Growing your small business can be both exciting and challenging. Sometimes really hard. In this articles, I am highlighting the key challenges of growing a small business.These include lack of systems, lack of a team, lack of solid marketing strategy, lack of external support.For each obstacle, I discuss a few strategies you can apply. Let me know which one you can relate to:
1. Lack of Systems
You may have heard the 3 pillars of a strong organization.
When I talk about lack of systems, I am referring to lack of process.
Infact he says
When a business fails, it’s usually because one or more of the above have failed. When a business is a success, it is because all three ingredients are working well. It really is that simple…
Lack of business systems or process leads to the following:
- Working very long hours
- everything depending on you meaning that if you stop working, the business also stops working
- you can’t go on leave
- you might love the thrill of being the hero or the go-to guy or girl but at some point, you could suffer burn out
- You will constantly be in a firefighting mode
- Inconsistent customer experience with your brand
How can you get started with creating business processes?
A business process is a simple how-to manual for the various activities in your business. Dave of a company called Sweet Process brings out the concept of minimum viable process.
This means that you don’t try to systematize your whole business at once because it is quite involving. Here is what he suggests instead.
Start with your most recurring processes
What activity happens predictably daily, weekly or monthly?
Delegate this first unless it’s a high-value activity, that is too sensitive to start with.
What are some examples?
– when do you invoice clients?
-how do you invoice them?
-statutory obligations including tax and insurance
-do you have clients whose work is repetitive?
For each of these, you can have a simple document how-to process. This is all it means.
How do you know your process is complete?
Here is a simple test: can a new employee perform this task simply by reading this document?
Other systems you need to create
Sales and marketing systems
The how, the who, the what
-post-production and finishing touches. Who manages quality re-assurance and hand-over to the sales department?
Finance and admin systems
-how do you make money?
-how is the recording done
-who is responsible for it?
2. Lack of a Team
What is the value of your 1 hour?
I have asked this question to people before and some have taken it offensively.
Let me just explain
As a small business owner, you probably started off doing everything yourself. But in order to grow your business, you need to understand, not everything is worth your time
To make more money, you must start delegating low-value tasks. You must start to put value n your time.
This means you have to have a team.
What should you delegate first?
According to Chris Ducker, author the book, Outsource, here is the list of things he suggests you delegate first.
Three things you must delegate first
What you hate doing
If you hate doing it, you won’t do a very good job of it.
What takes you too long to finish doing
This could actually be something you love doing but it’s a low-value task or becomes one due to the amount of your time it consumes.
What you are not good at
Here, you have to be brutally honest with yourself but your personal abilities.
As you start to delegate, sometimes, you will need a high-quality individual but you don’t have enough money to pay them. This is where it would help to be resourceful and find out other ways to make it worth their while.
3. Lack of a Solid Sales and Marketing Strategy
Business is about selling. Can I say this often enough?
David Packard, co-founder of Hewlett Packard said: “marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.”
Do you know the key elements of a marketing strategy?
You don’t need a degree but there are fundamentals every business owner needs to know.
Customer lifetime value extension strategies.
I have covered each of these aspects in my flagship book: 7 Steps to Better Sales Results.
4. Lack of cash
Growth Sucks Cash – Watch That Cash Flow
There is being profitable and having cash
The two things are not the same. Do you have high receivables but no cash to pay your bills, salaries, and wages or rent?
Sir Richard Brunson says ‘Never take your eyes off the cash flow because it’s the lifeblood of business’
Most of us have been trained to worry more about profit but even if you are profitable, running out of cash can kill your business.
Most of the time, poor cash flow is also about poor financial systems.
Have you really exhausted your current cash potential?
Here are some points to remember:
- Current customers are cheaper to sell to
- What other products can you sell?
- Do you keep your word on promises you make to customers?
- Are you difficult to buy from?
Who is being neglected? What are the common complaints in your field? Find them, solve them.
Hustle and side hustle to raise cash
Hustling is one of the best ways to raise cash. You must aim to promote and sell relentlessly.
Savings and Line of credit
Do you have business savings? What about a reliable line of credit you can use in time of difficult cashflow?
5. Absence of External Support
Having a team of your own is all well and good. But as a business owner, you do need other kinds of external support in order to thrive. These include:
Great relationships with vendors can mean, more trust which leads to better and more flexible payment terms. Flexible payment terms can mean the difference between survival and running out of cash.
Running a business can sometimes be stressful and overwhelming. So overwhelming that you might be struggling with a problem whose solution is staring you in the face. I find a good mentor can come in handy to help you see your blind spots.
Having loyal customers is the dream of every business owner. But you know what the funny thing is? Often time, we are busy looking for new customers when we already have loyal customers willing to buy from us. It might be worthwhile to pause and ask how we can make these relationships more mutually beneficial.
Behind every successful man, there is a woman. So goes the cliché. Man or woman, we all need family support. Poor family support can make your business life much harder.
Friends and Other support systems
You are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with. To grow your business, you must watch your company. Do these people’s goal align with yours? Do they provide the support you need?
Your Business Partner
I don’t have the space to go into detail about business partnerships but a good business partner can really make your life and business growth that much easier.
6. Not Knowing What You Don’t Know
It’s the hardest type of ignorance.
When I started a business, all I had was a passion and some money. I knew that you had to buy then sell stuff. The profit would be the money left over after deducting expenses.
But to truly grow your business, you must go beyond the basic knowledge of buying and selling while at the same time remembering that buying and selling remain the core or heart of the business.
Now here are things you need to know.
Do you know what Strive Masiyiwa considers the most important business skill? READING.
Isn’t that crazy. Wouldn’t you say selling and knowledge of finance are also important? Yes, they are.
In fact, he says the top 3 most important business skills are
If you are like most small business owners, you started a business based on your passion. But reading can help you uncover what you should have known.
Having a mentor or coach is also very helpful in this regard.
7. You Want to Grow But You Are Not Willing
I was going to start with this point here we go: you can have all the tools and strategies but if this obstacle is not addressed, we are really not going anywhere.
Gino Wickman has been working with small businesses for years and years. He says the number one obstacle to small business growth is that the owner is really not willing to grow. But why would the owner be unwilling to grow? Here are some of the reasons:
Not ready to relinquish control
Growth means you must let other people do certain things and make certain decisions. This means you have to share control and not everybody is ready for that
Fear of success.
As unusual as it might sound, some people are subconsciously uncomfortable with success for various reasons. Any kind of negative association to being wealthy breeds conscious or unconscious fear of success. For example, one man said he didn’t want to be too successful because then he would have to start supporting many family members. Sometimes, a woman might be afraid of riches because of the implications it might have for her love life.
What about you?
Your goals are not high enough.
You cannot hit a target that you don’t have. Do you actually have a business growth target?
Business growth can be hindered by
-Lack of systems
-Lack of a team
-Lack of external support
-unwillingness for personal growth
P.S I am working on a course that covers this topic in much detail. It will have audio, PDFs and videos. Tell me below, which part you would look forward to learning.
I already have a foundational course titled Manage Your Business and Get More Customers.