Have you ever heard a business owner saying that running a business is very easy?
I am sure you haven’t!
Have you ever thought, why?
You see, running a business and especially a small business is very complex and challenging.
It requires self-discipline, passion and determination to survive against the problems and challenges that come with running a business.
And when you overcome this hardship of business challenges and adapted the lifestyle you become an Entrepreneur.
The COVID-19 pandemic is, indeed, something that we have never experienced. No one could have predicted the scale of the outbreak or the effect it would have on the world economy.
Businesses all over the world have had to adapt to changed circumstances and consumer behaviors and find new opportunities in times of crisis. This required a lot of innovation, creativity and the development of new business models.
To increase your survival rate as a business owner you need to overcome some of the common challenges that every small business face or will face in 2021.
So today in this episode I have decided to discuss them one by one and show you the way to overcome these challenges.
Shall we begin?
Alright! Let’s talk about the first challenge every small business face:
Maintaining an Online Presence
Creating an online presence is one thing but what’s more important is to maintain it.
It is more important than ever in the current scenario to invest time, effort, and resources into building an online presence for your small business.
Unfortunately, some small businesses fail to realize that. They choose to spend their limited funds on unnecessary things rather than on building a strong online presence and digital marketing. They don’t realize that they have to adapt to the “new way of doing business”.
As the world slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, think of Amazon they emerged as one of the biggest winners. They started thinking about the new way of doing business not years, but decades ago, right?
When the world was stuck at home during lockdowns, e-commerce sales surged. Amazon was able to take advantage of the situation because they were prepared for it and became the company whose market value gained the most from the crisis.
Some businesses create their online presence just for the sake of it. They never post new articles, pictures, videos or anything. They never reply to their customer’s comments or feedback and they never update their website.
As a small business, you simply cannot afford to be inactive and invisible online.
So how can a new business owner overcome this challenge?
First, start by creating a website…and make sure it’s a good one. Because a bad website will do more harm than good.
Even if your business is not an eCommerce business, like a cafe or a salon, you still need a website as the main way to establish your online presence.
Your website must provide customers with important information related to your business, like information about your products or services, your prices and opening hours, etc.
With the help of a website, you can begin to establish yourself as an industry expert by publishing unique content through your blog.
A website is also a great way to generate new leads with the help of chatbots and contact forms.
Some things to keep in mind while creating a website –
- Make sure that you have up to date and relevant content on your website.
- It must have strong visual imagery. And your website must be mobile friendly with fast loading speed.
- Also make sure that your contact information is correct and visible, because it may be the first point of contact for many new customers to your business.
Next maintain your social media handles and focus on the things that will drive sales,
Social media will help you build relationships with customers, and increase awareness of your brand.
But make sure you only choose those social media platforms that are most popular with your target demographic.
Choose the correct type of content that you post. For example, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are more visual, whereas Facebook and Twitter are perfect for short, attention-grabbing text and images.
Try not to share the same content across all of the social media platforms that you are active on.
Lack of Marketing
One of the major challenges faced by small businesses is a lack of proper marketing.
Business owners know they need to market their business to reach people and remain visible to their target audience.
But, unless, they suddenly see a drop in sales, they spend their time on operational tasks and will struggle to find the time to do any marketing at all.
Several researchers say that around 50% of small business owners handle the marketing efforts on their own. And because they are not skilled marketers they struggle to track their return on investment and understand whether their marketing activities are effective.
Large companies have entire departments devoted to digital marketing, but small businesses often struggle to keep up with all the ways the Internet can help—and hurt—business.
So, how can you conquer marketing challenges and successfully market your business? The good news is marketing challenges can most often be solved with a little planning and effort.
First, create a marketing plan. In the marketing plan determine your marketing goals.
Your marketing goals can be for example – increasing your brand visibility and generating quality leads for your business.
Now, define your marketing strategies that will help achieve your goals.
Define your customer and do competitive analysis then accordingly focus on strategies like content marketing, offline marketing, Local marketing, word-of-mouth, influencer marketing etc.
Be practical about what you can and cannot do based on your resource constraints.
Finally, outline what activities you will use within each strategy. Figure out which ones make sense for your target audience and will work for you in terms of resources.
Some more tips:
- Create a content calendar and an action plan and be active on social media.
- Only focus on the target audience to avoid wastage of the marketing budget.
- If possible outsource your marketing activities to experts
- Keeping up with trends and technology
- Always have a proper Call to action
Finding and Retaining Profitable Customers and Competition
In my last podcast episode, I have talked about the reasons why customers buy any product or services.
I have explained in that episode how customers purchasing decisions are influenced by their drives and problems.
So you need customers with a problem only you can solve, and it’s for you to identify that USP (unique selling point) and communicate it clearly to your customers.
But the problem is Small businesses are not aware of their USPs, and those who are; don’t know how to use them to their advantage and reach the prospects to increase their customer base.
Surprisingly, they don’t even know how these USPs can help them stand out from their competitors.
With other companies offering a similar service to yours, how do you stay competitive in a crowded marketplace?
Get intimate with your company’s unique differentiators and value proposition rather than focus on your competition.
Remove yourself from the market that competes on price and quality, and focus on innovating your unique product or service, and customer intimacy.
To achieve true customer satisfaction so that your customers become promoters of your business, you must surpass expectations and deliver an unmatched experience.
Remember it’s a battle of perception, focus, and marketing. Business owners who master these and provide a great customer experience will always win the sale.
It’s important to understand what customers want and to know that you can ask for feedback from current clients.
Find out what forums or other types of social media these customers use and make sure you’re in there and taking notes.
Hiring Talented People
Employee recruitment and retention can be one of the biggest challenges of owning a business.
On the surface hiring people looks easy, send out a job description, screen applicants, and make a decision.
But it’s much more complicated because most of the challenges faced by a small business owner cannot be overcome without a great team. It’s the great employees that will help your business get to the next level.
So, never settle for average employees when you can find great ones, even if it takes longer and you will have to pay more.
Just like you pick your customers to target using their persona, pick candidates whose persona will be a good fit for your company. Its also important that there is a presence of shared values in the workplace and open communication between yourself and your employees.
You can retain your talent by providing recognition and reward systems.
Fostering teamwork and mentorship programs and promoting a culture of work-life balance within the company can also go a long way.
Lack of funds
In a survey, nearly 67 per cent of current small business owners reported lack of capital as a top challenge.
More resources increase ability, efficiency, and quality. Unfortunately, access to many of these resources comes through having capital which can be easy for large companies to generate but for small businesses, it’s the biggest challenge.
Capital needs for every type of business vary but you should use business credit wisely, cut costs where possible, and manage cash flow by staying on top of invoices and bookkeeping.
One other thing I learned from one of my favourite books Rework is
When you are a starting up, having fewer funds is a good thing because you learn to be creative and make use of what you have. And when you decide to spend your precious fund only spend on things that are of at most importance.
But, how do you know what is important? Start at the epicentre. Ask yourself “if I took this away, would my product still exist?” “Will my business still be successful?” if it does, then great focus on making this the best it can be with the given resources you have available.
Also, make sure you get help from Business accountants or financial advisors.
Because they can help you analyze your financial situation and help you make better decisions.
So, guys, this brings us to the end of our today’s episode. If you liked it or learned anything from it or have any queries make sure you let me know. I will be very happy to hear.
I will talk to you in the next one.
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