Big Challenges for Small Business Owners

Small business owners wear many hats and make many decisions each day. Most of these decisions are small and they have minor impacts. Some, however, are common to most small businesses and can have major impacts. That’s what this post is all about.

The first big challenge facing most small business owners is finances. As the CEO of a start-up frequently said to me, “Cash is king.” Businesses exist to make money and most small business owners run their finances without adequate planning or oversight. They monitor bank balances, accounts receivables, and expenses, but most don’t have a basic financial forecasting and reporting/monitoring structure in place. Many don’t have the luxury of a line of credit or other source of funding to help them remain solvent when inevitable financial speed bumps occur.

If your business needs some help in the financial area, here is a short “best practices” checklist to consider:

O  Get help to create a basic financial reporting structure, such as within QuickBooks or your chose accounting software

O  Document financial reporting guidelines to assure timely reporting and item entries that you, your employees, 1099s, etc. will follow

O  Create a forecast of all important financial data, such as revenues, accounts receivable, and key expense types

O  Commit to a regular schedule to review the reports, comparing your results to forecasts and previous time periods

O  Investigate short-term financial options such as a line of credit, credit card, silent investors, or other personal funds

The second big challenge facing most small business owners is people. Every person is critical to the operation. One poor performer can have major negative impacts. A sudden resignation by a key contributor can slow production of goods or services. Finding new talent for growth or to backfill openings can drag out for months because the owner is distracted by other activities or simply doesn’t have the skill to find good talent. Motivating the current team members can be overlooked or not be an innate talent of the owner.

If your business needs some help in the people area, here are a few ideas to consider:

O  Block off a few hours to consider carefully the performance of each member of your current team

O  Determine those who are critical to your success and what you can do to motivate and retain them, then do so

O  Determine those who are not performing successfully and what action you will take to address this, then do so

The third big challenge facing most small business owners is time. Few seem to have enough of it, even if they are working 60 hours a week or more. After working long hours for years, they begin to feel they have become a slave to their business … that it is running them rather than they running it.

If you are working more hours than you want and not feeling like it is getting any better, then consider these suggestions:

O  Jot down the action items you are doing for a day or two, then review them with an eye toward those that could be eliminated

O  Take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself “Am I failing to delegate work that others could be doing?”, then delegate appropriately

O  If not in place, establish more organizational structure in your daily activities, such as a daily “to do” list and time scheduling for key activities on your calendar

O  Make a commitment to yourself to reasonable work hours and hold yourself to them, which will cause you to avoid low-value work

If you are a business owner who doesn’t have any of these big challenges, it’s possible you are not paying attention to one or more of them. Think again. Don’t miss this opportunity to improve your business and your work/life balance!