All business owners have challenges. Here are some that can make or break a business and what one can do to combat them.
Change: One would think that a small business could change quickly, if need be, but that is seldom the case. One, as humans we are creatures of habit and will sometimes stick to something we know not because it is the best answer, but because it’s familiar to us. Change involves risk and risk involves confidence. Confidence in oneself may be shattered if one’s business is faltering, so it’s important to find mentors that can give you the advice and strategies you truly need to succeed without worry that they have a hidden agenda.
Hiring: Okay, so you know you are a great company and that a great company should be able to attract great employees, but if you’re a small business, it’s hard to compete with the larger corporations that offer full benefits and perhaps larger paychecks. So, how can you compete? The answer is in looking closely at what you have to offer your future employees. Will they have a better chance at promotions in a smaller company? Will they have access to more hands-on training? Are they in a culture that’s supportive and attractive? Have you created a work environment that will attract the very people you want to work for you? Create an environment that you like coming to, and they will, too.
Asking: Believe it or not, asking for help is one of the top challenges facing owners of small businesses. If you’re struggling, then asking for help feels like you are inadequate and unable to keep your business afloat. But, the fact is that those business owners who recognize that they need help and set their egos aside long enough to get competent coaching excel not only as individuals, but as a company. The challenge in asking is in knowing what to ask for, and when to ask for it. That’s where a coach can help.
Leadership: As business owners, we are good at something. We must be. We own businesses! That’s no small task, but what tends to happen in ANY industry is that we may be good at some things and less strong in others. Maybe, for instance, we can crunch numbers right up there with the best accountants, but we can’t manage a team to save our lives. Leading by example is common advice for business owners and managers, but if you don’t know how to do something then you may just lead your team down the wrong path. The solution? Put a team together that can most complement one other, even you. Respect and reward those working with you for skills they possess that you may not have, and if they are struggling in an area that you have strength in, build their skills in those areas so that they may be strong leaders as well.
Leads: Any business owner that is worth his or her salt will recognize that nothing sells itself. Effective lead generation is possible through better advertising, having a proven and successful system in place, and turning promising leads into loyal customers. Know the: who, what, where, when, and why of your advertising campaigns to maximize the impact of its success. Who is your target market, what is your promise to your potential customer, where is the best place to place your ad for maximum exposure, when is the best time to run the ad, why should someone choose you over some other product or service? Answering these simple questions will put you on the right path to generating instant leads.
Employees: Hiring the right people is only the first challenge. Perhaps more important is what to do once you’ve hired them in terms of training. Oftentimes, small businesses fail because they have no training programs in place for incoming (and existing!) employees. Today’s environment is fast-paced and ever-changing with new technology constantly present. Offering training is not only vital to your company’s growth and well being, it’s vital to your team. Think of training like food. If you don’t feed your staff, they’ll wither away and perish! If you don’t have training tools in place, consider ways you can establish some training and define what, exactly, you want your employees to learn. Or ask them what they want help with. You might be surprised at their answers!
Networking: Small business owners share a challenge with large corporations with regards to networking. As a matter of fact, they share many challenges, including security and privacy issues, effective lead generation, lack of effective metrics and measurement strategies to monitor and track results, time constraints – the list goes on. The key is selecting the networking venues that will effectively and efficiently market and promote your services. You might have a terrific blog, but if you can’t get anyone to link or click on it, it’s useless.
Goals: Sometimes business owners have what are called “misplaced goals”. They THINK one thing is their goal, when in fact it their focus and attention should be somewhere else. Think of it like someone who’s unhappy and they blame something for their unhappiness, when in fact their mood is really a result of something else. Goal-setting is imperative in business. They key is to have both short-term and long-term goals. Some business owners are highly skilled at seeing the “whole” picture, but miss all the important smaller “parts” that will eventually make up that larger picture. Others are great at seeing the “small parts” necessary to carry on day-to-day business but have no real visions for the future and the growth of their companies. Ask yourself what your ultimate vision for your company is, then try setting smaller, reachable goals that can be the stepping stones toward reaching that higher goal.
Efficiency: Owners of small- to medium-sized businesses often suffer from burnout. They try to cut costs by doing everything themselves, only to find that other areas of their lives suffer, including family relationships, sleep deprivation, increased stress and other “symptoms” of work overload. The solution? Well, for one, learn to prioritize. If you find that you are handling busy-work tasks that you could have someone else do for significantly less, delegate. If you find that you are running in circles, take a closer look at what strategies you have in place that could minimize inefficiency and stress and maximize production. What efficiency often impacts is time. Time is something you can’t get back, so learning the techniques to make time work for you rather than against you is imperative.
Sales: Selling is easy if someone wants to buy whatever it is you are promoting, right? But sales is less about the selling and more about the enthusiasm with which someone is promoting a sale. Think of it this way: When you stop trying to sell something, you start selling something. Have you ever noticed that you may have gone somewhere with no intention to buy whatever it is at the store, but a very enthusiastic sales person will convince you that you can’t live without that very thing. Then what? You buy it! To understand selling, one must understand who the seller is. Are they someone who waits for people to ask about a product or service? Are they a product pusher who talks of nothing but the product? Maybe they’re the person who asks what you need and then bends over backwards to find it for you. Or how about the person who promises the world just to get you to buy? Which one do you want working for you? Determine this and that’s who will be attracted to your company! Trust me, it works.
http://www.facebook.com/actioncalteam.com/Master Licensee Peter Williamson of ActionCOACH leads the Northern Nevada and Northern California territories. Williamson’s 23 years of business experience spans everything from owning a business consulting/coaching practice, to working for Fortune 500 companies.