Starting a small business comes with many perks. From the freedom to create your schedule to the possibility of earning more than you might have at your day job, becoming an entrepreneur opens up possibilities that just aren’t available when you’re working for someone else.
However, all of those benefits come with responsibilities and new challenges that you may not have had at your 9-to-5. We asked our entrepreneurs about the most common challenges they face when running their businesses and have put together some useful tips to help you overcome them.
What makes being an entrepreneur challenging?
As rewarding as entrepreneurship can be, it also comes with some unique challenges that you’re unlikely to face working for an employer. Entrepreneurs are ultimately responsible for everything that goes into making a business flourish, including marketing, sales, hiring, quality control, budgeting, and customer service.
They also face the challenge of starting a new project from the ground up. While established businesses have momentum in the form of existing clients and earned trust, new businesses have to work hard to establish themselves.
While you can’t predict every difficulty that will come up in your business journey, being prepared for common challenges can help you set up a plan for dealing with them. That’s why thinking about the following challenges in relation to your business can save you time, effort, and money in the long run.
9 business challenges every small business struggles with (and how to fix them)
Regardless of what field you’re in, there are common challenges many small business owners struggle with. By knowing what they are, you can do your best to plan for them and navigate obstacles as smoothly as possible.
1. Finding your first customer
Finding your first customer as a small business owner can be a lot of work. A larger company may already have a customer base in the form of an email list, a social media following, or even a large enough network that they can rely on getting new customers through word-of-mouth.
Many new businesses find their first customers among friends and family, so one way to navigate this challenge is to contact people throughout your entire network and see if you can find potential customers there. Keep in mind, customers also like to see some social proof that your product or service is as good as you say it is. As a small business, it takes time to build an online presence and gather testimonials that can help build trust in your brand.
2. Increasing brand awareness
Brand recognition is an important component of marketing since customers typically need to be exposed to a new brand several times before buying from them. Brand awareness can come from online marketing or offline marketing, mentions in the media, speaking events, or even hearing others talk about your brand. It is not something that can typically be established overnight, which makes it a challenge for small business owners.
For many businesses, building a strong social media presence is an excellent way to build brand awareness in their target market. Attending events and looking for ways to partner with other businesses can also be an effective means of increasing recognition for your brand.
3. Maintaining quality as you grow your business
Growth is a major goal for every small business. But any business owner will tell you it’s difficult to maintain the same standards of quality as their business flourishes. This is true for both product and service-based businesses.
Growing at a sustainable rate is often a good approach. You may be tempted to take on every business opportunity available to you, but if you cannot deliver well on those opportunities, your business may ultimately suffer.
4. Lead generation
While the best tools for lead generation vary from one industry to the next, larger companies have access to expensive directories and databases that smaller businesses can’t necessarily afford. Luckily, with the help of Google, you can probably produce a lengthy list of leads. They may not be perfectly tailored to your business, but as long as you can get comfortable with the fact that they won’t all be interested in your product or service, you are sure to find some successful leads.
5. Delighting your customers
The things that delight customers can be quite expensive to produce. From custom packaging to engaging websites, it can be difficult for a small business to finance these elements of a delightful customer experience.
However, as a small business, you also have an edge over larger businesses in that you can offer a personalized touch. For example, for a product-based business, try including a handwritten thank you note with each order.
6. Hiring talented people