Running a small business can be rewarding and fulfilling. It can also be a huge challenge, requiring you to think on the fly, make daily decisions and keep up with your industry. The hardest things about running a business are often the things that we don’t think of immediately. Understanding what challenges you may face and devising a plan to meet these challenges is key to smoothly running your business.
Finding Your People
By far and large the hardest part of running a small business is managing people. Hiring the right person for the job means understanding the job yourself and being able to source the right candidate the first time. The hiring process can be time consuming, requiring hours of searching, responding to inquiries and interviewing candidates. Posting your job on job boards, hiring headhunters and placing ads in newspapers can be costly. This is why it is good to make the right choice the first time.
Retaining Your People
When you find the right candidate, you run the risk that other companies will see your employee’s work and try to convince them to quit your business and work for theirs. This is inevitable in business, so the key is creating an environment that makes it likely your employees will stay. Talk to them about their needs in the workplace. For some employees, money motivates them most. For others, flexibility is paramount. Still others want their voices heard and the ability to give their input into how the business is run. The key is understanding your employees well and giving them incentives to stay.
Money is at the heart of your business, so it’s no surprise that it can pose significant challenges when it comes to running your company. Whether it is figuring out how to price your goods or services, deciding on compensation for your staff or managing your cash flow, understanding your company’s finances is a full-time job. The key to getting on top of your finances is to devise a system that you can use repeatedly. This system will allow you to streamline your processing, train others to take over if necessary and easily find errors and make adjustments.
Collecting Money Owed
One of the major headaches that small business owners face is collecting overdue accounts. It can be time consuming to chase down clients to collect payment. It can also put a strain on your professional relationships. One of the best ways to avoid this is to collect fees upfront for services rendered. If this is not possible, you can always hire a collection company to call on all of your past due accounts.
One of the things that makes some small businesses so successful is their ability to provide one on one service or a product that is handcrafted. Business owners often have to sacrifice this personal touch in order to grow and expand. The key to successful growth is to understand your customer. Do they buy from you because you provide the personal touch? Will growing too large cause you to lose customers? The problem is that providing the personal touch often means restricting growth, while growth can means sacrificing quality. The key is to find the right balance that benefits your business.
Understanding your competitor will go a long way in planning for your company’s growth. Study the market to see what they did and figure out whether it will work for you. Did they attempt to introduce a new target market and alienate their loyal fan base? Did they add in too many employees too soon and suffer financially? Did they over-promise and under-deliver? Did their growth mean success for their firm? It pays to make a plan and identify any strengths, weaknesses, opportunities or threats before planning to grow your company.
Computer and Data Security
There are many threats to small companies, from competitors to employees and technology failures. One of the best ways to protect your company is to get a good computer security system that provides data backup and protection from viruses, malware and other threats. Being the victim of a hacking attack can be a disaster for your company’s data and reputation, so it is essential that you take the right steps to ensure that your work is protected.
Some threats are not as obvious or easy to spot. Sadly, many small businesses lose money each year when their employees cost them profits. Employees may sell your trade secrets to your competitors, steal your work products or skim money from your business. It pays to invest in the right technology to make sure your company isn’t victimized by rouge employees. Consider having them sign contracts and non-disclosure agreements to protect yourself.
It is also a good idea to have an online reputation management firm on retainer in case you need to boost or clean up your company’s reputation online. A disgruntled ex-employee or a malicious customer can undo years of your hard work with a few negative reviews of your company. By using an ORM firm, you can monitor your mentions online and take swift action should problems arise.
Personal Life Issues
In the beginning stages of startup, you may have to work long hours to get your business off the ground. Many new owners struggle to find a balance between work and life. Some business owners work a full time job while running their new business in their off hours. Still others have to take on every role, employing creative tactics to keep the business afloat. The key is to find a way to still devote time to yourself and your family while still running your company.
Make the most of your time by working around the margins of your time. This may mean getting up earlier while your family is still asleep or working long after everyone has gone to bed. Eventually, you will have enough working capital so that you can delegate tasks and hire someone to help with the workload, taking some of the strain from you. Take breaks and re-charge when necessary.
The Best Parts About Running Your Own Business
Despite the challenges of running a business, many owners find great satisfaction in launching their companies. Running a small company can give you a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Some become profitable early on, allowing you to reap the benefits of your labor sooner. The key to being able to enjoy your company is to develop systems and processes that allow you to automate your workflow and delegate tasks to other people. Managing your operations and delegating tasks will allow you more time to breathe and focus on growing your company.
It’s important not to compare your company’s growth to others. While you will want to study the competition and find out what they are doing right (and wrong), it can be counter productive to constantly measure your success using someone else’s barometer. Make a plan and adjust it as necessary and tailor it to your company’s needs.
Running a business can be a life changing experience. It can also be a colossal challenge. Between managing money, people and time, it can be daunting to start a new company from the ground up. By understanding your strengths and weaknesses, delegating tasks and planning for your company’s growth, you can enjoy a successful start to your new venture.