My father, a small businessperson himself, said, “If you own your own business you deserve it.” To this day, I’m uncertain what he meant. How things were going defined his quote. Someday’s he was a damn fool and others he was a small business genius. The business climate in America has changed since my father’s time, but many of the challenges he faced 40 years ago continue to face small businesses today.
Small Business Challenges
10. Too many eggs in one basket – It’s great to have a big customer, someone you can rely on and plan ahead with; until they’re no longer your customer. Keep that big customer happy but never stop looking for others. Are all your eggs in one basket?
9. Paperwork – Keeping track, state and federal laws and regulations can be overwhelming. Hire help. Seek out an attorney. You can’t be an expert in all things. However, for some things you can save time and money by working with online services.
8. Pricing – How many small businesses have failed because they didn’t understand their overhead? And how many have failed because they priced their product or service out of the market? Know your overhead and what the market will bear.
7. Money, Money, Money, MONEY – If you don’t have cash flow you’re sunk. Account for every penny, establish a line of credit, plan ahead, and if you’re not an accountant—retain one. SBA – Projecting your business cash flow made simple
6. Leading a team – Great designers, web developers, or craftspeople don’t necessarily make great leaders. It’s a skill set. Here’s help. The New Manager’s Workbook – A crash course in effective management
5. Marketing – Where to start? Do you begin with Social media, Web design, Broadcast Advertising, Print collateral, or vehicle graphics? Should you try to do-it-yourself or outsource? Keeping up with the marketing demands of a small business.
4. Not enough hours in the day – If your business is to grow they’ll come a time where you cannot do it all. Trying to do it all limits growth and it ain’t too good for your mental health. You should budget a minimum of 1/4th of your time to work on your business. Are you working in or on your business?
3. Staying ahead of change – We’ve all seen shops closed and read stories of businesses large and small that didn’t keep up with change. Lessons from three big business failures.
2. Not asking for help – It’s OK not to know everything, and it’s OK to feel overwhelmed; both mean you’re pushing the limits. Join an association of like-minded business owners, seek out a mentor, and ask for help. Why small business owners need mentors.
And the number one answer is…Drum roll, please… Burnout. On paper, the idea of being your own boss, making your own way, and being your own person, looks honorable. And it is, but it’s more work than most people imagine. It’s not only putting in the hours—it’s the pressure. It’s waking at 2 am wondering how you’ll meet payroll, finish the order, or find someone to buy your product. That’s why it’s important to disconnect and get away from your business. Take time to work out, turn off your phone, meditate, and take a vacation. If you don’t think you can, then you’re allowing your business to run you. I once had a crew blow the engine on a truck because they hadn’t taken time for maintenance. When asked why, they said they were too busy. Don’t blow your engine.