For entrepreneurs, running your own business offers rewards as well as challenges. While some issues — like reducing employee turnover and successfully building a brand — are at the top of many business owners' list of complaints (regardless of organizational size), a number of obstacles tend to plague small businesses in particular.
Read on to learn about the five biggest small business challenges... and how to solve them.
Challenge #1: Managing Money
While cash flow is an issue for many organizations, small businesses tend to be plagued by specific challenges such as clients who take their time paying invoices, expenditures that aren't exactly expected (surprise!), and outstanding bills that need to be paid.
For many business owners, these monetary demands can be easier to handle with a little bit of technological help. Consider online money management tools and software, budgeting apps and automated bill payment systems to lighten the burden. And don't be afraid to utilize professional tax and accounting services, as well.
Challenge #2: Cyber Security
If you pay attention to the news, you've likely seen coverage of large data breaches affecting millions of customers. Organizations like Target, eBay, JP Morgan Chase, and Home Depot are just a few of the companies affected by cybercrime in the last few years.
But hackers don't just target big business; according to Symantec's 2016 Internet Security Threat Report, about 43% of phishing campaigns target small businesses.
Cyber crime can impact your business, your employees, and your customers, leaving you with mounting costs. Whether due to denial of service or web-based attacks, these malicious crimes can cause extensive — and expensive — damage.
You can protect yourself against the high cost of a data breach or hack with cyber liability insurance for your business. In addition, take a proactive approach to cyber security: keep software up-to-date, utilize anti-malware and antivirus protection, and educate employees about cyber risks.
Challenge #3: Client Dependence
The old saying "don't put all your eggs in one basket" applies to many areas of life, including your small business' client base. Diversification is a key component to any organization's success, but it's absolutely essential for small businesses.
As a general rule, no one client should make up more than half of your income. If you want your business to grow and be stable, you must invest time and effort into increasing your client base. Start by taking a look at your best clients: identify their characteristics and ask for their feedback. Use the information you glean to target new clients with similar needs and market your product or service to them as a solution to their specific problem.
Challenge #4: Marketing
Twitter. Facebook. Instagram. Blogging. As a small business owner, your time is valuable.... and keeping up with the latest marketing trends can be daunting!
Getting the word out to your current and potential clients about your amazing offerings is still as important as ever, but today's marketing methods have changed. While digital technology has made it simple to put content about your products or services out into the world, cutting through the clutter on social media and other platforms can feel like a full-time job.
Make it easy on yourself by using apps and automation tools to pre-schedule your social media posts and email marketing campaigns.
Challenge #5: Burn Out
You care about your business and want it to succeed... and this often means long hours and stress. Add in the common fear that the business can't operate at its best without the owner there, and you've got a toxic blend that, over time, can lead to fatigue. Often, business owners end up working longer hours than their employees!
Finding that "sweet spot" in which both the business and the business owner thrive is key. Be sure to take time for yourself to rest and recharge so you can keep your enthusiasm high.
While every small business is different and faces different challenges, these common obstacles can be overcome. From cyber security to marketing, you can take charge of your business with these simple solutions.