Despite their unmatched passion and dedication, entrepreneurs face many business challenges in today’s start-up culture. Luckily, there are a number of resources at hand to address these challenges that create more opportunities for small businesses than ever before.
While every business is different and hopefully, not all new entrepreneurs will face the same challenges, you can rest assured that others have been there before. There’s a well-worn path to entrepreneurship full of highs, lows and everything in between.
Here are some of the major obstacles (and solutions) for new businesses that are just starting out:
1. Finding capital
Most new businesses lack the financial or tangible assets needed to grow. As a result, a lot of your early struggles will probably be financial ones. Unfortunately, many small businesses aren’t fully familiar with the multitude of ways that they can work around this.
Thankfully, in 2019 there is an abundant of funding options available. You can find angel investors, going after venture capital firms, apply for grants, secure a bank loan, or even start a Kickstarter campaign.
Before you move forward with any of these options, consider the costs that you’ll incur over the next five years. Your business has to cover overhead costs, provide fair wages to your employees, and keep operations afloat. Talk with an attorney to see how much money you’ll need to grow the business before you start monetizing.
2. Time management
Entrepreneurs wear many hats and it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day to run your business, let alone expand it. How do you find the time to effectively juggle so many tasks, and keep an eye peeled to the horizon?
The first thing you need to keep in mind is this: every successful entrepreneur you’ve ever known or heard of had the same number of hours in a day. From Bill Gates to Warren Buffet to the guy down the street who started his own business. We all get the same amount of time, it’s how we use it that makes all the difference.
Learn to use your time effectively and efficiently. Define attainable goals, build an organized structure into each workday, and adequately train employees. Always evaluate how you’re using your time and if there is a better way to spend it. It’s working smarter, not harder, that creates tidal waves in small businesses.
3. Making a career change
Focusing on a start-up barely leaves time for anything else. Sure, you’ve devoted nights and weekends to giving it life. But when you’re ready to jump in with both feet, it’s going to require your undivided attention.
People always say don’t quit your day job, and there’s definitely truth to that. For every entrepreneur that put it all on the line for success…. There’s plenty that didn’t make it. For that reason, it’s advisable to “not quit your day job” too early.
However, the opposite can also be true. You do need to take a leap every now and then. And while not quitting your day job too early on is important, there will come a point when it’s time to dive in.
Normally this will be when your business is starting to generate at least some revenue, you’ve got a bit of money saved to cover your expenses, and diving in won’t bankrupt you immediately. Securing these three things before devoting yourself full-time to your business can ease a lot of headaches later on. If you make yourself a net, it’ll be all that easier to jump.
4. Marketing your business
Entrepreneurs face many obstacles when it comes to marketing. Unlike businesses backed by large corporations, you operate on a tight budget. There isn’t a large team of marketers available. You also have to put effort into numerous marketing initiatives, like a website, social media, content marketing, and traditional marketing.
The good news is that there are a lot of tools available that make marketing easy for a small team. Drag and drop website editors are user-friendly and have a fairly low monthly cost. Most social media management platforms have a free version with pretty adequate features. Plus, there are photo editors and video creation platforms, like Promo.com with high-quality assets that you can license and use to make professional marketing pieces.
Never forget that, with these tools at your fingertips, and a sprinkle of imagination, you can even compete against the industry giants.
Maybe you left your previous job because you were tired of the mundane office environment day after day. Or, maybe you’ve always worked for yourself. No matter what drew you to entrepreneurship, understand that the days of job-related issues aren’t over. Research shows that entrepreneurs are still at risk for job-dissatisfaction, lack of motivation or passion, and absenteeism.
You can avoid burnout by determining what your stressors are. Take a second to evaluate this and see what changes you can make to minimize stress. Also, be flexible and realistic with your expectations. This career may be your passion, but have you been honest about the amount of success and growth you can accomplish?
Simply put, the notion of the tireless entrepreneur burning the midnight oil and working 100 hours per week is a bit romanticized. Yes, building a business takes time, energy, and money. A common phrase in entrepreneur circles is that entrepreneurs “work 80 hours to avoid working 40 hours.”.
But you can still get burnt out, so be sure to not burn too bright, too fast. While you could work sixteen hours a day, is it sustainable? Rome wasn’t built in a day and your business won’t be either, so buckle down for the long run and make the necessary adjustments for the trip.
6. Choosing employees
The hiring process is time-consuming. You want to bring someone else on board to share the workload, but finding that person is a chore in itself. Not to mention the pressure of choosing the right person that will be a dedicated, long-term employee.
It’s important to be specific. Don’t be vague and leave out important information about job requirements. Give details about job duties, work schedule, and wages and benefits up front to attract the most desirable candidates. Also, make time to check their references to get a feel for their work ethic and understand why they left their previous employment.
You want someone who is going to ease the stress, not add to it, so taking your time and listen to your gut, it’s gotten you this far.
If you already have a team in place, do you find it difficult to trust them with the job at hand? Perhaps tasks are messed up frequently or you’re not confident in their ability to perform certain job functions.
Evaluate if you have the wrong people or if you’re having trouble delegating. It’s important to hire dependable employees and vendors. Be very specific about what needs to be done, provide detailed instructions, and don’t assume they’ll do the job exactly as you would. They can’t be you, but they can add their own personality, and let your business benefit from a diverse array of personalities.
Long hours, sacrifices, and working independently aren’t desirable by most people. But in the beginning, it’s typically what an entrepreneur experiences. You will feel discouraged when you face roadblocks or challenges, and it can feel isolating when you’re doubted by others.
Don’t fall victim to self-doubt. Focus on your goals and tasks. When you feel unmotivated, remember that your daily to-dos are getting you closer to your life-long goal. Consider networking with other entrepreneurs who have experienced similar feelings. Or even just meditate on how far you have come. It takes a lot of confidence and courage to start you’re own business, so don’t forget that the extra push when you’re near to giving up, can always come from the inside.
Entrepreneurship is attractive because you have the freedom to make your own choices. But autonomy is a double-edged sword. Yes, you can do whatever you want, but who’s holding you accountable?
Create a culture of working with a purpose. You need a dedicated workplace with minimal distractions, and even though you don’t have a boss, you can still benefit from an accountability partner who isn’t afraid to call you out for that three-hour lunch break.
Start-ups need to be competitive, especially if you’re entering an already crowded space. How can you stand out in a crowd?
To answer that question, you have to know the competition. Market research is key but you can also do a little investigating on your own. Follow your competition online, sign-up for their newsletters, track them on social media. What are they up to? What seems to be working? How do they cope with adversity? Focus on how you can create an improved product or service so that customers will pick you when given the choice.
You can learn a lot by keeping tabs on your competition. Not only can it give you a few ideas that have already been tested and proved successful, but it can also help head off potential problems before they occur.
Remember to enjoy the ride
You’re not the first or the only entrepreneur to experience these challenges. It’s important to take full advantage of the many resources available to you and always keep yourself in check. It is through those methods, and some good old fashioned hard work and faith, that you can go from a new entrepreneur to joining the ranks of successful business owners.