Posted on Aug 23, 2013

The Four Top Small Business Challenges and How to Tackle Them

Having your own small business is one of the most freeing and fun ways you can make a living. But let's be real here – business is business, and business means business. Turning your small business dreams into a reality and keeping it going is challenging. Here are the top four challenges faced by small business owners and how you can tackle them.


1. Funding


It's no secret that starting a business requires money. Most small businesses require an initial investment of some serious funds. You'll most likely need to rent or buy a business office space or store front. You'll want to spend money on advertising and maybe even content marketing. If you need employees you'll need money to pay them so you can keep them. Raw materials and products can be expensive to buy in bulk.


Another thing to consider with costs of a small business is maintaining your personal living expenses. You'll want to make sure that you can pay your other bills and do alright financially if your business starts out slow, which it almost certainly will. Good news is that there are a number of loans designed to help out small business owners. Taking out a small business loan will give you a financial buffer and allow you to use more money for starting and maintaining your small business.


A great resource for small business loans and alternative funding is the US Small Business Administration, or SBA. From the SBA website you'll be able to access applications to apply for loans and grants. Useful resources on every aspect of small business ownership are available here as well, from managing employees to growing your business. Legal information for contracting and small business procedures can also be found here.


2. Taxes


When you own a small business, taxes can get complicated. You'll have to worry about business taxes, self-employment taxes, and employee withholding taxes. Unless you're a certified accountant, you'll probably need some help when it comes to getting these taxes done and done correctly. Thankfully, the IRS provides a ton of really helpful resources for small business owners at their Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center website. From documents to webinars, this website can clear up a lot of the questions you might have about your new tax structure. It's also way more interesting than you'd think an IRS website could ever be. Check it out.


3. Growing in a Way that Makes Sense


Some people try to make their small businesses turn into monster monopolies overnight and pretty much nobody ever succeeds. Your small business is like a puppy. With proper care and attention it will grow into a strong and loyal dog. If you give your puppy steroids and read him The Cheater's Handbook every night before bed, just imagine the scary monster you're going to end up with. Remember – Good things take time, and time happens naturally. Don’t sit back and relax too much, though. You definitely need to focus on growth. What's important though is how you grow.


Rather than rushing your small business to grow up there are a few things you can do to make the growth as smooth and successful as possible. First, pay attention to trends in your industry. Get a good idea of what the current state of your industry is and try to spot signs of what will happen within the industry's future. You'll then be able to make smart business decisions and grow your business as efficiently as possible and towards a direction that will be modern, trendy and stable. Second, grow at a stable and realistic pace. Whatever direction you choose to grow your business in, make sure you plan appropriately for all aspects of growth. Take it slow enough that you can monitor your successes or failures, and also slow enough that any failures won't take down everything else you've worked for. Don't just grow your business haphazardly.


Growth is a good thing, but when it comes to your business, growth needs moderation and monitoring.



4. Doing Too Much Work Yourself


It's easy to get caught up in wanting to do everything at your small business yourself. Before you know it, you're business will run you. You’ll be the owner, manager, sales person, accountant, janitor, security guard and marketing specialist. You'll feel overworked, overstressed, and will lose sight of what led you to starting a small business in the first place.


Consider outsourcing some of your work. If money is what's keeping you from hiring extra help, consider hiring freelancers or interns to do your marketing and accountant work. Find good sales people to help you with sales who will be willing to work mostly on commissions. All the hours you're spending in a week to get these other jobs done are hours being taken away from your role as business owner. It's also emotionally and mentally draining to have to run every aspect of your business yourself.


These four challenges bog down almost every small business owner at one time or another. All you can do is tackle them the best that you can and get back to business.