In the first few years associated with business, small companies show up against a lot of different challenges. A few are harder than others to overcome — and according to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20% of small businesses fail by the end of their first year. By the end of their fifth year, 50% go under; and by the tenth year, that number rises to 80%.
With survival rates like that, it’s easy to understand why folks face the first few years of business with trepidation. But in fact, many typical business problems and difficulties are actually fixable. Many times, you will discover you need to take a step back, take time to understand the pain points you’re feeling, and re-think your strategy.
Here are several challenges every single small business faces, along with several tactical advice about how to repair them.
1 . Finding Clients
This first one isn’t only a small business problem. The internet marketers at well-known companies such as Apple and Toyota plus McDonald’s don’t just sit around waiting for the results in come in: Even the biggest, most successful companies have people working hard every single day to find new clients.
But for small businesses that normally are not a household name, finding customers can be particularly difficult. For instance , there seem to be so many channels you can choose to focus on… How can you know what to prioritize and where to allocate resources?
Learn how to Fix It:
Finding customers starts with figuring how whom your ideal customer actually is. Spraying and praying doesn’t work for anybody — you need to make certain you’re spreading the word towards the right people.
Craft a concept of what your focus on customers look like, what they do, exactly where they spend time online because they build your buyer personas.
Producing very specific ones can dramatically improve your business outcomes. Once you’ve built your purchaser personas, you can start creating content and getting in front of your focus on customers in the places they spend time online and with the messages that they care about.
2 . Improving Brand Awareness
If your clients don’t know who you are, they can’t buy from you.
It can sometimes appear to be today’s biggest brands seemed to have popped up from nowhere. How did they will become a household name? How did they grow that will quickly? Can your business develop like that, too?
Of course , many of these companies’ hard work, failures, and rejections happened behind the scenes. But there are strategies for spreading the term about your brand plus building a great reputation that you can start right away.
How to Repair it:
There are many ways to spread brand awareness, but the three Factors . touch on here are PR, co-marketing, and blogging.
- PAGE RANK: Public relations will be less about paying for an area in a news blog, and much more about focusing your tone of voice and finding your place in the market. I recommend reading this great article from FirstRound Capital on which startups and small businesses usually get wrong about PR, which also includes some good, tactical tips on how to figure out whoms covering your industry, constructing relationships, and working with reporters. You can also download our free public relations kit to learn ways to maximize your public relations efforts with inbound marketing and social networking.
- Co-marketing: Partnering with another brand name will help you inherit some of their picture and reputation and create brand name evangelists outside your circle. It’s a fantastic way to obtain a large volume of new connections alongside your organic marketing and advertising efforts. You can read our e-book on how to get started with co-marketing for further helpful information.
- Blogging: Running a consistently top quality blog will also help you create brand awareness. Not only really does a blog help drive traffic to your website and transform that traffic into prospective customers, but it also helps you establish power in your industry and rely on among your prospects. They’ll also help you build an email list, which brings us to the next point…
3. Building an Email List
In order to move potential clients along their buyer’s trip to eventually become your customer, you need to build trust by staying top of mind and providing value consistently.
That starts with getting prospects into your email list.
As if it’s not hard enough to build an email list, the average marketing database degrades by about 22. 5% every year.
That means you have to improve your email list by almost a quarter to just maintain this, never mind grow this. It’s the marketing team’s job to find ways to constantly include fresh, new email connections to your lists.
But what many people call “building a message list” is actually buying an email list — and buying a message list is never a good suggestion. I repeat: Never a good suggestion. Not only will your email deliverability and IP status be harmed, but it is also a waste of money. In case your current strategy is to rent or buy email lists, then it’s time for you to regroup and find better locations to put those resources.
The right way to Fix It:
Instead of buying or renting lists, build explicit opt-in email lists. An opt-in e-mail list is made up of subscribers who seem to voluntarily give you their email address so you can send them emails.
The act of opting in necessitates website features that captures their current email address. This can be achieved with a form builder or other conversion tool (more on that will later).
The other piece of the puzzle is creating demand. You can do this by creating great blog content and which makes it easy for people to subscribe — which, at the same time, will help you increase your online presence, build up research authority, and create evangelists from your content.
You can also revive older listings that you think are mostly corroded by creating an engaging opt-in message and delivering it to your old checklist encouraging contacts who wish to re-opt-in and promising to remove many contacts who don’t react.
Growing your email checklist doesn’t necessarily translate into growing your list of sales-qualified leads, which usually brings me to my following point…
4. Lead Generation
One more problem most small businesses reveal is lead generation — particularly, generating enough leads to keep the sales team happy.
But generating leads that are both high quantity and high quality is really a marketing team’s most important goal. A successful lead generation engine is what turns website visitors into prospective customers and provides a steady stream associated with sales prospects while you sleep.
Tips on how to Fix It:
To make the lead generation process work for your business, you need to very first optimize your existing web site for conversions. Your website is the most important tool you have for switching prospects into customers. Look through your website and ask yourself:
- Do all of your webpages clearly information visitors to take action, or do they leave them asking yourself what to do next?
- Do you work with a tool that automatically brings the submissions from your forms and puts them into the contact database, like HubSpot’s free lead generation tool?
- Have you been creating custom landing pages for every single campaign that you simply run?
- Do you have lead generation CTAs on each of your blog blogposts? (Do you have a blog whatsoever? )
Prioritize the most popular pages on the website first. Most businesses have a few, specific webpages that bring in the majority of their traffic — often the website, “About” page, “Contact Us” page, and maybe one or two of the most popular blog posts. Read this blog post to learn how to figure out which pages to prioritize, and how to optimize them.
After that, implement conversion tools such as:
- Hello bars
Lastly, be sure to take advantage of free direct management software and apps with regard to startups. Affording marketing in general is a big challenge within and of itself, so finding and implementing the most strong free marketing tools could be a game changer.
5. Delighting Customers
Customer satisfaction is a great goal, but customer delight is better still. After all, delighted customers are the ones who buy from a person again, write testimonials and agree to case studies, plus refer you to people they will know.
In order to achieve genuine customer delight so that your clients become promoters of your business, you must surpass expectations and deliver an unmatched encounter.
How to Fix It:
It takes work to continue solving for the customer in a way that turns all of them into raving fans. Here are some steps get you in the right mindset:
- Understand why your customers select you and what they need
- Arranged concrete expectations at the start of the engagement
- Deliver on individuals expectations (and satisfy your own customers’ needs)
- Innovate how you can provide unexpected extras that go above and beyond
- Continue to measure fulfillment and improve the customer encounter
6. Hiring Talented People
Nothing of the above can happen at range without a fantastic team that will understands your vision plus supports your efforts.
Hiring is usually one of the biggest challenges for smaller businesses, especially since small business executives tend to feel under-resourced to start with. Hiring new employees is really a big deal and a complex process, and the cost of onboarding is an average of over $4, 000 per new employee for most companies. And if a person hire well, employee turnover can be very, very expensive.
But , as CEO of 2020 On-site Optometry Howard Bernstein mentioned, it’s impossible to know everything your self. That’s why finding and hiring the right people — as well as the people who are really excited about what you’re doing — matters.
How to Fix It:
It’s easy to hire with a short-term attitude: send out a job description, screen applicants, and make a decision. Yet because of the high costs of hiring right, it’s important to invest a significant amount of time in the employing process. Don’t settle for good employees when you can find great ones, even if it takes longer. It’s the great employees that will help your company get to the next level.
Exactly like you create buyer personas for your customers, create candidate personas for your job candidates. Your own personas should be different for every new role that you’re hiring for, but can share some underlying traits around company culture.
Following, take ownership of attracting candidates to your company’s brand and make them interested in learning more. This will help you create a recruiting pipeline that will give hiring the same predictability because sales. Then, turn all those leads into applicants.
7. Managing Workflow
Once you have the individuals in place to make the magic happen, the next challenge is handling workflow as you scale. You wish to ensure that your team has the processes and tools to do good work and do it efficiently.
At the same time, you can’t be everywhere at once as a company leader. So how do you focus on the business while ensuring that everyone working in the business has what they need?
How to Fix It:
How one can diagnose the roadblocks your team faces and boost efficiency is by creating ways for them to provide feedback. This can be done through:
- Employee satisfaction surveys
- Frequent one-on-one meetings with direct reports
- Ensuring your direct reviews implement one-on-one meetings with their direct reports
- Occasional skip-level meetings
- Asking about threats to the business and the problems that give them the most “pain” in their roles
- Finding the commonalities in the feedback you receive and the bottlenecks
7. Financial Planning
In theory, more resources (whether it’s people, tools, or time) enhance efficiency and quality. Producing smooth operations starts by providing all the resources you can to your team.
It sounds basic in theory, but did you see the caveat, all… you can ? Sadly, business leaders have budget restrictions based on revenue and margin.
It, then, becomes a challenge to improve performance while working within certain limitations, investing in your business with no over-spending outside your indicates. This is solved by making great decisions based on solid financial planning.
How to Fix It:
Every business will be different, yet you’ll want to use business credit score wisely, cut costs where achievable, and manage cash flow simply by staying on top of invoices plus bookkeeping. Business accountants and financial advisors can help you evaluate your financial situation and help you make good decisions.
“There’s this mix of creating scalability early, versus carrying out what you have to do to get everything done, ” according to Computer chip Rellas, co-founder and TOP DOG of Drizly.
This is a difficult one, especially since each situation is different. You’ll see this issue arise in all areas of business: in product development, in marketing and content creation, in hiring, and so on.
For example , many business professionals will push growth at any cost. But if you grow your business too quickly, you’ll find yourself needing to hire quickly. This can whelm your experienced team members because it takes a while to train individuals. And if you don’t train individuals well, it can end up backfiring.
How to Fix It:
Unfortunately, there is perfect answer here. “Depending where you are in your business’ lifecycle, ” says Rellas, “the scale will tip one of the ways or the other, but I think you need both at different times. ”
What it comes down to is not obsessing over every detail, but obsessing over the right details. Obsessing over item perfection, for example , might not be since important as obsessing more than customer service. It’s better to put your fears aside and launch a product that isn’t ideal because you can always up-date and improve it. In the end, once your products are in the hands of your customers, you can learn much more quickly can be working and what isn’t.
Worrying over customer service, however , is worth the extra effort. Amazon TOP DOG Jeff Bezos puts it properly in his 2016 letter to shareholders: “There are many ways to center a business. You can be rival focused, you can be product focused, you can be technology focused, you may be business model focused, and there are more. But in my look at, obsessive customer focus is definitely the most protective of Day 1 vitality. ”
(“Day 1” is what this individual refers to as a period of growth and innovation, whereas “Day 2” is stasis, irrelevance, and slow demise. )
While these are just some of the many business challenges dealing with small businesses every day, there are many other people out there. Many of them can be planned for and mitigated using the proper planning and technique.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published within July 2018 and has already been updated for comprehensiveness.