Running a small business can be very fulfilling, but it’s not easy. A number of common problems go along with this job. Small business owners often have to deal with high stress levels, juggle many different aspects of business management, and check off a to-do list a mile long. Without a strong set of coping skills, many business owners get overwhelmed or run into problems they don’t know how to solve.
If this sounds like you, don’t panic. There’s a solution to almost every business problem out there.
Here are seven of the most common snafus you’re likely to encounter, as well as some practical solutions.
1. Money management issues.
Small businesses often operate on a tight budget. It can take several years for a business to start turning a profit, and during that time, late payments or disappearing clients can cause major headaches. To complicate the problem, many small business owners aren’t good at managing business finances, leading to patchy planning and unreliable record-keeping.
The fix: Establish good money management habits as early as possible. Look into bookkeeping software like Freshbooks or Quickbooks, which can automate many of the trickier parts of money management. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider outsourcing jobs like taxes to an accountant.
2. Not having a business strategy.
It’s hard to make smart business decisions if you don’t have a strategy in place, but a surprising number of small businesses operate without a plan. If you don’t have well-documented goals and a road map for making them happen, you’re likely to see your business’ growth stall.
The fix: Sit down and make a plan ASAP. Write out a detailed description of what your business does and where you want it to be in five years. Then come up with some specific strategies for management, finances, customer service, and marketing. As your business grows and you learn more, revisit your business plan and adjust it appropriately.
3. Trying to do everything yourself.
As your business grows, your task load will grow too. It can be hard to trust other people with important jobs, but you’ll run yourself ragged if you try to do everything yourself, and that’s not good for your morale or your productivity.
The fix: Delegate tasks whenever you can. If you have employees, give them more responsibilities. You might also want to consider hiring independent contractors to do your marketing, your finances, or other tasks that eat up a lot of your time.
4. Time and energy management.
If you’re a small business owner, you’re going to be busy – there’s no way around it. But it’s important to maintain a good work-life balance. Working too much can burn you out, and that spells disaster for your business.
The fix: If you’ve been feeling frazzled or exhausted lately, it’s time to take a break (yes, really). Your personal well-being has everything to do with how well you can run your business, so make rest a priority. Consider using a time management app to ensure you get some personal time every day.
5. Employee problems.
Employees can make or break a small business. Bored, negative, or underperforming employees can tarnish your reputation and create more work for you.
The fix: Take stock of your current employee situation. If someone isn’t performing well, it’s time to have a talk with them – or reevaluate whether they should remain with your business. If your employees are currently productive and happy, keep them that way by paying attention to their needs and showing appreciation for their hard work.
6. Lack of marketing know-how.
Marketing is a key part of business success, but not every small business owner is a marketing expert. If your marketing campaigns are unsuccessful (or nonexistent), your sales figures will be disappointing, regardless of how amazing your product is.
The fix: If there’s room in your budget, consider hiring a marketing agency or a freelance marketing professional. If you’re on a tight budget or you’re more of a DIY type, you could also teach yourself the basics of marketing. This requires a bit of a time investment, but there are plenty of blogs, articles, and online courses that will show you the ropes for free.
7. Finding customers.
It can be tough to find customers or clients while you’re still establishing yourself as a business. If you’re not making many sales, you might struggle to cover your operating expenses, let alone make any money yourself.
The fix: Step up your marketing efforts. In addition, focus on networking, both online and offline. Leverage your social media presence to connect with potential buyers, and go out of your way to meet people in your field – conferences and meetups are great for this.