By: Christina Nguyen
No matter how savvy you are at entrepreneurship, there will always be challenges along the way. If you’ve been following our blog, we’ve been helping our clients overcome several challenges relating to handling the current pandemic while keeping their employees safe and effectively communicating.
The pandemic hasn’t been the only challenge our clients have overcome. As advisors to startup businesses, we know that being small can pose its own unique challenges to a wide variety of industries. Fortunately, our years of experience have told us to not give up on finding solutions.
Here are some common challenges our small business clients have faced and tips for how they can be overcome:
1. Employees wearing many hats.
Many of us who have applied to jobs at small businesses have encountered this topic during our interviews. Having fewer employees means you may not have enough staff to cover different duties. For example, a bigger company may have the finances and work available to hire a full-time employee for email marketing and another one to design the company website. A small business may not need a separate person for these tasks and wouldn’t have the budget anyway, so a marketing coordinator may have to pick up some website design.
While being in charge of multiple duties can be exciting to some employees who love expanding their skillset, these employees may not be easy to find. Even if you do find them, it may be difficult for them to be efficient at all of these distinct (but usually somewhat related) tasks. They’ll have more skills to keep up with than others in a similar position.
If wearing many hats is an expectation in a position you’re hiring for, make sure you make this extremely clear during the interview! An individual hired for sales may not be too happy when requested to help out with the blog, but a different individual might be thrilled.
2. Depending too much on too few clients.
While this can happen for businesses of any size, it’s common with small businesses who typically have fewer clients. Sometimes one or two of these clients can account for a large chunk of your business’s income. This can be a bit risky, since losing one means losing a lot of your income.
To avoid this, diversify your client base. If too few clients are giving you a disproportionate amount of profit, keep working on acquiring more clients even if you’ve got raving reviews for your current ones. This may mean a lot of extra work, but go for it if you’d like a less risky business model.
3. Depending too much on the founder.
Fewer employees means a lot more responsibility for the founder. So if you, the founder, get hit with a crippling illness or accident, that can be quite impactful to operations. This is especially true if you’re holding on to a large chunk of the decision-making power and responsibilities.
If you can distribute some of this work across the appropriate employees (or look to hire to fill key roles), this will be easier to avoid. Teach the employees who work closest to you what to do in your absence, including how to manage anyone under them.
4. A small online presence.
A small business may not have many posts or followers on social media or an ultra-professional, modern website. Hiring a professional developer and graphic designer can come with quite a price tag, so finances may be an issue. Growing small social media accounts with few followers can be more difficult than a more established, larger account since there are fewer followers to repost your content and engage with you.
We recommend using Canva to design professional, modern graphics without having to hire a graphic designer for now. To save money on social media marketing scheduling software, see what you can do with well-organized Google Sheets.
When you’re looking for some help with graphic design and website development, you’re on the right site. Those are among our many services right here at Stingray Advisory Group.
5. Pandemic risks.
Smaller businesses usually have smaller offices that may not have a lot of ventilation or large windows to open. Right now, that can be creating a new challenge. If you’re working in the office, this can increase your risk of contracting the virus. If you don’t have the budget to hire professional cleaners, you’ll have to clean your office yourself, which can be a drag.
Many small businesses nowadays work in coworking spaces, most of which are spacious, well-ventilated, and come with cleaning staff. If you think your office could use an upgrade, consider your local coworking space. WeWork is the best-known one, but if you don’t have one in your location, support a local space.
6. Finding new clients or customers.
Without a well-known name or a large marketing budget to become a well-known name, finding new clients or customers can be a challenge. Since fewer people probably know of you, that means fewer referrals and other ways to spread the word.
A small business doesn’t mean the founder and employees have small social networks. Try tapping into your professional networks to do some promotion on your social media. Kindly ask your employees if they can pitch in as well. This doesn’t just have to be on LinkedIn! And don’t forget to ask clients and colleagues for referrals - sometimes all it takes is a specific ask!
7. Hiring new employees can be tougher.
Hiring can be a little tougher without an established HR department to guide you, so you’ll have to learn the ins and outs of effective hiring yourself, including writing job descriptions. Combing through resumes and conducting interviews will take quite a bit of time out of your day. Interviewing can be daunting without HR by your side, so ask another employee to join you and have them ask some questions too -- don’t just have them sit there in silence! Having a second perspective can also help with ensuring your new hire will be a great fit.
Hiring the wrong person can be costly in both time and money, so work out an efficient interviewing process with the other interviewing employees. Learn all the red and green flags that are critical to spot during the hiring process.
Even if you read every book on hiring out there, all the legal concerns of the hiring process can still be a hassle. We recommend reaching out to an expert to make sure you’re covering all your bases or thinking about outsourcing or hiring an HR representative when the time is right.
What challenges have you or someone you know faced due to the size of your business? Let us know in the comments below or send us an email!
Want to receive more informative content like this?
Sign up for our monthly newsletter today!
About Stingray Advisory Group LLC: Stingray Advisory Group LLC is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a proud member of Local First and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. We help businesses grow. By creating customized solutions, we empower businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to further their development.
Email us at email@example.com to schedule a consultation. Follow us today on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more helpful tips!