In my work, I’m lucky to work with some really diverse scaling companies as well as many small business owners. I have to say, small business owners really do inspire me as their strength, resilience and determination, often against many barriers, is hugely inspiring. However, there are many issues they face which influence how they run their business and their success. Here I’ll share with you the top five issues small business owners face, which come up time and again and how we tackle them when they come to me.
The Top Five Issues Small Business Owners Face
This is a big one. We can all suffer from a crisis of confidence or imposter syndrome at times. I work with a lot of small business owners on their confidence, or perceived ‘lack of’, which can severely impact all areas of their business. There are often a lot of feelings of being worthy or good enough to be taken seriously as a small business owner. Couple this with the often over-egged, glossy and far-fetched Instagram idea of how a small business can look. It’s something which can lead to small business owners running for the hills.
The first thing to remember here is how special and inspiring you already are. It takes guts and determination to take an idea and turn it into a business and put yourself out there. Also, it can also be lonely at times, which is why finding like-minded people is so vital. Befriend fellow business owners, get involved in communities (such as your local Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Britain) and immerse yourself in the world of small business. It’s in these communities that people have your back and are there to lift you up when you have a wobble. Turning up every day within your business can be really hard work. It’s deeply personal, and you can often feel exposed. But remember you started for a reason, you’re good at what you do, and your audience is out there.
Delegation / managing roles
When we start our business, we do everything and take on all roles. We are the accountant, marketer, salesperson, cleaner, strategist as well as the role we started the business in the first place to do. It’s understandable that we do this – but it’s when we stay in those roles that it can be problematic.
Many business owners find it hard to relinquish control and this can be for many reasons. It may include wanting full autonomy over the business as well as budget worries. However, I work with them to talk about the power of delegation and how sometimes a small investment in external help can be hugely beneficial. It’s liberating to then free up their time to do the stuff they should be doing. Labouring over the things that are not our strong point (hello, spreadsheets) can be more detrimental than anything. And when you think of the time and money you’re not earning whilst doing this, delegating or outsourcing may be the answer.
Many small business owners are doing all the work, have an amazing product or service but aren’t getting the engagement or sales they need. Making your brand stand out amidst all the brands out there can feel daunting, but there is some behind-the-scenes work you can do to help get it seen.
I ask a lot of small business owners if they really know who their audience is and if they’ve tested their product and services. There is often a disparity between brands thinking they know who their audience is compared to reality. This is often where the issues lie. In order to market and talk to your customers, you need to really know who they are, what they like, where they hang out and how they like to be spoken to. Doing that work and engaging a marketing professional can really work wonders. And no, not everyone is your customer. If you think they are, then you’ll need to work harder at defining your audience because believe me, they’re not. You know Marmite? Exactly.
As I mentioned before, small business owners wear many hats and often never switch off. But it is important you do. Balancing work and life can be tricky, but if you don’t allow yourself time away from the daily grind, you can get unwell and unable to run your business. Looking after your physical and mental health is paramount to success. So do have a good look at how you are spending your days and if you have enough down-time factored in.
Balancing the books
One of the main reasons we’re in business is to earn money, so making sure that happens is key. Often, small business owners come to me as they’re worried their business just isn’t profitable.
It’s important to take the time to really drill down on the numbers to understand why this could be. And don’t shy away from it however uncomfortable it feels. What’s happening? Are your price points right in line with your market and competitors? What are your outgoings? Being on top of your numbers is imperative to really understanding your business. If you’re worried about any of these top five issues a small business owner may face, then it might be time to get a professional helping hand.