As a preface to this piece, I want to say that working at a small business is a fantastic experience. It gives you the opportunity to work in a tight-knit group of unique individuals, who ideally strive towards the same goal. It allows you to see the impact your work has on a day-to-day basis, acting as validation and a reminder of why you do what you do. It provides numerous opportunities to connect with your community in an intimate way, and ultimately better it as a whole. Yes, working at a small business is great. Except… when it’s not.
So without further ado, here are 3 small business ailments and some suggested remedies.
1. Growing Pains
If you work at a small business, you probably juggle a million different tasks and wear four different titles.
Yes, my business card does say I’m the Finance Managing Sales Lead Office Disk Jockey. They call me DJ Dolla Billz. Pleasure to meet you.
While you may expect this as a small business, it illustrates a problem we’ve all faced: having too much work and not enough people to do it. It’s difficult to maintain healthy growth. You want to increase sales and do more for your clients, but your employees are already stretched thin. Or you have a product that is in extremely high demand, and you can’t satisfy all your customers. And you STILL don’t have enough revenue to bring on another team member, or increase manufacturing, so you’re stuck in a negative feedback loop; a problem that’s even more pronounced when you have limited access to investment capital.
This is one of the main reasons so many small businesses fail — they can’t find that happy balance. They either don’t prepare for their business taking off, leaving them unable to supply an increasingly high demand, or they invest too much money on a product or service that doesn’t find success.
Our CEO Chris Manley has some tips for this particularly difficult challenge: “There are two options if you find yourself in this situation: engage in serious strategic planning or consider whether your business model is sustainable. Success should not be limited to ‘if my business stays open’. Success can also be found when you learn a particular business model does not work. You gain valuable knowledge and skills, and you can apply what you’ve learned to your next venture.”
“Identifying and bringing on board business advisers is also a strong next step. Find business leaders you respect — they may be related to your industry or something totally different. However, find people who fit your need. If you just can’t get your sales off the ground, then seek out a mentor in someone who has successfully grown sales in another company. If your problem is outlining operational procedures and production guidelines, ask around to identify someone who has a corresponding background. If you have no network of existing business leaders to lean on for recommendations, check out SCORE, a group of retired executives devoted to helping entrepreneurs find success.”
Finding The Right Employees
A study by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) reported that 27% of small business owners identified lack of skilled labor as a major impediment to business growth. Why is it such a struggle to find good help? One reason is that these businesses cannot or will not pay skilled workers enough to hire them.
Um….. where is everyone?!?
Another is that a business growing too quickly may rush the hiring process, not properly train new hires, and provide customers with inconsistent and often insufficient services. Or, they may take a risk on promising candidates, choosing to provide substantial training in-house, only for the employee to leave after receiving the training. You can avoid this by implementing systems or tools to measure the engagement of employees.
Spend a significant amount of time during the hiring process! Don’t rush to fill a position just so you can meet demand and lighten the load on your current employees. This decision will ultimately come back to haunt you, costing even more time and money. If you hire an employee that sticks around, even for only a year, investing enough time into making the right decision will have an incredibly positive ROI. You’ll find someone who fits your company culture, has the right skills, or is receptive and skilled at learning.
Also, let employees go if you have to, even if they are hard-working and amiable. If you have an employee that doesn’t meet your standards and isn’t contributing to your profit — including those that mean well and do everything they can — it’s best to let them go. This can also be said of employees that don’t fit in with the company culture, or buy in to the values of the business.
3. You Don’t Have a Website
Stop what you’re doing. Are you sitting down? If not, you probably should. We’ll wait….
Alright, now that you have yourself securely planted in a chair, get this: only 51% of small businesses have websites.
Wait, did you read that correctly? Do you need to change your screen resolution or something? Maybe you’re just light-headed and need to lie down.
This fox gets it
Nope. You read that right and don’t have an excuse to nap. Nearly HALF of all small businesses don’t have a website. And if you’ve followed our blog within the past year, you’ll know that’s a bad idea. Without a website, you lack digital representation of your brand and allow yourself to be defined by whatever is floating around on the interwebs. Instead of YOU having control over how people perceive you online, you allow others to determine your identity. This is the case even if the majority of your leads come from word-of-mouth marketing.
Get a website!!! Although it takes time and money, a quality website is not something you can afford to do business without. People think less of businesses that lack a responsive and up-to-date website, and if you don’t have one you could be missing out on a ton of potential business.
That’s not what I was looking for…