Access to capital is probably chief among the difficulties small businesses currently face.
1.Ability to admit when your knowledge is not enough to handle things on your own and the ability to find the right assistance.
2. Deciding what funding is best for your business and the ability to get noticed by the banks / VC / ect (This is the hardest for me)
3.Finding Great Lawyers
4.The rest is easier if you have worked in and have the knowledge needed to manage the business you are starting, done your homework, and have access talented experienced prospective employees.
There may be a less than obvious issue lurking behind the proverbial bush. What about employee turn-over and productivity? I believe that may be a hidden impact that small business owners overlook.
- Increase revenue
- Increase repeat purchases of loyal customers
- Expand customer database
advertory.com is working on solving this problem by automating the marketing of local businesses.
This is the main challenge that sums up everything: credit lines (cash flow), serious buyers (revenue), hiring power, etc.
I agree with Gordon on the particulars. This is a wide open question.
However, from a concept perspective, I think small businesses struggle most with a lack of specialization in all the necessary areas of business.
Whether the specialization is Sales/Marketing, Accounting, Legal, Operations, or some other facet of business, a business owner is usually only good at one or maybe two of them. Early on, business owners need outside specialists to assist them, but they are often deterred by what they see as an "expense" in paying these professionals while failing to see the importance of reliance on these specialists.
I would heartily recommend the book E-Myth Revisited to any small business owner. This book helps point out the need to identify the various functions within the business and then figure out who will perform these functions. It also helps business owners appreciate the principle of "work ON your business, not IN your business."
As a lawyer, I definitely see a lot of small businesses that need to have an attorney but who think it is too expensive or unnecessary. Meanwhile, they are in violation of a number of employment laws. Many of them don't get caught, but the one's that do get a painful education.
Most small business owners find it difficult to manage their own accounting. If it becomes too expensive for them to hire an in-house bookkeeper, they manage it themselves using software like QuickBooks, Xero etc.
But the issue here is, some small business owners who are not too familiar with accounts find it hard to handle these software. Too much accounting lingo and processes; it's all discouraging. So I think, managing their own small business accounts is one of the biggest challenges of a running a business.
They could consider switching to simpler software like Handdy Jotbook and Handdy Invoices. They are available for free and there's no accounting jargon. Quite easy to use.
According to me, one of the major challenges that small business owners face is operational scalability. Their challenge to improve their TAT and quickly scale up the value chain has always been an intriguing aspect of their business operations.
Most small businesses in Australia are struggling with internet competition (especialy in retail) and are not investing in their growth to keep up with ecomomic changes. I think the biggest challenge for them is that they do not pin down what makes them unique, so they can compete with anyone in the marketplace by being innovative
Keeping and growing profitable sales. Sales cures all if its profitable sales.
This is an impossibly broad question to ask. For example, fixed costs are a major issue in any industry where revenue is in decline or remaining steady. Inflation is harmful to these industries unless they are fortunate enough to be in areas where you can raise fees with or in advance of inflation. Cash flow is generally the biggest problem as it is affected by the slow economy and so forth.
That said, small business owners are as diverse as the population itself and cannot be generalised as having one problem.