As a young entrepreneur, you may have gone above and beyond the call of duty to set up your business, honing your time management skills, dealing with unhelpful people, and stepping outside of your comfort zone often. But now that you have reached that unreachable milestone and got your business on the right trajectory, is it sensible to just let it ‘go with the flow’? Nope. It is too soon for you to be relaxing on your reclining couch just yet.
Your next milestone would be to make your business a self-sustaining, money milking, number crunching machine… then you can rest on that recliner. Well, unless the entrepreneur bug has affected you enough to consider other business avenues.
But before that bug becomes potent enough to condition you into a seasoned entrepreneur, you must overcome the following big challenges that face small businesses. Yes you’re a small business – for now.
1) Identifying your customer base
It would be foolhardy to try selling your products to people that have no idea what it is all about, and it ends up making you look like a confused business owner. Run business analytics to identify your consumer base, if you don’t have enough customers then simply look at your immediate competition, what demographic do they appeal to? What features make them more appealing?
Don’t be afraid to hire help of consultants who will provide the necessary expertise to identify the precious few who will entertain your business.
Try to gain these insights into how your competition is running their business, try to strike up a conversation with one of these owners or their employees and learn something new. Sometimes a simple chat is all it takes to unlock new opportunities. Never underestimate the power of good, eloquent speech.
2) Shortage of capital
The most common problem that early businesses face on the road to self-sustenance is access to the required capital. There are various ways you can acquire the necessary funds, all of them however require you to have a few basic skills – managing relationships and conveying your idea effortlessly. Reaching out to startup incubators for one can actually help you get connected to angel investors, who might bestow a massive lump sum amount to your business. The catch however is that your idea must look good to them.
Nascent entrepreneurs still face problems with basic skills, startup incubations help with business and presentation skills which might propel your startup into the limelight.
3) The immediate competition
You don’t face much competition when you pioneer a new product, your only enemy is exposure to the general masses, but when your goal is to break into an established market, then your competition is both your benchmark and the worst nightmare. Your only true weapon in this case is aggressive media campaigning to qualify and attract customers and subtly shove your product into people’s minds. You need to maintain a cautionary balance between obtrusive and intuitive advertisement.
Choose from between Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, where possible ask social celebrities with large fan followings to give you ‘shout-outs’. These could be paid services or a simple favor from a friend.
4) Passion induced fatigue
It is necessary for you as a business owner to take a break every once in a bloom. While it is true that your business is entirely dependent on you like an infant is to its mother, putting in long arduous hours of work can take its toll on you mentally and physically. There eventually comes a time when your rationale fails and you end up making rash decisions based purely on annoyance. So, young entrepreneur – give it a break and cut yourself some slack.
5) Expanding Your Network
One of the key tools that businesses should use to put themselves on and get themselves useful exposure is networking. It is unfortunately neglected by young startups. The confidence that usually accompanies a tender age doesn’t really have the benefit of hindsight, no matter how strong your idea may be, or how likeable your public persona may be. If you do not have connections with the right people your business will fall back to the closet it crawled out of.
For this purpose, keep track of business summits that might be taking place around your city, register for them and take an active part in the brief break sessions that are provided in between presentations. Approach a business owner, introduce yourself and eloquently brief them about your business. Follow that meeting up with a connection on social media such as LinkedIn or if you want to get more personal, maybe even a friend request on Facebook.
6) Firing unproductive employees
A productive workforce is the backbone of any successful business; your first priority would be to ensure that your workers are properly taken care of. Factors such as salaries, employee benefits and office environment should be the most obvious items to take care of, however it is important to build a personal relationship with your workers, nurture and foster their growth – it will after all benefit only you in the long run.
Your employee will be motivated to work harder with increased productivity. Everyone has their demons, you as an employer will have things that will bog you down from performing at your peak, and your employee will have their own luggage anchoring them down. Therefore, it is important to give each other the much-needed break.
There are times however when employees just either don’t have the passion or the base skill-set needed for you to be able to bring them to the next level. It is important to identify such workers early on and lay them off. It must be done so in a dignified manner; the business is far too young to experience fallout from angry ex-employees.
Transforming your business into a well-oiled machine should be your number one priority, to that end you must make hard and timely decisions.