No one knows how challenging it is to manage a small business like a small business owner. That’s even more true of the small businesses that survived the pandemic. Many did not. But there’s no consolation prize, and challenges to exist. This post outlines five difficulties faced by small businesses and ways companies may approach them.
Whether your business provides solutions to other businesses or provides goods or services to consumers, you won’t get far without customers. Creating your business, you knew your target market. So where are they? It’s likely they’re out there, and they just don’t know you’re out there.
Examine your current marketing and outreach process. What are you doing to boost your name recognition? Can you squeeze digital advertising into your budget? Are there local events that you can sponsor? It can also help to compare your current efforts with your competitors, or other businesses of your size. What are they doing that you know your business can also do?
Feeling good with the few customers you have? While it’s nice to have a dependable level of work, you don’t want to be left in a scramble if they drop their patronage. Always keep your door open to new customers and opportunities.
Companies are relying more and more on their digital presence for name recognition and outreach. Having a website and social media pages is one thing. Being active with both is another. Engaging with past, current and potential customers online can be fairly low cost. Set up email lists and grow them with giveaways. Find a way to share content that they’ll engage with. It may be hard to tie customer growth directly to your web presence, but using social media wisely can certainly grow your name recognition.
Simply sharing news articles relevant to your industry and customers can be a great starting place for your social media accounts.
Some things an owner can do on their own. Some they just can’t. And some, they could but don’t really want to. When hiring, it’s important to know what your company needs most next. Sometimes that’s an easy decision. When it isn’t, look into areas that require expertise. How would your company benefit from a new hire in one of these positions?
Figuring out who to hire is only one half of the equation and the hiring process requires considerable effort. Consider the role, how it might grow with the company and create a job posting that details what you’re looking for. Don’t be afraid to look at listings for similar positions to get your bearings. When it comes to the interview, know what you’re looking for in a candidate and be prepared to answer their questions about the business.
While we are in “The Great Resignation” keeping employees can be just as difficult as trying to find new employees. Salaries certainly play a role in decision-making, but similarly impactful is any company’s stance on remote work. Even meeting in the middle with a hybrid-remote work model can boost employee engagement. Companies that can offer this to employees should certainly do so. However, just by the nature of their business, some companies aren’t able to leverage this as a benefit.
Reimbursement can also be a large benefit to employers and employees. People using personal devices for business reasons should be compensated fairly. Companies that can offer this benefit will see higher engagement and retention.
Doing well as a small business can be measured in achievements: first hire, 100th customer, quitting your 9 to 5 to go full time. But once those early milestones pass, the future is full of choices. With surplus funds, you can expand in any number of ways. Do you want to put more into the product? More into your team? More into your outreach efforts?
Every business is going to be different, and the right decision may change seasonally. Just beware of over-extending your business and creating holes for yourself. There’s also value in the perspective of the experienced. Look to other small business owners in the area if you’re stuck puzzling over your next move.
Perhaps the biggest difficulties faced by small businesses surround finances. Some businesses rely on funding from investors. Others, foot traffic of the day-to-day consumer. When profit-margins are razor thin, owners look for cuttable expenses in the budget. Again, those areas are going to depend on the business.
Take, for example, companies that depend on vehicle travel for their business. Employers may have purchased vehicles for their employees to drive, or provide them with a monthly allowance intended to cover the price of driving. Both of these vehicle programs, fleet and car allowance, are opportunities for cost control. Employers using a Fixed and Variable Rate reimbursement can remove unnecessary travel spend and reimburse employees fairly and accurately. That’s money that can go back into the business.
Most owners are all too aware of the difficulties faced by small businesses. The problem compounds itself as there are only so many people and so much time in the day. Being able to trust outside organizations to help with the management of any portion of the business, and with a return on investment, may sound too good to be true. But that’s precisely what Motus can do for your vehicle program. Interested in learning more?