Starting a business from scratch is one of the hardest yet most gratifying things you can do. It requires dedication, persistence, resilience, but most of all, heart. No matter what industry you decide to tackle, there will always be someone who’s already in the lead or someone who can quickly emulate and compete with you, and this is where the heart comes in. In this article, we will delve into some of the common challenges that most new businesses go through and how to best manage or prevent them from becoming barriers to growth.
Did you know that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he finally came up with an electric light bulb that works? And these are only the recorded attempts. Imagine the level of determination required to try the same thing 10,001 times. It’s short of insanity! Even Sir Isaac Newton had his fair share of failures, and this is after he had discovered gravity.
So many other influential people have failed in their respective fields before they’ve succeeded: Abraham Lincoln, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, Michael Jordan, Sir Winston Churchill, among many others. What is truly great is that none of these people gave up. Whenever you’re feeling beat up after a deal goes wrong, remember the great Confucius’ words, “Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fail.”
New businesses are precisely like that. One moment you’re experiencing the lightest, most exciting feeling you’ve ever had after closing a big deal, the next thing you’re bundled up in bed at midday with your curtains closed, vowing never to try again. Nothing good ever comes easy: the easier it happens, the easier it can disappear. Research has shown that 20% of small businesses fail in the first year, while 50% close down within five years, and only a mere 30% last longer than a decade. To become a successful business owner, you must possess the ability to analyze the market and see what is missing and how you can bridge the gap. At the same time, you have to remember to predict possible mishaps and risks entailed to achieve your goal.
The worst thing you can do when setting up a new business is making yourself the only senior-level person within the company. It’s even worse if you’re not an expert in the field you’re pursuing. Common logic indeed dictates that you try to micromanage everything because the business is your baby. However, even new mothers need help. Hence the famous saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Although you may have the necessary skills to run the business, you will need a reliable and experienced manager and team. As with other companies, the management team will handle the business aspects that you may not have the time for. Some of these tasks include hiring and overseeing other employees, marketing, attending meetings, and even finances.
On the other hand, before you win your first client, you will need to hire a project manager. Through delegated project management, you can bridge the gap between the client and your employees. Clients are more willing to entrust their projects with a trustworthy and dedicated individual, and in most cases, this is usually the project manager. The project manager oversees the whole project and relays the progress and hurdles encountered to both the client and business owners. They also serve as the communication link for the entire team, leaving you ample time to ponder on a business strategy to overcome business challenges. As your company grows, you can outsource more managers to handle different departments. This will ensure that all your business operations, whether current or future, align with your company objectives.
While no one enjoys not having work to do, the alternative can also be frustrating if not well managed. As your company grows, you’ll start getting busier, probably even more hectic than you initially anticipated. Although this is a great thing, handling the heavy workload is crucial in determining your company’s fate. Your employees will soon start feeling overworked and will eventually become frustrated and stressed. You’ll need to work smart, not just hard.
Workload management will help your employees to prioritize tasks effectively and complete them within the set timelines. Below are some of the helpful techniques your team can adopt to improve productivity while still keeping their health intact.
- Create a to-do List
If you prefer things the old-fashioned way, you can ask your team to use pen and paper to create a simple to-do list. They can prepare this list first thing in the morning or at the end of the day to make their targets more transparent. They should note down a list of all tasks alongside their timelines. This list should include even the minutest of tasks. If you’re more tech-savvy, the team can use apps such as Google Tasks and Reminders on Apple iPhones. You can also introduce them to management tools such as Trello, Clickup, and Wunderlist to help with task management
- Focus on Critical Tasks for Workload Management
Now that the lists are in hand, the next thing is to prioritize the tasks. This part is especially crucial because it is easy to assume that all tasks are urgent. Not to mean that other jobs are unimportant, but some are more demanding or urgent than others, hence requiring prioritization. You can use the Eisenhower Matrix, the Pareto Principle, or simple categorization to determine the difference.
- Break Big Tasks into Manageable Tasks
Big tasks often seem challenging and overwhelming at first glance. However, breaking them into smaller tasks makes them more manageable. Soon enough, what seemed impossible will quickly be in your rearview mirror.
- Create Realistic Timelines
Timelines are essential for the success of any project. Creating schedules for even the smaller tasks will effectively help you beat the overall deadlines. Nonetheless, some jobs are more challenging than others, requiring more time to complete. In such cases, it is crucial to be realistic with your team and the client. There’s no need to suffer a burnout just to produce subpar work.
A good leader knows how to delegate. Hire trustworthy and seasoned professionals, and you can rest easy knowing that your projects are in the right hands. Delegating will also help you avoid unnecessary multitasking, as this often leads to mistakes.
No matter your field of specialty, you should always expect a little healthy competition. It’s even more challenging if your product is not new in the market. If everyone chose to give up, then there would only be one bank, one supermarket, one airline company, etc. It would be a pretty dull universe to live in. Despite what anyone else might tell you, don’t lose faith. Grow a thick skin and start managing threats. Employ a strategy consulting team to study your competitors. Doing so will help you understand their product, their services, their clients, and, most importantly, how you can outdo them.
Your team will need to figure out how to make your products and services unique to start you off. In an already saturated market, it is imperative to stand out from all the other businesses out there. Your goal is to ensure that your customers can differentiate your brand from others, and keep them coming back. In this digital era, consumers prefer to first interact with companies via social media platforms. If your business doesn’t have a social media presence, it’s about time to bring in influencers and bloggers. Research shows that about 94% of business-to-business (B2B) clients do their research online before engaging with suppliers or service providers. Long gone are the days when people would open their shops and sit around waiting for potential customers to find them.
Effective communication is vital for the successful growth of any company. How you communicate with your clients can make all the difference between sealing a deal and missing a lifetime opportunity. You should explain your company policies and answer their questions with absolute clarity to avoid any future misunderstandings. Your clients should feel your oozing confidence, enabling them to entrust you with their projects. At the same time, remember not to be overbearing as they can easily mistake your confidence for arrogance.
Proper communication channels within the company are also paramount. If your employees feel like their grievances are falling on deaf ears or encounter hostility when they attempt to address issues, your business will inevitably fail. They will become detached and probably even retaliate by delaying projects or simply not putting in their best efforts. Before you know it, even your best staff will jump ship and join your rivals.
The first thing you need to do is to set up an effective communication strategy. The management team should always check in with the employees. These heads should organize regular meetings where they can collectively engage with their supervisors and department heads. The next thing is to ensure confidentiality is observed when an employee speaks out, as this will ensure that other staff members feel confident opening up.
Most people are quick to pick up on non-verbal cues. If your employees feel like their complaints are going nowhere, they will look elsewhere for gratification. Thus, where possible, it is crucial to allow your employees to make suggestions on tackling problems. Doing so will assure them that they are valued. Take the time to meet new employees if you so wish. Finally, ensure that necessary formalities are observed both in writing and spoken word to avoid any misunderstandings.
A competent workforce is the backbone of any company’s success. Since your company is young, you will have to hire new personnel to fill up the job roles. Not to be taken lightly, this is one of the most challenging tasks. At this hiring stage, you choose the team that will help you turn your vision into reality. That said, you should dedicate a lot of your time in ensuring that you foster excellent communication among your staff as a whole. You should also clearly describe everyone’s role and your company policies from the onset to avoid misunderstandings.
The next thing is to create a culture of weekly or monthly meetings to keep everything on track. Doing so will ensure that there’s no room for slack. During these meetings, you should be ready to deal with different personalities and opinions. Remember to observe both verbal and non-verbal cues, and your staff will return the favor. Although there’ll be teething problems initially, the dust will soon settle, and everyone will adjust.
Another essential aspect of employee management is to motivate your employees by creating reward systems. You’d be surprised how effectively company retreats and end-of-year parties can boost people’s morale. Such occasions provide the perfect forum for your employees to let their hair down and enjoy their hard labor rewards. In addition to these fun activities, don’t forget the much-desired monetary appreciation. Giving your employees annual bonuses can go a long way in improving their performance.
Most business owners fail to understand the importance of customer management. As mentioned, there are probably many other companies doing what your company is doing. So how do you convince your customers to keep coming back? Strategic planning and more marketing! Other than opening a Facebook page or an Instagram account for your company, you can consider wooing your customers with discounts and occasional promotions through other channels. Mid-year and annual sales are still in existence for a reason: because they work. In addition to keeping your current clients satisfied, these offers will also attract more customers and boost your sales. Nonetheless, don’t forget to budget for these expenses.
Another benefit of customer relationship management (CRM) is that it will help you identify and understand your customers’ requirements, zone in on the profitable clients, and create a more personalized marketing technique. CRM also provides a great platform to develop new products and improve your current services. Whether you use outsourced or off-the-shelf solutions, your end goal is still the same.
Your Expert Solution
What works for another company may not always work for you. In some cases, you will be forced to follow your instincts and even abandon initial plans. Either way, you have to keep reminding yourself business challenges come with the territory and you have to keep pushing through. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help you set up proper structures to steer your new business in the right direction. We’ll also help you navigate the treacherous teething challenges and provide solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had.