Six Challenges Facing Business Owners

Having spent the last few weeks meeting with and chatting to small business owners around Essex, it became clear that they all seem to face similar challenges on a day-to-day basis.

As I expected, they are all time poor and there was an ongoing sense from these company owners or directors that they should be ‘hands on’ and across every facet of their business. But, as they told me, they may know all about their business but sometimes they need expert support and guidance to ensure their company grows and increases profitability.

Some of the challenges they faced included:

Customers
Customers are at the heart of any business. Without customers and the revenue generated then the business becomes just a good idea. One of the main challenges they faced was how to attract, retain and maximise their customers?

For me, the key to winning new business and ensuring customer retention is providing not only great products or services but adding a great customer service experience. A strategy needs to be developed for ensuring this customer growth and maximizing revenues from existing customers.

Marketing
Many business owners are not marketing experts and need strategic advice when it comes to developing a business positioning, a marketing plan, a campaign and thinking about the channels they wish to promote their business through.

The challenge is to enable the business to tell its story in a way that enables the business to grow and build customer engagement. Bringing an experienced marketer into the business either in-house or as a consultant to help develop this strategy can allow the business owner to focus on what he does best.

Time
For many business owners there are simply not enough hours in a day. All owners are stretched for time. Creating more time means sometimes saying no and focussing on what is essential for the success of the business.

This is where business owner often seek external advice from a business mentor or consultant to get them to focus on what is critical for the development of the business.

Financial Management
It is imperative for a small or medium-sized business to manage their cashflow effectively but sometimes managing the P&L seemed to be the third or fourth ‘order of the day’ for some business owners.

Getting good financial advice from a consultant who takes the time to analyse business performance, looks at aged debtors, analyses client profitability and puts effective financial planning measures in place mitigates the risk of the business getting into financial troubles.

Profitability
Business Planning seemed to be a bit of an afterthought for some of the business owners I spoke with, they were working more ‘on the fly’. Annual Planning should start a minimum of four months before the end of the financial year and should start with a formal annual budget, understanding the profitability of each client/customer, growth opportunities, business development planning and an analysis of the overheads required to service those clients/customers, market and grow the business, generate a great customer experience as well as delivering a sustainable profit margin.

Successful business owners create wealth and grow their business because they understand how to build a culture where sustainable profitability is a given.

Processes
Many business owners are not across all the processes involved in running a business so the challenge is to make the processes involved in running a business simpler. This is where an external consultant or expert support can prove highly beneficial.

Failure to manage processes such as sales, marketing, business development, building customer loyalty, operational management, HR and employee development can lead to businesses failing. Being stretched across business functions is not the best way for business owners to develop their business.

Six Challenges Facing Business Owners

Having spent the last few weeks meeting with and chatting to small business owners around Essex, it became clear that they all seem to face similar challenges on a day-to-day basis.

As I expected, they are all time poor and there was an ongoing sense from these company owners or directors that they should be ‘hands on’ and across every facet of their business. But, as they told me, they may know all about their business but sometimes they need expert support and guidance to ensure their company grows and increases profitability.

Some of the challenges they faced included:

Customers
Customers are at the heart of any business. Without customers and the revenue generated then the business becomes just a good idea. One of the main challenges they faced was how to attract, retain and maximise their customers?

For me, the key to winning new business and ensuring customer retention is providing not only great products or services but adding a great customer service experience. A strategy needs to be developed for ensuring this customer growth and maximizing revenues from existing customers.

Marketing
Many business owners are not marketing experts and need strategic advice when it comes to developing a business positioning, a marketing plan, a campaign and thinking about the channels they wish to promote their business through.

The challenge is to enable the business to tell its story in a way that enables the business to grow and build customer engagement. Bringing an experienced marketer into the business either in-house or as a consultant to help develop this strategy can allow the business owner to focus on what he does best.

Time
For many business owners there are simply not enough hours in a day. All owners are stretched for time. Creating more time means sometimes saying no and focussing on what is essential for the success of the business.

This is where business owner often seek external advice from a business mentor or consultant to get them to focus on what is critical for the development of the business.

Financial Management
It is imperative for a small or medium-sized business to manage their cashflow effectively but sometimes managing the P&L seemed to be the third or fourth ‘order of the day’ for some business owners.

Getting good financial advice from a consultant who takes the time to analyse business performance, looks at aged debtors, analyses client profitability and puts effective financial planning measures in place mitigates the risk of the business getting into financial troubles.

Profitability
Business Planning seemed to be a bit of an afterthought for some of the business owners I spoke with, they were working more ‘on the fly’. Annual Planning should start a minimum of four months before the end of the financial year and should start with a formal annual budget, understanding the profitability of each client/customer, growth opportunities, business development planning and an analysis of the overheads required to service those clients/customers, market and grow the business, generate a great customer experience as well as delivering a sustainable profit margin.

Successful business owners create wealth and grow their business because they understand how to build a culture where sustainable profitability is a given.

Processes
Many business owners are not across all the processes involved in running a business so the challenge is to make the processes involved in running a business simpler. This is where an external consultant or expert support can prove highly beneficial.

Failure to manage processes such as sales, marketing, business development, building customer loyalty, operational management, HR and employee development can lead to businesses failing. Being stretched across business functions is not the best way for business owners to develop their business.

Cracking The End Game Code for Business Owners: Handling Myths About Sales & Marketing and Structure

When you have business owners who spent a lot of time in their business working really hard, they don’t necessarily want to stay running around in their businesses any more. They typically want to automate and have systems and processes. Sure, they may have a C-Suite handling his or her wishes, but most owners don’t necessarily have their officers focus exclusively on automation, systems and processes because that C-suite has their own responsibilities to complete within that business.

Here’s the pressing question: why wouldn’t it make sense for an owner to sit there, craft their vision statement, craft their mission statement and craft their marketing campaigns with the sole intention of “running to their end game”- either selling their business or actually working on their business for once?

There’s thousands of different ways to market, but the truth of the matter is you should market to your strengths, your vision, and what works for you and the message you want to deliver. You must, of course, perform the heavy lifting to discover this reality for yourself, but you have to have a process and a system in place to handle this action.

You should have a due diligence checklist to say, “Every time I want to market, does this particular system I’m looking to execute in my business match my vision statement? Is it congruent with my mission statement?

As an example, I’m a writer. That’s what I’m great at. And because I’m great at writing, I simply write lots of articles. I can publish that one article and post that same message across 12 platforms with the push of a single button. I’m also great at automating systems. I know how to put systems together. I know how to put the structure of things in marketing and sales together so that things won’t fall apart. You don’t want your sales and marketing processes having holes in them, especially if you’re trying to scale up your business.

You don’t want to all of a sudden get an influx of business and your business falls apart because you can’t handle the volume. That’s what a lot of people don’t look at, especially if they’re trying to get out of their business because they’re like, “You know what? I’d rather wing it or try to figure it out.” Then their business collapses into ruin because they didn’t have a mentor supporting them.

A good example of this is solopreneurs. One of my friends is actually the inverse of this, as he has his system tight, there are no holes, and he’s extremely happy and successful in his practice.

He’s good. He’s only got 2 marketing systems. Systems that can handle high volume that he can single-handedly manage and turn those switches on and off, as needed. He’s care free, has no employees and an amazing quality of life. He’s already discovered that he doesn’t like to manage people- he doesn’t want to do that. Even if we were to put a system together for him to scale out his practice, he kept asking me, “Fred, will you manage the system?” I said, “No, I’m not going to manage the system.” I said, “I’d rather do a joint venture. I have systems that will manage the system, but if you’re talking about being in the day-to-day human element of the business, because it’s more brick and mortar, then I’m not that guy.”

I said, “I take the leadership role in anything that I do because my passion is serving other people and effectively seeing what they want to do in their businesses, with their teams, and how they want to get there. In order to be able to give them exactly what they need to perform I just can’t be held down to one business.”

As far as scaling his business out any further, he’s just like, “You know what? I’m okay, Fred. Unless you can really tell me why I should venture out any further, then I’m fine.” We were talking casually anyway, as scaling out his business wasn’t a pressing thought, or pain. The bottom line is he has choice, and he can choose whether or not he wants to duplicate his efforts. In relations to his vision and mission statement, he’s at his end game and is living the life of his dreams. That’s what it’s all about.

Most people don’t look at it that way. They just look at their business and say, “I’ve got a business. I want to make money, and that’s it.” The truth of the matter is it doesn’t really work like that. You have to lay the foundation instead of just winging it. The process doesn’t have to be perfect, as good enough is good enough.

Some business owners got lucky because they found a starving niche, but most business owners failed because they were winging it. They didn’t have structure. Even for the ones who are winging it, they’re trying to keep it all together because all of a sudden your name gets out there in the marketplace and you don’t have a repeatable way to manage your success. Now you don’t have a way to handle the volume, so you get scared.

It’s just like playing poker. You’ve got that scared money on the table that you don’t want to sitting there, hoping you don’t lose. That money on the table may be your rent, your mortgage, your whatever. And in poker, money on the table is money played. You can’t reach back in there and take it off the table. Once that money is in the pot, that’s it, you’re done, you’re beat. Most people don’t look at business like that. They’re running around here playing with scared money, but yet they need to grow their business. They got to figure out which one they need to do- run a business, or run scared. That’s the reason why automation is so important; to handle your weaknesses while you focus on your strengths and high-payout activities.

It doesn’t matter really what kind of product or service you have. The key is when you offer your product, when you get that one customer in the door, are you able to efficiently handle them from your marketing all the way down to the fulfillment, to the follow up? That’s it. Anything else other in between that is just conjecture, it doesn’t make any sense to exclusively focus on anything else except steering the ship and hiring able people, or having strong processes and systems in place.

And when I’m talking to some of these business owners, I hear the exact same thing. Whether it’s an employee, spouse, CFO, client- whatever- the communication that you, the business owner, is putting out is so important. You are the capstone of your business and what you say carries more weight than you know- it influences the direction, system and processes of your business.

An extremely simplified example of this concept is some practitioners, self-employed or solopreneurs attend networking events and mixers because when I hear them speaking directly to me, I’m like, “What are you telling me? What do you do? Really? I don’t understand.” Their communication is not clear enough for me to want to pursue further communication for me to say to myself; I need to talk to you, or I don’t need to talk to you, either I need to give you my business card, or I don’t need to give you my business card. So they haven’t made the initial sale, on behalf of their company they represent. The sale? They were selling me on their idea. Bottom line; business structure, systems, employees and processes are meaningless without an effective message via marketing and sales.

Getting to the end game is really that basic, but most people don’t see it like that because they’re caught up in their own game. They’re the picture in the frame versus actively engaging in, and having a proven and repeatable process. To me that’s the most important part. Just getting business owners either on a track, or back on track so they can win is the ultimate end game.