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As we enter the second half of the 2010s, small businesses in America are experiencing exceptional rates of growth.* In fact, this is one of the best times to own a small business.† If you’re a small business owner or are considering starting your own business, the market may be primed to help you reach success. However, there are still a number of challenges you’ll likely face. Before you forge ahead, you should be aware of the issues that could trip you up. Here are five of the most common challenges you may encounter.
Nothing can hold a business back like money problems. This is even more true for small businesses. While most larger companies have enough cash flow to keep up with payroll and keep the lights on, small businesses are often in a less stable situation. If one big client fails to make a payment, your small business may not be able to cover its bills. There are plenty of tales of small business owners giving up their own salaries in order to pay their employees and vendors. And, sadly, there are plenty more stories of small businesses failing because they ran out of funds.
Are you working on the business or in the business? For small business owners, the answer is often both. You are the one responsible for executing business plans and winning new business, but you might also be answering the phones, filing the paperwork, and dealing with vendors. The smaller your business, the more tasks you’re likely to have. This time crunch can be difficult to manage and can cause important matters to fall through the cracks.
Small businesses provide 55% of all jobs in America and have created 66% of net new jobs since 1970.‡ But that doesn’t mean finding qualified, hardworking employees is easy. In many instances, your small business’ benefits package won’t be able to compete with what large companies offer. Additionally, while large businesses can hire people for one specific task, you may need employees who can handle multiple tasks. You’re also likely to need people who have the personality necessary to succeed in a small business environment, where change is common. All of these factors can make finding the right employees challenging.
It’s a common story: one day you’re celebrating landing a big client, and the next day you’re struggling to keep up with the new client’s needs. For small businesses, growth often comes with growing pains. In many instances, you have to make the choice between working long hours—and asking your staff to do the same—or finding ways to cut corners. Neither is a great solution, meaning that, ultimately, you will have to find a way to grow your business without hurting your business.
Marketing, in general, can cause small businesses a number of problems. Advertising is expensive and word of mouth is slow-moving. The internet provides opportunities to find customers without breaking the bank, but many small businesses don’t do enough with their online presence. You probably know that you need a website, but is it SEO optimized? Does it utilize responsive design? Is it driving sales or is it nothing more than an online billboard? And your website is just one piece of your online presence. You also need to consider social media like Facebook and Twitter, and pay attention to review sites like Yelp where one dissatisfied customer can damage your reputation. Large companies have entire departments devoted to online activities, but small businesses often struggle to keep up with all the ways the Internet can help—and hurt—business.
Every challenge has a myriad of solutions. However, there is one step that can help you handle all kinds of complications. You can earn a an online business degree such as a management degree or an MBA degree. Through an online graduate degree program, you can learn the skills you need to successfully run a small business, all while taking advantage of online learning’s flexibility and convenience. This means you can earn a bachelor’s or a master’s degree even as you continue to work at your current job or manage your small business.
Owning a small business can be incredibly rewarding. But to make your small business a success, you need to be prepared for the challenges you’ll face. Earning a business degree can help you get to where you’re trying to go.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering online business degrees. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
*M. Biery, The State of U.S. Small Business Entering 2016, Forbes, on the internet at www.forbes.com/sites/sageworks/2016/01/17/the-state-of-u-s-small-businesses-entering-2016/#354bdff92acd.
†P. Davidson, Best Time to Own a Small Business is Now, Poll Says, USA Today, on the internet at www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/small%20business/2016/02/22/small-businesses-optimistic/80464200.
‡U.S. Small Business Administration, Small Business Trends, on the internet at www.sba.gov/managing-business/running-business/energy-efficiency/sustainable-business-practices/small-business-trends.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.