Monday, May 16, 2011

BOOST O2 | BUSINESS | > 5 Challenges Every Small Business Owner Faces

I am sure that you have heard that small businesses are the backbone of our economy; and it's true. Some 98.6% of all businesses are considered small, so they're significant. And let's not forget: every large business was, at one point, small.

Here are five challenges small business owners face:

1. Staffing

How can small businesses attract and afford the best talent? This is tough, because larger firms and even the not-for-profit sector and government might dispense better benefits and even compensation. So the small business has to sell potential employees on the fact that they'll gain experience, get hands-on training, and see more growth possibilities with their company. I believe that if you create a good culture in your business you will attract the right people to you. Employing staff can be quite challenging, but when you get the formula right then it’s amazing.

2. Leadership & Management Skills

Most small business owners are great at some tasks, whether it's cost containment, niche marketing, or creative skill. But they tend to not have formal training in how to manage their business, or what to do, strategically, to make them better and to get their people to perform better. If you want to grow your business you must be the best leader, and your team will then follow you by example. I never expect anyone on my team to do anything that I would not be willing to do, so when the not so glamorous jobs are there I will step in and do them if needed. This type of management leads by example and stops the tall poppy syndrome in the small business culture.

3. Sales

Every business can use more sales, and as one of my clients said, there are few problems in business that can't be fixed with a few more sales! Even if you’re great at selling, you probably don’t have enough time and probably wear too many hats to focus on taking the business where you want it to go. Sales are one of the most important things that a business should focus on. Income producing activity is what pays the bills. Working on sales and sales training is a must for all businesses. If you're too busy to do it yourself then get a sales trainer in to do it for you.

4. Training

Without a capacity to train new employees quickly and efficiently, businesses can't grow. Too little effort is put into the training of staff, and there is too little investment as well. Think about the consequences if you’re not investing in training for yourself and your team…Training your team is vital to the growth of your business; it keeps your team involved and motivated to stay with your company and most importantly productive enough to keep your business growing.

5. Change Management

Because of its size, the small business owner should, theoretically, be able to change quickly, but it is more resistant than many companies hundreds of times its size. It is especially slow to abandon products that no longer contribute to profits, but that are held in esteem because "they put us on the map!" Monitoring and manageing productivity of your business is vital to the success and growth of your business. One thing that small business owners do that is crutial to their success is act like a small business…. What I mean is that if they ran their business like a large company but on a smaller scale their success would be much greater, role modelling a successful business model could just be the missing link.
These problems are not by any means insurmountable. They can and should be addressed with the help of coaches, consultants, and others who can be brought in on a project basis.Using outsourced resourses can save you time and money in the long run.
There is a sixth challenge small business owners face; it’s the willingness to ask for help! Lots of business owners think that by asking for help they will be judged. That’s simply not the case. Asking for help when needed is simply good business practice.
Successful people love to help others and share their experiences. My thoughts are if you don’t ask you will never know what the outcome would be. The worst case scenario is a negative response from the person you are asking help from. I don’t think that’s too bad. Just keep asking and eventually you will get the help or advise that you need. If someone has achieved what you wish to achieve then it's possible to duplicate it and do it easily. I am always getting emails and calls from people for advice and I am happy to help any way that I can. Just remember there is always help if you want it!

Angie O'Shannessy is a national master coach at The Small Business Gurus, and specialises in marketing and business growth.
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