The challenges facing small businesses these days are numerous and while there is a mountain of opportunities with accessibility to worldwide markets through the use of technology there are also challenges. Legal requirements and compliance, increasing specializations in every industry together with intense competition and the shrinking of margins that go with that, in order to compete.
There are a lot of considerations and you need to be on top of your game right throughout your business. Because more than 69% of all small businesses in New Zealand have ‘zero’ employees, that means in many cases one person (the owner) is juggling with all parts of their business.
The biggest challenges for small business.
- For businesses starting out often funds are limited. Unless you have been savvy, have a perfectly crafted business plan that you’ve presented to your bank or to investors, you are no doubt starting with your own precious savings or in a lot of cases none at all so everything needs to stretch a long way.
- The business owner while an expert in providing a service or knowledgeable of the product they are selling, doesn’t necessarily have the expertise in all areas of running or managing a business. For example in finance, marketing, legal knowledge or management skills.
- Technology changes frequently making systems obsolete and brings challenges of integration. Also, the technical challenges of backups, emails and networking computers.
- Compliance with tax and administrative tasks can be time-consuming and takes you away from your core business.
- Knowing when to make your first hire and then getting the right personnel on board, that are skilled, affordable and the right cultural fit.
- Growing a business takes considerable time, effort and the financial rewards often don’t come fast enough.
So how do small businesses cope with these challenges? In New Zealand, one thing that goes in our favour as Kiwis is that we are known for being resourceful and highly adaptable. Resourcefulness is often is not as highly valued as it should be in a world where we have ready access to technology and a lot of things at our fingertips, however, the ability to adapt and be innovative is one of the best-kept business secrets around. Searching online for information, resources and expertise has never been as accessible as it is now.
Maximizing from available business resources.
- There are many tools and site available, where you can access people and resources. Freelancer.com is a site where you can post jobs for freelancers who specialize in different areas. MBIE offers templates for business plans. Business mentors for a fee can help guide you through the start-up process. Similarly, there are marketing plan templates available as a starting block to get you asking the right questions around framing your campaigns.
- To make that dollar stretch further, get informed as you can be. There are a lot of resources out there for small businesses. If you work from home and feeling isolated utilizing a business co-working space to meet other small business owners, collaborate and share ideas is a good way to go. Saving money on advertising, ads can initially be placed in small local papers. A must do for all businesses is to ensure you have claimed your Google My Business listing. This gets you visible on the search engines and can add photos.
- Have good systems. Some software tools don’t necessarily cost you anything. There are spreadsheets for accounting, time tracking templates, free marketing, CRM tools such as Hubspot.
- Leverage everything you do. If you’re doing something for a client for the first time, take notes that you can refer to and think about how to create a system, to make it easier the next time.
- Maximize every opportunity. When starting out, you’re pushed for time you start to have the mindset that you’re only productive when you’re sitting at your computer – producing work. Not so!! Business is about people, and about a relationship and meeting their needs. When you’re out, you meet people, their first question to you is “what do you do?” Be prepared for what they call the ‘elevator pitch’, summarizing what you do in 20 – 30 seconds, in a way that is authentic but draws your listener’s attention. Also, give people your full attention take the time to listen. Engage and finding out what’s happening in their world. You may or not be of help to them, but they could know someone who does.
- Collaborate. There are plenty of other people out there like you who have the skills that you don’t have. Be a part of a small business group and find them and see how you can work together to help each other grow.
If you’re going it alone take heart, take each day at a time. Perhaps the largest barrier you’re having to face is your belief in your ability to make things work. Try to have good people around you, those that encourage you and then any obstacle you face. Remembering the reasons why you started your business journey is always a strong motivator and is often your unique selling point.