Running a successful small business takes time, effort, perseverance and a little luck. It can be a mammoth step-change going from practicing the trade by yourself to owning and operating your own firm, and without the essential support and guidance of experts, business owners will be relying on more than just a little luck.
For instance, there can be many reasons why a particular strategy or business approach doesn't garner the results you desire, but without the experienced know-how of business specialists, small business owners may find they lack the commercial insight needed for their business to be a success.
Naturally, such insights are gathered over a long period of experience – lots of trial and error – and are based on seeing first hand what works and what doesn't. Having worked with small businesses (sole-traders and small firms) for some years now, I have established the following 7 pain points that at some time every business will have to overcome in order to succeed.
1. Lack of Balance
In a recent survey that asked what factors are most important to the UK population, 53.7% said work-life balance was the top concern. And yet according to data from the office of national statistics, almost one in two adults report low satisfaction with their work life balance.
As a business owner, you can spend 28-35 hours a week performing the actual business service, and then still have to run your business; this can be at least another 10-15 hours! Achieving a balance therefore requires reducing the time spent working, which means either getting a better team or utilising better systems.
2. Lack of Profitability
When you work hard, you naturally want to see your business making money. However, most business will suffer at some point from a lack of profitability. In short, if your business costs more to operate than the amount of revenue generated, then it will soon face real problems. But if you employ the correct model and well-established systems this can easily be avoided.
3. Lack of Growth
Business growth is essential, you should aim for growth to be at least in line with inflation, and more if you want to eventually sell for a profit. Therefore if you experience a drop in turnover or a lack of progress across your business activities, it’s time to consider a change or at least investigate further.
4. Lack of New Clients
A business will always need new clients, even if you have loyal and always returning clients. To achieve a steady flow, a full time run business may need N leads per month. Ideally these clients will spend between £X and £Y in their first year with you. Planning for this will help deliver the sustainable growth required. But bear in mind that every aspect of your business affects how new clients invest in your services. From your marketing to your systems, to the way your reception looks, it is essential the clients journey reflect the demographic you want to attract.
5. Lack of Team Trust
For any successful business, you need a motivated team who all perform and behave according to your brand standards. However, developing and maintaining a dedicated workforce can be one of the biggest challenges you’ll face. Remember, any system you create is only as good as the people you have implementing it.
6. Lack of Systems
We talk a lot about systems, and for any business to be a success it needs well thought out systems that underline everything you do. Every part of your business should have a system that exists in a manual that your team can refer to and implement. To begin with this requires a lot of hard work, but will ensure that later down the line, your business is ready for the future growth and expansion you desire.
7. Lack of Productivity
A key component of success for any small business comes down to the individual profitability of every fee-earner in the business. It’s vital to analyse the productivity and profitability of each employee, and to ensure they are always kept busy – and in order to do that you need leads and conversions.
If these pain points sound familiar there are solutions that will help to address them all. In order to fix these points and build your business you will need to optimise every part of it – both through the right use of resources, and through implementing efficient systems and protocols.
The best place to start this is in reviewing your Client Journey and evaluating how you attract and retain new clients. We can help you to optimise this process and generate New Leads to effectively apply the process of attracting new clients and retaining them by building and developing long-term relationships.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Antonina loves a big and bold challenge. An innovative problem solver and leader, she provides a critical overview of project management and business development. Antonina is an experienced and versatile business strategist, consultant, coach and mentor with a proven track record. She has extensive experience in driving growth, cost management, and profits growth for small businesses in the service industry & market.