It can be confusing to be a small business owner. On one hand you are told to hold onto our ‘why’ – the reason you wanted to go into business in the first place. On the other hand you are encouraged to respond to the market – without customers you don’t have a business.
It’s not surprising that the easiest thing to do is nothing!
There are many reasons some small businesses grow and others hit a wall. There are external factors like competition and demand as well as internal factors such as operations and resourcing.
From my experience as a business strategist here are the top ten issues that can influence small business growth:
- Complacency. You could be complacent because you are scared to grow, or you could be complacent because you are comfortable with your current rate of success. As small business is usually a reflection of the owner’s personality you need to be aware of the messages you are portraying to those around you.
- Blindsided. New competitors are constantly entering the market and you need to be open to evolving your marketing mix or product offering rather than being content to continue to do what has worked in the past. Just because it has worked doesn’t mean it will in the future.
- Getting the right people. At some stage you are going to have to get out of your own way! You cannot grow a business without the right people in the right place at the right time. You will need different people and different skills at different times in your business. To get the right people you need a great recruitment strategy, an induction process and the courage to make decisions if it doesn’t work out.
- Systems and processes. Business efficiencies come from being able to automate and systemise everyday activities. Those areas that do not require creativity should be done at the same time in the same way every time.
- Customer service. The biggest opportunity for differentiation in a small business is the ability to provide niche customer service. Your ideal customers, when treated well, are in the best position to refer your business to their networks.
- Technology. Technology is your friend in business. While it can seem overwhelming there are many productivity and marketing gains you could realise by using the most appropriate technology for your business.
- Consistent promotion. Promotion is not something that should ebb and flow, if it does – so will your sales. Develop a promotional plan and review it’s success or otherwise, and make changes as necessary. With an abundance of messaging hitting your target market every moment, promotional effort is a long-term commitment.
- Cash flow. Money goes out before it comes in and you have to manage what happens in between. If you need more stock, new technology, a bigger facility, more employees or more equipment you need to ensure you have the funds to support your plans.
- Commitment to learn. Markets are changing; business is evolving faster than ever before. What you knew today might be different tomorrow. Having a thirst for learning is a requirement of any business leader.
- Leadership. It can be hard to maintain your passion on the tough days. Your vision, courage, resilience, attitude and hard work will be paramount to your long term success.
Which of these issues is stopping you from growing your small business?