5 tips to supercharge your business!
Achievement, success and innovation are terms we associate with entrepreneurship, but the other side of the picture that is carved with hard work, challenges & even failure is often ignored. It is a well-known fact that only fifty per cent of the businesses survive the first 5 years. Twenty per cent fail in the very first year of business bearing financial losses and only twenty-five percent of businesses exceed the ten-year benchmark.
All businesses, small or big, face various challenges time and again during the entrepreneurial journey. What sets successful businesses apart from failed businesses is the way they deal with and overcome obstacles. While we can’t unlock the exact secrets of success for the twenty-five percent businesses that celebrate continued success even after ten years, we can definitely map out the challenges that are common to most businesses and then come up with the well-suited solutions to those challenges. If you are a business owner or an entrepreneur preparing to set your foot in the business world, this blog is for you. Let’s have a look at the most common challenges that almost all businesses face and ways to overcome.
- Brand-Building and Marketing
One of the initial challenges that most businesses face, regardless of their industry, is building a strong brand identity. You get to decide how you want your customers/clients to see your brand, what attributes do you want your brand to be associated with and amongst which particular segment of masses you want your brand to primarily penetrate. All of this can be achieved according to your own perception of the brand through strategic marketing.
“Getting marketing involved soon is essential; you need to start marketing your product or service even before you begin development.” Michael Simonett.
As a small business owner, you might not be aware of marketing practices and outsourcing brand marketing may not be an option due to limited financial resources. However, tackling basic brand building and marketing can be simplified using the following tactics;
- Research (Brand Testing and Utilising Feedback) – In order to identify who the right and most acceptable audience for your brand would be, try testing your product on a diverse group of a small audience. Then use their feedback to map out your marketing strategy for the identified audience.
- Niche Identification In a competitive sector of the industry, it is important to identify your unique selling point and then incorporating that into your marketing strategy.
- Building an online presence online marketing offers micro businesses the opportunity to build an online presence free of cost on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. You can place occasional ads that can be crafted according to your budget and targeted precisely towards your identified brand audience. All your social accounts can be linked to your website. Free website builders are great tools to develop customisable template based websites at minimal or no cost.
Just remember, once you have developed an online presence, do not discontinue the marketing due to budget or changing industrial landscape constraints. Discontinue the ads, if you must, but keep making the most of free marketing that online platforms offer.
“Too many people are using Brexit as an excuse to become less daring, particularly when it comes to marketing, rather than being conservative with marketing spends, maintaining momentum and forging ahead should be on everyone’s minds, with personal branding at the core. People have always bought from people but never in the way they do now. Pushing someone to the front of your business to be seen as the expert in your field will put you ahead of the competition.” – Peter Watson.
- Employing and Retaining Talent
“You’re only as good as your team.”
As an entrepreneur, you might have started your business journey solo, but as you move forward, you’d need to employ people for various roles. Small businesses often have a limited budget, which means they can only hire a certain number of people at a time. In these circumstances, you need to make sure that each employee you hire is worthy enough to be a part of your team. But how do you make sure that you are hiring the right people and ensure that they will stay? It’s simple. You just need to be careful, patient and honest during the recruitment process.
- Hire people who add to your knowledge and skillset
As an entrepreneur or a sole small business owner, you probably won’t be an expert in every facet of your business. No matter how experienced you are, there is a good chance that your knowledge and skill set is limited regarding some area of business. Therefore, when you plan to hire someone for the first time, you need to look for multitalented individuals who won’t only help shed your workload but also add to the knowledge base and skills required for your business growth and success.
- Be patient
A common mistake that most businesses make is being hasty about filling the positions. Your team will ultimately be responsible for your business handling. Make sure that you interview as many potential candidates as you can. Do not hire someone unless you have complete confidence in an individual or if you have doubts about their skill set. If you hire someone because they look promising but you are not entirely sure about them, you might have to re-hire in a few months. This will not only slow down your business but will also add to your or your team’s workload.
- Let go
All entrepreneurs are passionate about their cause. They know that no one can handle their business better than themselves. However, it is important to delegate tasks to your employs in order to invest your time in more meaningful things like networking. Once you have hired someone, make sure to use their full potential for your business growth. People tend to stay longer in their jobs if they are given more freedom and trust from the higher-ups.
“As a solopreneur, the biggest challenge has been delegating responsibilities and relinquishing control,” Scarlett Roucout
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- Managing Business Finances
The biggest reason why 20 per cent of businesses fail and close down in the very first year is financial mismanagement. A lot of micro business owners are not aware of the day to day costs involved in running a business, which is why the finances that they plan for three months end up being spent in one month. The unexpected costs not only prove to be a barrier in moving forward but are also a huge demotivation factor for many startups.
Learning financial handling basics before allocating budget can prove to be a saviour for your business. Don’t worry; you wouldn’t necessarily have to crunch numbers yourself. There are a number of ways you can handle your business finances regardless of the size of your business.
- Hire an accountant
Adding someone to your team who can manage finances is always a good business investment. An accountant can help you with a variety of financial business matters such as;
- Mapping your business’s legal structure
- Business expansion planning
- Year-end financial statements
Unlike a software, with the human intelligence factor, an accountant can help you set realistic budgets/ financial benchmarks through proper planning and research.
- Use technology to your advantage
You might not be in a position to hire someone initially as most micro and small businesses are on a tight budget. However, with the technological advancements in every field, it is now easy- more than ever- to handle your basic finances without hiring an accountant. How? Make the most of software’s, such as QuickBooks or FreshBooks, which can handle the numbers for you.
- Keep business and personal expenses separate
A common mistake that can cause you to lose track of your finances is not separating personal expenses from business expenses. A lot of home-based / micro business owners think that they know where they are spending and so they can manage both finances from the same bank account. When you use a common account for all your finances, you are bound to flex budgets when and where it is needed.
Keeping separate accounts not only helps you limit your business activities according to your budget but will also help you have a clear picture of your cash flow.
- Balancing Between Quality & Growth
Numerous small micro/ small businesses are successful because of these key factors; the personalised connections that they have with their clients and the attention to detail that they offer. However, with the passage of time, almost all businesses need to scale up. Scaling up comes with its own set of challenges. One of the many challenges is; losing the personalised touch and compromising quality. The very factors that are a catalyst of business growth become its challenges. This might appear as a tricky situation. Obviously, all businesses aim to expand with time, so you can’t just halt business growth because it compromises quality. This doesn’t mean that business owners should be ready to compromise the quality of product /service they offer. This means that business owners should come up with and implement more effective ways to ensure quality control.
- Hire and Train Staff
A lot of entrepreneurs think they are the best at what they do and have a difficult time delegating work to employs. The best way to tackle this is to take the lead of an employee team and train them in a way that the quality of work doesn’t get affected.
- Help them offer personalized engagement with the clients/ customers.
While you might not be able to offer the personalised services to your clients/ customers due to business expansion, your employees can. Train your staff to reflect the same level of connection with your client that you do when dealing with them. A strong public relations strategy can also help you achieve this goal.
- A balanced approach
While your team might not be able to produce the exact quality of work that you do, as far as it’s acceptable, learn to make a compromise. Remember; you need to trust your team in order to generate results and also, in order to retain them. Micromanaging not only consumes a good chunk of your time but also leads to unhappy employees.
- Surviving Competition
According to a survey by Captera, Out of 499 small business respondents, 16% identified increasing competition as a challenge, while 24% of 200 midsize business respondents reported the same.
When you start a business, chances are that someone else in the industry will also be offering the same solution. Even if you offer an innovative solution, someone or many would soon copy your idea and might execute it better than you. Dealing with constant or rivalry competition can be very challenging in achieving your business goals. In fact, in a number of cases, the competition itself is a huge decisive factor while setting business goals.
When faced with new competition, businesses have two options;
- Alter the offerings Businesses can alter their offerings such as; features, price or services, to meet the challenge presented by a new entrant. Moreover, Businesses should also use tactics such as; forecasting, employ pricing development strategies to build a unique sales proposition, allowing them to avoid the deflationary pressures of a pricing war while maintaining their market share.
- Shift the Niche Businesses can pivot to avoid competition. Which means you can either invest your resources in fighting your competition or you can shift your niche in the same industry to a less crowded one. For example; if two travel companies offer tours to European countries, one can shift the niche to less travelled/ exotic destinations.
Running a business can be nerve-wracking and gratifying at the same time. But one thing is for sure; it’s not going to be easy. You will be faced with challenges throughout your business journey. But when you find yourself faced with any of these challenges, just remember that there are multiple solutions to each of these obstacles. Stay organised, be aware of the challenges, and don’t be afraid to delegate—whatever your business problems, there’s a service or professional to help you fix it.