Right now, we need small businesses to boost the sagging economy. But it’s tough going for small businesses. To see where small business owners are facing challenges, I have called on the CarolRoth.com contributor network of entrepreneurs and experts to provide what they believe are the biggest challenges that small businesses need to overcome right now and some suggested solutions. Their answers are presented below in no particular order so that you can help stack the odds of success in your favor.
You may notice some similar insights, but I kept the concepts separate, as something in the way one is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Can't Pay the Money???
The biggest problem is see for small business today is in hiring employees that can truly help your business grow. It's difficult to compete with the larger businesses for the same talent when you have such limited funds. Solution? Help them to think as a partner would. Give them a sense of 'wanting' to build and grow with you. Find more creative ways to tap into the talents you need. Research what employees want! You can't compete with money and that's a challenge no matter how you slice it.
2. Getting and Keeping Customers
I have been working with small businesses for two decades and the biggest problem they face is getting and keeping customers or clients. It's "feast or famine" daily, weekly and monthly. The only answer to this constant challenge is to create a system for getting and keeping customers for life. The solution? It's all about building a network that sustains the constant ebbs and flows of business.
3. What Money?
Even with all of the economic programs and incentives for small businesses, most don't qualify. It's difficult, especially for smaller businesses, to build up credit and provide financials worthy of securing business loans and lines of credit needed to grow. Make sure you're aware of all of the financing options, the pros/cons of each and how to qualify. Also consider, with your accountant, how you keep your books: is it to minimize tax liability or make your income more attractive to lenders?
4. Timing of Cashflow
The biggest problem is having to invest my cashflow in client projects the last couple of months that have resulted in a growth in receivables of $10K over last month. I should be celebrating, but at the moment, cash is thin preventing further investment. My solution has been to go to two of my best suppliers for credit. Now, they will make a return on giving me capital and it results in more business for them. Everyone but my bank wins. A close second is affordable health care!
5. Focus on What You Can Control
Uncertainty continues to be the major challenge facing all businesses. Not knowing the impact of current legislation creates market instability. The solution is to revisit current business plans; determine where course corrections can be made. Focus on what you can control instead of what you cannot control. Remember, more millionaires are created during uncertain and poor economic times. Success and failure start and end in the same place - Between the ears.
6. Perception is Reality
Many people would probably answer this question with "the economy". I don't think that's it at all. More millionaires are made during a recession than any other time. The problem is our own internal view of imminent defeat at the hands of a troubled economy. The truth is, business owners must make the conscious decision not to allow the economy to hold them back. It's time to unleash some creativity and reap the rewards.
7. Small Business Solution
The biggest challenge facing small business is to increase customer purchases while keeping overhead the same. The best way to do this is to really pay attention to what your customer is saying and asking for, always ask how you can do better or what can be added, and put better bundles together so the ticket price is higher and value is added, while not a whole lot of increase in overhead happens.
8. The Elephant in the Room
Health insurance- the cost of which now finally exceeds my mortgage, never mind the $5K deductible. A friend in France recently shared how much easier it is to start businesses there, with no worries about health coverage. I am extremely apolitical and don't care which party solves this, but we will unleash a firestorm of business growth and innovation when dollar $12,001 of an entrepreneur's income no longer equals dollar one of an employee's.
9. Retailers aren't Brandbuilders
We've been told flat out by big box retailers that they aren't brand builders, so it's difficult for small business to get a foot in the door. Sometimes it's better to go to individual stores and get placements locally before trying to get mass rollout from the corporate level. Also, one must ALWAYS do whatever one can to get POP info & signage to help customers understand a new product, otherwise be prepared to gather dust, no matter how good or innovative your creations. No easy road...
10. Make Friends with the Bouncer!
Remember standing in line for hours trying to get into a popular club only to be turned away by the bouncer at the door? Marketing your business on the Internet is no different. You can spend hours canvassing for friends, linking profiles, and even mastering the ad game. But if consumers do not have a sense that they can trust you, your product, or your service, they will turn you away. Your business friends guard the gates to a whole new world of consumers. What should your next move be?
Steve Gallegos of WhoYa
11. Nothing to Fear Except Fear!
In a tough economy, people tend to contract rather than expand, thinking that's the prudent way to survive. You shouldn't spend money foolishly, but running a business out of fear never works. It's seems counter intuitive, but that kind of thinking can actually tank your business. This is the time to acquire market share, come out with new and innovative products, and find unique marketing campaigns that distinguish you from your competition. Ultimately, it's a time to grow, not shrink!
12. Asking for Help
The single biggest challenge for business owners is breaking free from the mentality that says, "I have to do it all myself." I struggle with this continually. When I've asked for help, problems have cleared up in a matter of minutes that I'd struggled all day to solve. It seems almost instinctive. We just aren't inclined to ask for help until we have exhausted all other options. Personally, I know that I resist asking for help because I'm afraid of wasting people's time.
13. To Social Network or Not
I work with small business owners every day and one of the most common questions I get is "Should I be doing social media as part of my marketing?"
The short answer is "YES!"
The challenge is how? I always suggest you get a feel for the audience who are using these platforms and choose the platform which best describes your primary customer.
Facebook = Families
Twitter = Techno-People
LinkedIn = Professionals
Choose one to start with and learn how to use it well!
14. What’s the Biggest Challenge?
Always SEO and competing with Pay Per Click Competitors who advertise everywhere on line.
15. Bonking the Gophers
There's a kids game where you bonk a toy gopher on the head with a mallet. When one goes down another one pops up. The goal is to stay ahead of the gophers.
I thought of this game while trying to present to a new client. Between my initial call and meeting, their manager changed three times. Staying abreast of overturning employees can be daunting. No one wants to be a nudge. But how do you get the job? My advice? Put a smile in your voice and call as early in the day as you can.
16. Finding Profitable Customers
The biggest challenge for any business, NOT just small businesses, is finding and keeping profitable customers- not just any customers, but customers that make you a profit. This is the biggest challenge for small businesses.
17. The Money Wasted
Many small businesses do not have the training that larger businesses have in cost efficient practices. With the economy financially hurting small businesses, many are going out of business or letting employees go. A solution is looking at the ideas of Six Sigma for process improvement. It can help you find wasted money to help make the company stronger financially.
18. Business Development
The big impediment to business in the US, as in the UK and Europe, is Globalization. All of the jobs Americans, Brits and Europeans used to do have been handed to the Chinese, Indians, Bangladesh, Indonesians, Japanese and Koreans. Thus it is, if you want jobs in the US, you must stop importing cheap goods from these countries and start a renaissance of US Industry. Ditto for the Brits and Europeans.
19. The Economy
The biggest challenge facing small businesses today is the lousy economy. It is difficult to get new customers and generate sales when people and businesses are not spending. This is why it is so important to distinguish your business as being "different and better" so people/businesses receive a strong benefit from doing business with you that they do not receive anywhere else. Just being another "me too" business in this economy will kill you.
20. Focus Matters
The biggest challenge facing small business is focus--not credit, jobs, or technology. During times of seismic change (like right now), customers needs shift. The services, products, and solutions they used to get from small businesses don't matter as much anymore. Small business leaders must focus all of their attention on what matters most to their (future) customers today. Focus on becoming the best at what they want- you will succeed in the marketplace.
21. Recognize Difficulty of Task
The biggest problems most small business owners have is they fail to market, and more to the point, they fail to do enough marketing in enough different media to capture the attention of their prospects and clients. This happens because small business owners fail to recognize the difficulty of the task at hand. They don't realize how much it's going to take to market their business and to get their message out there - they think if they have a business or a website that business will just come.
22. Count on Accountability
The most successful businesses are those with high performing employees. The single biggest impediment to high performance is the lack of accountability for results. To establish rock solid accountability, key employees must have objective, quantifiable goals. These goals define the results they are expected to achieve. Employees are then evaluated against accomplishing their goals with a formal, written evaluation process. Salary increases, bonuses and promotions are based upon performance.
23. Show Me the Money
Lack of revenue is at the heart of most problems facing Small Businesses today. It causes layoffs, price increases, failed businesses, reduction in benefits for employees and owner, increased hours per employee including owner and higher stress levels. Lack of revenue also keeps Small Businesses from hiring.
24. Loosen Your Grip on E-mail
E-mail is an abysmal tool to rely upon solely for selling. Last year, your average customer spent 8+ hours per week plowing through e-mail. That's one entire business day! Yet, the amount of 1st class mail has dropped by over 46 billion pieces in the last five years. I recommend you write your client an old fashioned, personalized sales letter. Your message may take a bit longer to arrive, but you will effectively cut through the communication clutter and grab your client’s attention.
25. Play to Your Strengths
With ongoing consolidation, smaller firms have to prove viability. One example was Staples acquiring the largest Specialty Products (trade-show giveaways) company that had been trade only (only distributors could purchase products for resale. This changed to a direct-to-end-user company, but they don't have traction. Why? Because they are really a direct-to-'consumer' company and lack the infrastructure to meet businesses unique and solution-based needs. Score one for small business!
26. Too Many Hats!
Small business owners notoriously wear too many hats! Especially in consulting businesses/service businesses, not only do you have to provide your expertise, you also have to manage all aspects of your business. You're the accountant, the marketing manager, the schedule keeper, etc. It helps if you have tools to help you manage all of this, such as Google calendar. I also have a great accountant, which I feel is worth the cost, to handle my taxes.
27. Marketing Madness!
I work with small businesses and today, more than ever before, I see owners spending money on myriad marketing schemes they know nothing about. Too often, it is assumed that if it is new, it is an appropriate strategy for the business. Spending wads of money on SEO, social media, online advertising and more, the owner forgets to think who it is (s)he is trying to attract. Marketing is a bigger challenge then ever! Owners MUST target market to win customers!
28. Become a Good Listener
I've found from starting and running a small business that the greatest challenge is not paying the rent or keeping the power on- it's not listening to your client.
To be a good speaker- first, you must be a better listener.
29. Run with the Big Dogs
If you own your own business, you have already placed the first obstacle in your path to success by calling yourself "small." From this point forward, your mindset must be that of a Fortune 500 Company. Envision your company as a multinational conglomerate, attracting global business with ease.
This is not to say that you should embrace the complacency that can come with business prowess and success. Rather, remember that small thoughts garner small results. Aspiring to greatness is key!
30. Business Owners vs. the Media
The biggest challenge is current events. With all that is being splashed in the media about U.K. Riots, the unusual mix of natural disasters, stock market crashes, unemployment rates and continual recovery from the Great Recession, people are more afraid than ever to spend money on anything in fear of needing it for something unexpected and this gravely affects businesses.
31. Time for a New Product Line
The Great Recession has greatly lessened and radically changed demand in the economy. Small businesses must realize that there is little or no demand for their old products/services. There is, however, strong demand for new Recession related products/services. Dampening old products/services and rolling out new ones related to needs created by the Recession is a must for survival. What are these new needs? Job search, employee motivation, cash management, and cost cutting through technology.
32. Time Management
Time is the most valuable commodity of any small business owner. With so many distractions bombarding you every day, it is amazing that the vital things get done. The challenge is to develop filters that are relevant to your business model. Yes, marketing and social media specifically are important to your success. The trick is to understand WHICH mediums are developing ROI for YOU and which are just taking you away from your customers and being profitable. This is time worth spending!
33. What's Right w/ Your Business?
With 24/7 news screaming negativity at small business owners today, choose to focus on what's right with your business. Call your best customers and thank them for doing business with you. Put a thank you note in with your payroll checks this month & specifically thank each employee for that special touch they bring to the company. Touch base with your suppliers & let them know what you appreciate about doing business with them. Focus on the positive in your business & grow your bottom line.
34. Biggest Challenge
The biggest challenge facing small business today or any time is SALES, SALES, SALES. No sales, no business. It's as simple as that. You can borrow money to get started, but if you don't go after building up your sales, it won't last. You can cut back expenses, but without sales that too will only be short-lived. If you want to get into business, BE PREPARED to sell - or don't bother; you're wasting your money and energy.
35. The Business Transition Crisis
The tsunami of baby boomers who will be retiring in the next 5-10 years won't affect your business in the next 24 hrs, but will have a dramatic and irrecoverable impact one day soon. The problem; no one can predict exactly which day.
-Set a goal. When will you retire? How? How much $ do you need?
-Learn what your business is worth
-Work ON your business not IN it. Delegate, coach, and mentor more, DO less
-Get a coach to keep you on track
-Take more vacations
36. Tread Water Amid Despair-waves
The biggest challenge facing small business-owners is the need to keep their head above water. The economy will cause you to re-think being in business for yourself. You'll be tempted to seek regular employment and continuous paychecks. But...if you're doing what you love, find ways to reduce costs and gain new customers. Business cycles are not myths. You want to ride the waves of prosperity when they finally arrive. But if you sink now, you'll never be able to float financially in the future.
37. Small Business Fear of Hiring
The biggest issue facing small business is hiring. It is hard to know when to hire someone and if the business can maintain the growth.
38. Easy Access to Capital
I’ve discovered that obtaining capital is the BIGGEST challenge. Easy access to capital is critical for small businesses because they are the primary source of growth, innovation, and job creation. Until banks decide to ease their strict lending criteria, small business owners will continue to face difficulties when attempting to acquire capital.
39. Running a Biz is Damn Easy
One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is that their focus is “inside out”. The company has a product and tries to figure out how to get customers to buy it. Instead, the thinking should be “outside in,” based on listening to what customers want. The fundamental purpose of any business or organization is to serve people’s needs. Often, companies forget who their customers are or else they never identified them in the first place.
40. Sales is the Solution
The biggest challenge facing small business owners today is increasing their sales. Most small businesses do no market effectively either on-line and or off-line and placing additional focus is required to succeed. Focusing on increasing customer transaction size and customer frequency, along with an aggressive on-line and off-line marketing campaign will have a positive effect on sales. Building the know, like, and trust factor through social media is another very effective tactic for business.
41. Give Away $ to Get $ Back
The #1 biggest challenge is to QUIT giving away $!
Sir Richard Branson gives $$ away in his 500 Businesses.
Give-to-Get is the RULE.
Here's how we chunk this idea down so you can use it to make $$$ yourself -
The #1 CPA in NYC sets up a clipping service to keep clients for life.
What we do is send a 3.00 Paypal w/a $-making idea - systematically to all
clients in my top 5% VIP list.
10X to 100X more $ comes back. Try it!
42. Know the CAUSE of Success!
The biggest challenge is confusing cause and effect. Too many business owners are looking at the current economic situation as a CAUSE for their lack of success right now, when the economy is actually an EFFECT. Your internal state and the actions you take are the CAUSE of your business success, and our collective consciousness and actions are the CAUSE of the current economic situation! Once you understand this, you are in a powerful position to change your business situation!
43. Targeted Benefits
To attract more clients/customers, small businesses need to focus on presenting “benefits” rather than “features” of their products or services. In addition, small businesses often use a scattershot marketing approach, rather than a targeted approach. Social media participation as part of a strategic marketing plan can be an excellent cost-effective way of getting in front of target audiences and showcasing the business' “benefits.”
44. Make Social Media Sell
SMBs are challenged to make social media produce leads & sales, convert friends/followers to customers. It IS being done by businesses like www.logan-inc.com (Facebook) and www.petrelocation.com (blogs). Here's how: With a systematic approach that has nothing to do with what 'experts' are saying to do (ie. get retweeted often, friended more etc.). They're getting back to basics and focusing on solving customers' problems to create real revenue & customers.
45. What Sticks to Your Wall?
Most business owners stay awake at night thinking about how to generate new business. Yet, if you asked 100,000 business owners if they have a weekly marketing plan in place (or any marketing/business-building plan at all), 99% will likely tell you, "No!" In fact, most business owners just throw ideas "against a wall" just to see what sticks - and that is NOT a marketing and business-building plan.
The business owner who wants consistent growth needs to follow a plan. It's that simple.
46. Don't Waste Your Brain
Albert Einstein said it well, "A brain is a terrible thing to waste."
Devoting the time and resources to continuing education is often overlooked in small businesses. When the focus is on complete this task, receive this reward- it is hard to justify taking the time to learn.
Not only will expanding your knowledge increase your bottom line, it will give you the insight needed to know if "this" is the business for you.
47. Landing Fast Sales
A fundamental skill of every small business owner or management team must be that of selling and most do it well. But what happens when a recession hits and customers stop buying?
Sell to the biggest customer on the planet... The US Government who buys $700 billion a year of stuff from toothpaste to torpedoes. But there is a secret: Don't sell to Uncle Sam, instead sell to their suppliers. In 6 weeks, you'll have more sales than you need.
48. Keeping Up with Hot Topics
Ways to stay cutting-edge online: Search blogs, articles, and discussion boards related to your topic. Post positive comments and links to your site. Use Google Alerts to get daily alerts when your topic gets mentioned online. Keep track of the positive and negatives people are saying about your competitors. Start a company blog and write about topics that are trending online. Use Twitter and Facebook to ask the public what they really think about specific topics to gain an clear understanding.
49. The Money's in Your Back-end
The biggest challenge for small business owners today is re-engineering their business to capture more profit from current customers. It's harder than ever to get new customers...the game has changed and building back-end profit machines is where you can create growth. The challenge is twofold: 1) Recognizing the need to create new back-end products and services (most business owners get stuck here) and 2) Implementing a succession of new offerings on the back-end to capture maximum profits.
50. Plan for Disasters
When disaster strikes, 25 percent of businesses forced to close never open their doors again. All small businesses need to be physically and financially prepared for disasters. Physically, keep disaster kits, alarms and employee training on what to do. Financially, make sure to have business interruption insurance, and know that flood and earthquake coverage are needed as well. Know your supply chain and how it can be affected by a disaster. Prepare now or close your doors for ever.
51. A Pinch for Nonprofits, too
With the economy what it is, money is an issue for all of us, including nonprofits. For a small nonprofit like the Reading Tub, getting donations is particularly difficult... and disheartening. When you see organizations like RIF losing funding it seems pointless to even apply for grants.
While we have been able to take advantage of the many passive fundraising tools available, it is still a matter of stiff competition among nonprofits. Distinguishing OUR literacy outreach is a challenge.
52. Cash Flow Help for Businesses
The greatest challenge to small businesses is cash flow. Owners who have put off their accounting work should catch up using the cash rather than the accrual method of accounting. Do the work yourself and save big bucks in fees and have the information for your taxes. “QuickBooks Made Fast and Simple” is the only book that teaches this method. Use an accountant only when converting from cash to accrual. You can’t sail a leaking ship or run a business without accounting, they both will sink.
53. Small Marketing Budget
Many small business owners have small marketing budgets. They know marketing is needed, but it's not considered in their business plan. It's a challenge because they don't have big budgets to market, but if they don't market, they have no business. A great solution for small business owners is internet marketing. They can compete in the same arena with big business, their dollars spent can be tracked and highly targeted, and their ROI is higher than any other form of media for them.
54. Own Your Size
The single biggest challenge facing small businesses today is an unwillingness to accept being a small business. So many small firms try to appear to be “big” and they’re not. Embrace being a small business and go after the clients who see the value in a small firm. Being nimble, having a short chain of command, access to top executives, etc. are advantages rarely shared by larger firms, and there are plenty of prospective clients out there who appreciate--and need--those very qualities.
55. Biz Owners, Get FOCUSED!!!
ONE big challenge facing small businesses?
Small business owners lack focus due to the overwhelming number of strategies and tactics they need to implement in order to develop their business, i.e. multiple social media networks, advertising vs. marketing, branding, networking, selling and prospecting, serving, etc. They need to know THEIR customer, find their DIFFERENTIATION, and to PLAN and PRIORITIZE the activities that will generate revenue, build their brand, and make them profitable.
56. Adapt with Creative Solutions
Many small businesses in our network have experienced a slow-down in sales and growth where they feel like they're running nonprofit organizations instead of businesses. The solution? Adaptation. In the wake of the Mad Cow Disease outbreak in the UK, one entrepreneurial farmer offered his cows up for banner advertising. It was a creative way to generate revenue during a crisis. Adaptation means looking for people’s unmet needs and changing the way you do business to meet those needs.
57. ProcrastiNation Rages
Uncertainty is the biggest challenge facing small business. It's shortening the planning horizon ("who knows what will happen"), restraining investments, putting pressure on staff (stress about whether the sales will happen, and then stress when they do happen), and hindering hiring. We've become a ProcrastiNation. How do you manage with all of this uncertainty? Cut distractions and focus on the strongest parts of your business, communicate more frequently, and make sure your plans are conservative.
58. Business Plastic=ID Theft
Legitimate small business cannot create good jobs and abide by federal law when competing with employers who hire and pay illegally. A generation of employees is trained that tax evasion is an entitlement (i.e. cash).
59. Have a Personal "FedEx Day"
Unless you consciously work to differentiate your small business, it can easily become a commodity, just another dish of vanilla ice cream.
Differentiation comes from innovation. One way to become an intentional innovator is to challenge yourself with a FedEx Day: a 24-hour block of time devoted to solving a problem or creating a new product, service, or business model. (It's called a FedEx Day because you have to deliver something--a rough draft or prototype--at the end.)
60. Finding the Time to Do it All
As a small business owner, you wear many hats. One of the biggest challenges is finding time to market your business. Doing the day to day operations can take up a lot of your time. Finding time to do the e-mailing, social media, and video marketing, as well as the day to day operations is a constant juggling act. That is one of the biggest challenges- making that time management work.
61. Chasing Fleeting Value
Business owners face many challenges, and as you look at the overwhelming list, you suddenly realize they funnel into the ONE big challenge, consistently bringing value to customers to keep them coming back. A continued rise of costs, quality products and services, capable and dependable staff, point in one direction, the customer. They simply move on if perceived value is not met. It is especially true in the current economic climate, where value is scrutinized for every purchase.
62. Small Biz & the Govt. Headache
Small business has this ongoing challenge with government ---- the sense it is working against our interests every day. We battle high taxes and unnecessary regulations that are often senseless. Businesses are cautious about investing or hiring because of an uncertainty about what they’ll do next. Politicians talk endlessly about creating jobs and then do nothing; nothing but impose obstacles on us that hinder the creation of them. We must speak up or this will never change!
63. I NEED BUSINESS!!!
The biggest challenge in today's economic climate is that people are not spending, thus, How Can I Do More Business?
Tax breaks for hiring are nonsense. Loans for business are also nonsense & cutting costs are all obvious. Why should I hire if I am not doing the business is the question.
The answer lies in bringing in more business.
The last place to cut is in advertising & to do more inexpensively...so, do flyers, social sites, press releases, targeted ads, email blasts- get creative.
64. Do it All and More!
Small businesses are battling each other for the attention of stakeholders and the media. They can't afford to hire professionals to do outreach and PR, so they have to do these things themselves. Facebook and YouTube don’t cost anything and they help get attention, but there’s still so much more business owners could be doing if they knew how. Today’s small business owner is also part PR specialist, part webmaster and part outreach coordinator. The level of multitasking keeps growing.
65. The Foe of Small Business
Owning and advising small businesses permits me to speak of threats. The great obstacle to business is the out-pour of regulations strangling them. Federal agencies are the big culprit; state and locals play a part. Fortunes are spent to comply with rules dictated by bureaucrats creating nightmares to justify their jobs, money that could provide growth and jobs. Over-regulation and duplication impedes. Firms can't survive to provide jobs. Sensible regulations protect and still let firms flourish.
Consumers are spending less - therefore businesses have less to spend. Since my business is B2B, I am seeing a definite decrease in business. It's not that companies don't see the value in what I offer (Customer Service training), but they are reluctant to spend the money, or simply do not have the money to spend after meeting their payroll and fixed obligations. I have no magic bullet to offer to bolster the economy - which is what is needed to keep all of the business wheels turning.
67. No Guts, No Glory in Business
The one biggest challenge facing small business owners is lack of guts. We play small.
Ways small business owners play small:
- Keeping one foot in our "real" job & one foot in our business
- Working as technicians in our business instead of hiring work out because we are afraid to overextend ourselves
- Not playing all in & taking that huge risk--instead puttering around for years doing the same things that yield the same results
- No guts, no glory, baby. Go all in!
68. Small Business Challenges Grow
Small businesses are challenged to grow and sustain their companies in a slowing economy with limited financial resources. The curtailment of small business loans and restricted credit has hindered the small business owner. I believe the answer to this dilemma is better cash flow management. Managing cash is essential to maintaining and growing a business.
69. CEO Sees the Customer First
The biggest challenge facing small businesses today is making customers happy. There are so many options for consumers to choose from now that businesses are forced to not only meet, but exceed their customers' expectations.
Tony Ellison of Shoplet
70. Tightfisted Customers
With the recession came frugality. People are watching their pennies closely and not splurging as much. Less money is being put into the economy leading to less sales/revenue for small business.
71. No Easy Sale
Gone are the days of the impulse buy--but not just at the register line. The careful scrutiny of any purchase or investment is made everywhere from the dry goods store to the venture capitalist's board room. Small businesses must be more targeted and clear-minded than ever, as they define their value proposition. With fewer discretionary dollars, unemployment, and market uncertainty, selling back-to-basics value is the best place to start, regardless of what you are selling.
72. Fire Yourself, Become the CEO
Small businesses owners' biggest challenge is shifting from an employee mindset to a CEO mindset. Many business owners came from corporate where their work was assigned. They know how to stay busy, but that won't cut it. Busyness does not equal productivity or effectiveness. The solution is to SLOW DOWN. Give yourself a day off each week. Use that day to create a vision for growth and decide on bold, focused strategy. Then, implement. As you grow, fire yourself from operations; become the CEO.
73. Finding & Retaining Good Help!
The biggest challenge I face, in spite of the high unemployment rate, is finding and retaining GOOD help. The last several months, I've had to fire people, watch people leave without notice, and struggle to pay the good ones while trying not to go bankrupt! Small businesses can't catch any breaks with taxes and the IRS auditing those that try to "skate under the radar" by classifying people as independent contractors to avoid payroll taxes. What's an owner to do if we can't do it all ourselves?
74. Power of Belief
In a recent poll we took on Facebook, we asked our entrepreneurial audience, "What do you think is the #1 issue holding back Entrepreneurs from their greatest success?" The number one answer right up there with the time to get focused was belief. Not money which we can tend to think is the problem when it is low - but belief in our vision and ideas. So, the question perhaps to ask yourself when the dollars are tight is how strong is your belief and vision in taking your business forward?
75. Plan to Win
Often, small business owners can get too busy doing to figure out what needs to be done in both the mid-term and long-term. The solution: schedule an entire day to build a short concise strategic plan for your business that addresses three goals for the next 12 months. Next, designate time each month to track your progress. If you need direction on building a plan, bring in a trusted advisor but remember, what gets measured and tracked – gets done.
76. Business as Usual Equals Death
The story goes a business starts, struggles through all of the issues, and finally gets to a profitable and comfortable status. That's the challenge; the comfortable status is a death warrant! The next day, the market, competition, or technology change and the company is behind!
Take at least 2 hours each week, preferably 20 minutes each day to ask yourself, "How can we change ourselves, market, product, delivery etc. to be ahead of the curve?" This causes adaptation, innovation and continual growth!
77. How to Hire a Millennial
Hiring Millennial generation employees can be a big challenge; their attitude & thoughts about work & their work environment are different, from checking Facebook & texting all day to pushing back against HR policies while expecting a speedy promotion. Now I speak frankly about a natural progression of a career here to establish realistic expectations. I cater to their strengths; they handle social media, create grassroots marketing strategies & work together to play off each others' strengths.
Do you know another challenge facing small business that wasn’t included? If you do, please share it below. And as always, many thanks to everyone that contributed to this article!