Times are tough for small businesses. Starting a business may be a big enough challenge already, but maintaining it over the years is another game entirely. Product based small businesses can be especially unforgiving, especially in today’s climate where markets are extremely over-saturated. Some of the standard challenges of this include keeping customer acquisition costs low, managing capital, and – we think most importantly! – setting aside time for yourself.
Let’s dive into some of the major bottlenecks product-based businesses face, and learn how to plow through them with ease.
The work, the hours, and the constant pressure to perform eventually takes its toll on even the most passionate person. Being a small business owner, it is natural to be tempted to do everything yourself. Fatigue, therefore, is often one of the most ignored small business challenges. It can leave you unfocused, disorganized, vulnerable to making rash decisions, and even cranky. Furthermore, the fear that your business is going to stall in your absence keeps you from taking any time away from work to recharge.
This can be especially daunting for product-based businesses, because organizing the production, logistics, and sales of a physical product can often be a lot more complex than offering a simple service. In addition to the people management aspect of the latter, the former also forces you to get a good sense of manufacturing processes, foreign laws on production and export, and to have robust quality standards in place so your product is always as advertised.
Getting your small business to a pace that keeps it progressing, without grinding down the owner, can be a massive challenge. You can start off by highlighting business elements that don’t need your expertise, like cold-calling customers, or designing a website. The next step, of course, is to reach out for help. You could hire freelancers or try to find a cheaper deal at local hobby groups or online listings. Of course, it is worth saying that if you don’t have a certain set of skills, you’re better off assigning some tasks to specialists like legal experts or accountants. You will definitely thank yourself for the more professional results later!
2. Money Management
Money issues in different forms happen to top the list of new-business problems. Particularly for small businesses, the major worries usually include unexpected outgoings, clients stalling payments, and outstanding bills that can’t wait to be paid. In order to deal with this problem, small business owners need to be able to have some extra income to fill in the cash reserves when needed or simply be heavily capitalized. This is the reason many small business owners work and build their businesses at the same time.
You can deal with the cash flow problems by keeping strict track of your money, where is it going and where it is coming from. There are many money management tools that can help you to automate bill payments, multi-functional apps that can create budgets and alert you regarding any unusual outgoings. And then there are online invoices that can convince your clients to make payments.
3. Staying Passionate
If you are not passionate about what you are doing, sooner or later your business is going to shut down. It is crucial more than ever to be obsessed and be all into the product based business you have started. Otherwise, the quality of your product is not going to be up to the mark. You will be giving your customers shoddy experience forcing them to choose another brand.
This makes obsession a very critical point. When you are obsessed, working 13 to 15 hours in a day wouldn’t be a mountainous task for you. Without that passion and obsession, you will just let your small business go down the drain rather than fight for it to stay upright. Working towards making your small business progress becomes an uphill struggle in the absence of passion. You just don’t have that spark and zeal in you to continue to keep it moving forward. Think twice before starting a business and make sure you sell a product that you are actually passionate about.
4. Finding And Retaining Profitable Customers
They are right when they say you need to find customers with a problem that only you have a solution to. It is on you to identify that unique selling point of your product and communicate it to your potential customers. You can begin by doing some research on your customer base and highlight the characteristics of your existing best customers. Don’t forget to add any costs associated with particular customers so that you know their net value.
As soon as you are done with it, just put in all your efforts and energies on attracting new clients from this profitable segment. Evaluate your offer carefully and make sure it directly appeals to this kind of customer. You can also ask for feedback from your existing best clients to understand what they really want. Ask them about the social media platforms they use and make sure you are a part of it.
5. Staying Current
Small business owners are so busy lifting up their business that they simply forget to keep up with what is current in their industry. It is already so time-consuming to remain on top of all the work that thinking out of the box may seem like an extra burden. Nonetheless, you need to remain updated. Whenever you schedule your week, remember to put aside some time to track your competitors and make yourself aware of what is new in the market you are dealing with.
Use Twitter hashtags to know what is trending, create Google alerts, and dig out free and targeted online information on different websites. Furthermore, if you can take out some time to be a part of exhibitions and conferences related to your industry, remember payback in terms of potential sales and contacts can be huge. Remain on the lookout for attending events that are going to have your target clients and target audience.
There is nothing worse than starting a small business without thinking about the challenges you might face. We have considered some of the major challenges to make them easier for you to deal with but you can’t avoid them. Every challenge is yet another opportunity for you to compete. With tenacity and forethought, there is no challenge that you cannot overcome.
Author Bio: Kiran Ajaz is a technical writer and publisher at EZOfficeInventory, which offers an event equipment management software for SMBs, mid-sized businesses, enterprises and more. She is a guest writer and an MBA graduate. Kiran is enthusiastic about the way technology interacts with contemporary businesses and enables them to focus on core efficiencies.
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