for a month or so. Recruit from close family, friends, interns, and any others who may be willing to help. Perhaps you can offer to help them with a later project in exchange. If this is not a realistic option, consider outsourcing some tasks to inexpensive online resources for everything from phone answering to processing bill payments, to general bookkeeping, to sales appointment setting.
3. Difficulty Hiring and Retaining Talent
With nearly half the U.S. workforce employed in small businesses, it might seem that hiring workers is easy enough to do. However, as a small business in the employer market, you may be unable to compete effectively with all that larger companies have to offer new recruits. Further, you are likely to need multi-talented people, vs. specialists with narrow, highly refined skill sets. Your ideal hire will also need the array of soft skills to help grow the team and the client base and adapt to the constant changes over the coming years.
There’s no easy way out of this difficulty. When you start looking to hire, expect a process of trying and trying again with candidates. Focus on potential instead of developed skills. People new to an industry may be likely to be more appreciative of a new opportunity to develop in a growing business and may have a stronger sense of need to prove their value. They may have lower expectations of the new organization. But, you may also find great candidates in industry veterans who prefer working for a smaller business and are enthusiastic about being a part of growing a company from the ground up.
4. Struggling to Maintain Quality During Growth
All too often just when a small business team is excited about getting a major new client, they find themselves beginning to strain to meet the client’s many needs and requirements. Workers become stretched too thin, efficiency suffers, and important details begin to fall between the cracks. It’s a rough irony that the very process of growing a business can be the problem that weakens its likelihood of lasting success.
Management must determine priorities and make tough decisions about scheduling and ensuring necessary downtime for rest to preserve productivity and morale. It can be very difficult to give customers and workers everything they all need and want from your business. Hire people with a strong track record of consistently high performance and expect maximum productivity and quality from them. But, do not undermine your team’s potential by over-promising customers what your group cannot realistically deliver consistently.
5. Insufficient Web Presence
A standard marketing program is often not feasible for new, underfunded sweeping businesses. Especially those with the classic history in the industry, in which the new business owner is still working his/her day job and running a sweeper truck all night, and knocking on property management office doors somewhere in between. Formal advertising can cost too much and word-of-mouth does not necessarily generate enough new business fast enough to get things off the ground in all markets.
The Internet offers a wealth of low- or no-cost resources for attracting new customers. So, make the most of your website. Understand what must be done to it for SEO to maximize its effectiveness for you. Further, establish a social media presence, and ask customers to place positive reviews on Yelp and elsewhere.
How to Manage Daunting Business Challenges
Running your own successful sweeping business is an exceptionally rewarding endeavor. However, you should be prepared to face the many difficult challenges that are to be expected when building a good business from zero. Before you launch your company, create a business plan that you are confident can succeed and obtain the best support you can find to help you get up and running.
Many successful sweeping business owners tell their story of brothers and sisters and spouses and friends temporarily helping with tasks during the initial months and/or during the busy season or major growth periods until their companies could hire.
When you fully establish your business and can attract more customers and talented workers, prioritize building a company culture that makes people want to stay and grow with the company. Perform an employer market analysis as well as a competitive market analysis to more fully understand your local business environment.
The U.S. small business subsector is growing at an exceptional rate. The current period is assessed by business analytics experts as an excellent time to have a small business in this country. So, perhaps you will not experience any of the above issues over the coming years. But, you should anticipate some typical difficulties and proceed with full awareness that there are still common planning and management challenges that can be hard to bypass or overcome.
Ultimately, if you find yourself struggling with any one or all of the above problems in your pavement sweeping business, identify the best solutions available to you and be assertive in reaching out for the resources you need.