As with anything worth doing, building your own business is not without its difficulties. As a business owner trying to manage a business, there are challenges you will encounter. Although starting a business can lead to personal and financial rewards in the future, you are likely to face some challenges.
In this column, you’ll learn some challenges faced by entrepreneurs and how to overcome them. Let’s dive in, shall we?
- Lack of courage
Some entrepreneurs lack the courage to pursue their passion. They get scared even before they have a chance to prove themselves. The life of an entrepreneur is a shaky one, especially during the early stages.
How to overcome: While it’s true that things get shaky at times, it also gets better over time. It is better you start and if you have to fail, fail forward. Learn from the best and keep pushing.
- Coming up with a business idea
Before you can start a business, you must have an idea or series of ideas to select from. As an entrepreneur, you should be able to see what others cannot see. If they see problems, you should see solutions.
How to overcome: When looking for ideas, go for something you have knowledge of and would love to do. What are you passionate about? What business would you venture into if you weren’t afraid? Be honest with yourself.
Sourcing for funds is a major challenge when starting a business. It can be hard for entrepreneurs to source for funds, especially from a financial institution. You might decide to borrow money from friends or take out from your personal savings.
A common mistake young business owners make is starting a business with the aim of making money and forgetting that it takes money to make more money.
How to overcome: Before starting a business, make sure you have enough money to sustain you for a while (a year or two). You can seek out for loans from banks or local credit unions in your area. If you have enough personal savings, you can also use that. Others prefer borrowing from friends and family. Whatever option you decide, make sure you have a detailed business plan.
- Time management
You might think you’ll have more time on your hands once you start your business. Truth is, starting a business is a full-time job. It’s something you need to commit to at the beginning stage if you must see results. Managing your time can be hard when you have so many responsibilities. How do you as an entrepreneur manage your time?
How to overcome: It’s important you learn to organize and prioritize tasks. Make a daily list of what needs to do and prioritize them. Get on with those that need urgent attention and handle the rest later. You can also set deadlines. That way, you put aside any form of distraction and get to work.
- Cash flow
Another challenge is cash flow. It’s hard to survive as a business if you’re running out of cash. As an entrepreneur, you’ll have to take into consideration expenses such as infrastructural cost, employee’s salary and marketing budget.
How to overcome: Keep track of your finances; make a list of your monthly expenses. Audit your expenses and cut back where you can. If you’re unable to cut back, go for cheaper options. Don’t forget to send invoices on time to avoid delayed payments. Also, stay on top of stock management; keep track of what you have and what you should buy.
- Trying to do it alone
Truth is, you can’t! It’s going to be hard. Thinking you can do everything alone is one of the most common mistakes new business owners make. You will need advice from people and a strong team on your side to carry out certain tasks. It is stressful balancing your account, following up on a prospect, scheduling meetings with clients, delivering products and all that.
How to overcome: Learn to delegate tasks. There’re instances when you get personally involved in certain decisions. There are also other days you need to delegate and trust that your team will make the best decision. That brings me to the next point.
- Team building
“Individuals don’t win in business, teams do.” – Sam Walton.
Your team can either make your company or destroy it. Getting the right people on your team can be challenging. Especially if they have zero knowledge about the culture of your organization or respect for your industry. Most people seek employment only to earn more money. So once you hire them, they look forward to the end of the month when the salary comes.
What qualities should you look out for? What personality traits and skills are of importance to you? Picking the right team is stressful and difficult. If you value transparency, and the candidate isn’t honest, you’ll find it hard working with him/her. If you value teamwork, you need to look out for a team player.
How to overcome: Finding the right people and developing the right skills, knowledge and competencies is key to building a sustainable business and a harmonious working environment. Have a hiring strategy; be specific about the qualifications for each role. Make sure the candidate is a good fit for the company. Don’t hire in a haste or for convenience sake. Focus on value when hiring.
As a start-up, you will have to compete for your brand to stand out. Mind you, there are companies in similar industries like yours. Some have been around for some time, gained some knowledge, adapted to the current marketing trends and have managed to attract a large audience. As a newbie, you’ll have to compete with all that.
How to overcome: Rather than running away from competition, use it to fuel your productivity. Learn from your competitors and do better. Look for what they aren’t doing and do it. It could be time to review your pricing and value proposition. Look for novel ways to grow your business. Competition drives innovation and security. It keeps you on your toes and pushes you to improve your service or product.
- Getting clients
It’s difficult to get clients once you start a business. You just designed your logo and made your first post on social media. You might have even launched a campaign. A month has passed. No client. You’re frustrated and want to give up. For a new business, it’s difficult to attract prospects and retain customers.
Potential customers are quite sceptical and hesitant about a new business. It’s easy to go for what you’re used to than going for what you have no knowledge of.
How to overcome: You can’t sell to everyone so it’s important you market to your buyer persona (a fictitious representation of your ideal customer). Think of people likely to enjoy your product and service and market to those people. Another way is to have an online presence. Having a good website and an active social media page can put your business right in front of your customer.
- Lack of direction and planning
This comes from not having a detailed business plan or process in place. It’s easy to get excited about starting a business that you overlook having a proper business plan in place. Having a plan and process in place keeps you organized and focused.
How to overcome: Have a business plan in place. This is a crafted document that outlines every detail of your business. Carefully outline the purpose of your business, your audience, goals and financial plan of your business.
- Keeping up with industry changes and trends
If you must survive, you must keep up with the changes in your industry. If your business operates in an industry that experiences constant change, you have to adjust. Customer needs change, prices fluctuate, algorithms change, and marketing tactics evolve.
How to overcome: Disruption is the new normal. Don’t be afraid of change. Rather be willing to adapt and adjust your business to fit the current trend.
- Marketing your product/service
For a start-up, the list of marketing options can be overwhelming. Do you go traditional or digital? How do you decide which marketing yields the best result?
How to overcome: Focus on where your audience is and where they hang out? Then, narrow down your marketing options. You can also seek the services of a digital marketing agency to help with your marketing efforts.
Starting a business comes with a host of challenges. Time, team building, money, competition, planning, courage and keeping up with current trends. But, when you’re able to overcome them, it’s a rewarding experience.
Are you currently running a business? What challenges did you encounter and how did you overcome them.
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