Category

Small Business

Category

One thing you’ll learn rather quickly about being a business owner there’s always some obstacle to overcome. As rewarding as owning a company can be, the process of getting and keeping it successful isn’t always a simple one. Often possessing very little money, time, and resources, many entrepreneurs aren’t prepared to handle daily challenges which can result in the demise of their dreams.

The only way to prevent it from happening to you is to be proactive and find innovative ways to overcome some of the common small business problems.

Common Small Business Problems

Problem: Cash Flow

No matter what kind of company you own cash is necessary to keep it afloat. However, as most entrepreneurs probably already know, obtaining cash from traditional outlets like banks or online lenders is easier said than done. As you need money to pay for everything from your website to your inventory, and commercial property expenses, when the money runs dry, the business tends to follow.

Solution:

There are a lot of reasons that cash flow becomes an issue. However, one of the most common is held up in accounts receivable or customer invoicing. When billing customers for products and services already rendered, waiting for them to pay can hold up funds. To decrease the number of outstanding payments from customers it is important to develop a strong system. This includes drafting clear invoices sent out in a timely fashion and having multiple methods of payment, such as cash, credit cards, and online payment solutions. You should also follow up with late customers. You might also consider offering incentives like discounts for timely payments to encourage faster returns.

Problem: Not Enough Assistance

Another challenge small businesses face on a regular basis is staffing. Many entrepreneurs wear several hats and try to take on all the responsibility. Though this may work for a while, eventually, being overworked can decrease the quality of your results. Trying to complete everything on your own whether you’re skilled in that department or not can greatly hurt your company’s success.

Solution:

Even the most successful business owners didn’t reach the top without some assistance from others. Though budget constraints may prevent you from hiring a team that works full-time, there are more affordable options to get you the help that you need. This includes outsourcing certain tasks to companies or independent contractors, hiring temporary or part-time staff, and if necessary bartering your services to receive assistance from another business professional.

Problem: Trouble Getting New Customers

Getting your first few sales feels great. It lets you know that people are interested in what you have to offer. However, what many new business owners will find is that obtaining new customers and building a client base can prove challenging. For many small companies, they become dependent on a few key clients to stay afloat. While these few customers may be helping you to get by now, at any moment they could decide to take their business elsewhere leaving you in the hole.

Solution:

The key to avoiding becoming dependent on a few clients to cover your expenses is to diversify your client base. This means to accumulate more customers who are equally as interested in your brand. Though there are a lot of ways to go about this one is to expand your outreach in marketing. Marketing is your avenue to reaching your ideal clients. It is imperative that you know your target audience, what their needs are, and what marketing channels (like social media, blogs, websites, emails, etc.) speak best to them. In doing this as well as employing effective marketing strategies you can essentially draw in new business. As the little guy in a huge market, there’s no denying there will be hurdles for you to overcome.

There are challenges that small business face that larger organizations won’t. As a result, you must be creative in coming up with affordable and easy solutions to continually compete with the best in your industry. Though there are a lot of obstacles you’ll have to deal with as an entrepreneur the above-mentioned are some of the most common and important to deal with. Be proactive and begin considering solutions that will reduce your chances of failing.

Those looking to start their own business have to contend with the issue of sourcing for funds for their businesses. Small business owners need funds to acquire office space, raw materials and machinery for their production processes. They also need funds to pay for insurance and many other expenses such as acquiring stationery and office supplies. Without proper funding, startups may fail to take off and the owner’s dream of running their own business dies right there.

Top Funding Options

This is quite frustrating and it is for this reason that business owners strive to find enough funds before launching their businesses. The funding options for small businesses are varied and we will discuss some of them in this piece.

1. Borrowing from Friends and Personal Savings.

Most business owners have relied on their personal savings to set up their businesses. Individuals in fixed employment would put aside some money from their salaries and it is only when they attain their desired target that they will go ahead and establish their businesses. It usually takes longer to collect enough funds to set up a business using this method since there are other urgent bills that individuals have to settle with their salaries as well.

To hasten the process of putting up their businesses, small business owners would borrow money from their friends and relatives to supplement their savings. The benefit of this option when it comes to financing a small business is that you won’t have to pay any interest since you are using your saving and interest-free advances from friends and family members. The disadvantage, however, is that you will have to wait a long time to set up your business as you gather enough funds from your savings.

2. Loans from Financial Institutions

This is the most viable funding options for small businesses. This is because you can acquire as much cash as you need for your business operations and all that you need to do to get a loan is to prove your ability to repay the loan when it is advanced to you. Acquiring loans is much simpler than it was ages ago and you can now get fast loans online without having to visit a physical bank location. The thing with loans is that there are usually no limits as to the amount one can borrow but business owners are advised to take only as much as they can pay off comfortably. This helps them avoid embarrassing situations where office equipment is auctioned off so as to clear business debts.

3. Angel Investors

This is another funding option that is popular with startups. Small business owners who are not able to raise enough cash to set up their businesses can invite a moneyed investor into the fold who will fund the startup for a stake in the business. Such investors are hard to come by and business owners should make sure that they deliver excellent pitches when they get the chance to talk to one about their businesses.

A good business lawyer is a necessity for all businesses, whether you are the only employee or you run a major corporation. You never know what might happen that could land you in legal hot water at some point, so you want to be protected.

Good Business Lawyer

You want to find a lawyer who is well-versed in small businesses and one that has adequate experience. This ensures that your best interests are protected and that you get accurate help and advice when you need it.

Business Structure Advice

When you are first getting started, you have to choose the structure in which you will develop your business. These options are sole proprietorship, LLC, nonprofit, partnership and corporation. It is important to think this through and make sure that you know the pros and cons of each. The structure that you choose will have an impact on your tax obligations, ongoing expenses, personal liabilities, setup fees and even the methods in which you can get funding. An experienced business attorney or advocate, such as Suzzanne Uhland, plays a critical part in this aspect of your small business.

Lawsuit Protection

Lawsuits happen and you do not want your small business to be lost as a result. A lawyer cannot fully protect you against charges, but they might be able to get them reduced. This could decrease your overall liability and make them easier to cope with. As soon as you get notification that you are being sued, this is the time to get your lawyer involved. The process is faster when you already have one, making it a good idea to have one ready to go from the first day you start your business.

Assistance With Employees

There are a number of factors to consider when you hire people to help you to run your business and a lawyer can aid you in sorting this all out. The first decision is whether you want to hire independent contractors or direct employees. Both have specific laws that must be followed so that your business does not get in trouble with the IRS. Also, when you go the route of independent contractors, you need to ensure you have an agreement drafted that outlines their responsibilities.

Help With Contracts

Contracts are a legally binding agreement, so it is important that all of the included terms are what the involved parties agreed to. Your lawyer will understand the language and terms in the contract. This ensures that you are getting exactly what you want and that the other people involved are happy with the agreement. Your lawyer can also help you to draw up standard form contracts. This ensures that they are in compliance with the law.

Negotiations for Your Business

There will be times when you have something to negotiate and you want to make sure that you can do this successfully. Lawyers are experienced in the art of negotiation so they can help you with complex transactions. Once an agreement is made, they can also be beneficial when it comes to writing acquisitions, transferring permits, assessing a value to a business and creating purchase agreement.
This ensures that you are getting fair deals and that the people who you work with to keep your business running are also happy. When everyone is satisfied with an agreement, it paves the way for future business endeavors that are mutually beneficial.

Use this information to see how valuable a lawyer is when you own a small business. As a small company, one issue concerning liability could put you under water. A lawyer may be able to help to ensure that you are able to keep your business even if legal troubles occur.

Image Source

Small Businesses Hurdles

Running a small business is no easy task. There’s a lot to think about when launching a business and during the early stages, when you must keep it afloat. Great challenges are one of the reasons people avoid wanting to be an entrepreneur. It’s an uphill battle, but one many believe is worth fighting.

All businesses run into struggles and failures they need to deal with and mend. Small businesses have their own category of issues to overcome. There are ways to get through the tough times if the right people and attitudes are put into place. See hurdles small businesses commonly face.

Lack of Resources

Small businesses often have tight budgets, especially when they’re starting off. This makes it difficult to hire great talent and keep them around. You must get creative and find people who are willing to invest in you, just as you are in them. You need to be careful not to overload your staff with too much work, or they’ll quit. Improve your processes and systems, so it’s easier for your team to take on more work and get it done quicker.

Disregard for Quality of Work

As you get busy managing a business, it’s common for your quality of work to slip. It often happens without you realizing it. Pay attention to the projects and client work that’s going out the door. Put checks and balances in place to ensure you’re not embarrassing yourselves with mediocre outputs. Never let your quality of work slack for any reason. Always focus on the business image and satisfying your customers. Make a priority list and stick to it.

Lack of Computer Security Knowledge

It’s important you secure your computers and technology in the office. Set strong passwords and load antivirus programs on the computers. Use backup software to ensure you’re able to retrieve your data and files, should there be any accidents or major computer crashes. It’s worth being able to recover lost or damaged files quickly. Educate yourself on a few of the most important requirements that’ll safeguard your business against a cyber attack or hackers.

Tabling Innovation

Being busy isn’t an excuse for abandoning innovation. Your business should always be innovating and coming up with the next best service or product. Always make time for creative brainstorming sessions and ways to improve your business. Pay attention to what the customer wants and their feedback on your current offerings. Never lose that edge to get ahead and be first to come up with a ground-breaking idea.

Fatigue & Stress

Be careful not to overwork yourself to the point of exhaustion. Take breaks throughout the day, exercise and drink lots of water. Keep your mind and body healthy to do your job better. Go on vacations and unplug whenever possible. You’ll feel refreshed when you return to work and will have even better ideas to share.

Conclusion

Managing a business takes patience and perseverance. You can’t let roadblocks stop you from reaching your goals. You must stay focused and determined to get past them. These are hurdles small businesses commonly face.

Grow Your Small Business

Physical retail space is no longer the only way to sell a product. With the ability to sell online with sites or apps like Etsy, owning a store front is no longer strictly necessary to starting a successful small business. There are many ways to grow your new or already existing small business whether its brick and mortar or web-based. While it may be stressful, the time and effort put into the endeavor will prove to be well worth it when you begin to see results.

Hands On

Its vital to know your customer and be able to cater to their unique needs; choose your target audience and really endeavor to connect with them. Forbes insists that a customer first model is the key to a successful business; in this, a small business has a distinct advantage over a larger corporation.More resources are readily available to dedicate to customer interaction. Find ways to show you truly value the time and business of customers, both old and new, to organically create a bond that will have them wanting to make repeat visits.

A good example might be an e-mail list; have them sign up at checkout or give the option to subscribe on your website. Have a weekly newsletter that details new products, sales, events, and any other useful information. In the case of a physical location, you may consider a punch card. Every time a purchase is made, the card is stamped. After a certain number of visits, a discount on the next purchase or some other incentive is offered. Overall, ensure a positive visit with good customer service interactions that will more than pay off in the long run.

Build Community

build community

A good way to build and expand your customer base is by embracing social media. Beyond having a presence on platforms like Twitter and Facebook, consider taking advantage of services like BlueJeans that offer interactive webcasting to reach out in a variety of ways. Consider hosting a live event; involve a few other local businesses if possible.The offer of a combined giveaway is a good way to boost interest and viewership. Thinking of other ways to join up with companies can be mutually beneficial. For example, if you own a bakery with the ability to brew and serve coffee, talk with a local roaster about teaming up and selling bags of their coffee alongside your own creations.

Outside Help

It isn’t necessarily possible to be all things to all people. Think of where you may be lacking, then think of who you know. Want fliers to help boost foot traffic? Looking to set up a more professional looking web page? Hoping to optimize your existing site’s functionality?Just need some extra help running the counter if you have a store front? Entrepreneur recommends “freeing up cash flow” by bringing in others part time (which will also help you develop a network). From freelance artists to your sister’s teenaged kids, don’t underestimate the value of bringing in help and utilizing the talents of others. This not only gives you a little extra help but someone to bounce ideas off as well.Don’t allow stress to overwhelm you; you set the tone for your business. Let it be a good one.

With some savvy thinking and flexibility, you’ll be on the path to growing your business in no time. Whether you have a physical location or will be selling product through an online venue, there are steps you can take to spur sales and interest; remain hands on where you can and take every opportunity to build community. Remember to seek out and accept help to help reduce the stress of possibly taking on too many tasks at once. Even if it takes time, the end result will be worth the work.

Media courtesy Pixabay

Take Your Business Beyond the Borders

It is every business owner’s dream to see his or her business grow beyond their own shores, but this dream has many challenges. You not only have to deal with language barrier and time differences, you also need to adapt a different business model. In order for the business to sustain itself globally, you need to implement a policy where each member of staff fully understands your brand – this is the bottom-up approach that will enable you to implement critical developments that are constant across different cultures.

Fortunately, the Internet and digital revolution have significantly demystified going global for small businesses. With just a single button, you can make your services and products available in hundreds of countries at once – the possibilities of conducting global businesses are now almost infinite. However, achieving this task does require significant input in terms of focused energy and hard work.

Here are four strategies you should keep in mind.

1. Conquer Similar Markets

When taking your business global, start by making smaller steps. The best thing to do is research the markets in the countries you are interested in expanding to. Products or services may not have the same appeal to everyone, and that is why you should start working with markets that are similar to the one you are currently operating in.

Take the time to travel to the country you want to sell your products in. This way you will get a chance to observe, first hand, their social behaviors and business customs.

2. Expand Your Vision

Today, more and more companies are now looking to expand in the emerging markets such as Asia. These markets are among the fastest growing economies, which are offering businesses with new opportunities for global expansion. For example, Singapore is rated as the second best business hub in the world.

Some of the reasons why Singapore ranks so highly are because of its social and economic indicators like livability, demographics, ease of conducting business and technological readiness. Through these indicators, more businesses looking into global expansion are now regarding Singapore as a hotspot and the ultimate gateway to Southeast Asia. A study will help you determine whether your enterprise will find an environment where it can thrive in specific cities around the world.

3. Hire Multi-Lingual Employees

Going beyond the borders means that you might have to work with some businesses abroad. This mainly pertains to companies that will carry out your marketing and delivery services. This will require regular meetings – mostly online and can be conducted via a PC and a projection screen where both parties can see each other for products that may require demonstration.

In such a situation, a bilingual employee would come in handy to talk to your new partners in their native language. This is especially critical if you choose to focus on just a few specific countries. Your employee may hold the meetings on your behalf or they can simply translate during a meeting.

4. Make Payment Procedures Easy for Customers

Most people do not like to order products from abroad taking into consideration the payment process, which may be difficult. So if you are looking to go global, offer your prospective and current customers several alternative payment methods. This helps in making the payment process much easier, increasing chances of more foreign customers purchasing your product.

Doing this will also go a long way in bringing you some loyal customers beyond the boundaries. Plus, you have an edge over your competitors who only offer clients credit card-only payment processes.

Implementing these strategies will make taking your business to the global arena easier. You not only receive international traffic to your website, but also have well-thought out ways of handling international sales quickly and securely.

Local Plumber For Your Small Business

You have multiple options when it comes to hiring a plumber to come and tackle your plumbing issues, but the only option you should consider is one local to your business or home. If you have to ask yourself the question “Why would I want to hire plumbers near me?” you may want to have a look at the following benefits of doing so.

1. Emergency Callouts Are Completed Quicker

Hiring a plumber right on your doorstep provides many benefits to your company. If, for example, you ever had an emergency plumbing job that needed to be completed quickly so you can open for business for the day, you can be sure hiring a local plumber is going to be your best chance of getting the job done quickly.

2. Local People Will Be Able to Recommend Their Services

Finding a reliable plumber isn’t always an easy task, but if you hire a local company you can be certain of their reliability as there will be plenty of positives about their work from local people and businesses. Researching the plumber will be a lot easier if they are local, and if they are a bigger company you will be able to go to their offices to discuss matters if needs be.

3. You Will Get a Cheaper Service

The problem when hiring an out-of-town plumbing service is that you will most likely have to pay extra costs in terms of fuel and time. If plumbers only live around the corner from your business you will find it a much more cost-effective solution for your small business.

4. You Will Be Able to Form a Better Relationship with Your Plumber

Forming a good relationship with your plumber may not sound important, but it is an important step to take when you run your own small business. Forming good relationships is one of the key aspects in running a successful business and even taking the same step with your plumber could see your business get more clients. It’s not going to be as easy to form a good relationship with an out-of-town plumber, which is why hiring a local one could be the better option.

5. More Clients for Your Business is Always a Possibility

Just because your plumber is your plumber doesn’t mean they aren’t going to be interested in the products and services you have on offer. As stated above, if you can form a good relationship with your plumber there is nothing to suggest that they wouldn’t be able to recommend your products or services to people they know.

There is nothing wrong in hiring a commercial plumbing business that is situated 50 miles away, but the above shows that hiring a local plumber will provide many additional benefits. If you take your business seriously and you don’t want the fuss of hiring contractors from different states, get in touch with your local plumber today to see if you can come to some contractual agreement that includes emergency callouts.

Images via Pixabay