The 4 Biggest Challenges to Starting a Business (and How to Overcome Them)

By Dave Thomas, writer
Apr 19, 2012
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There are a number of great reasons why you should start a small business -- working for yourself, earning more money, a more flexible work schedule, building your skillset, etc...

As with anything worth doing, building your own business is not without its difficulties. Sometimes these challenges may seem bigger than they really are, and sometimes they keep us from fully pursuing an idea. But as most small business owners will tell you, the risks and challenges are usually worth the rewards and are worth finding solutions to in order to realize your dream.

Consider these 4 big challenges to starting a business, and if you haven't already, start thinking about your personal contingency plan for overcoming them:

1. Running the show

Having to wear all of the hats yourself can be daunting. Just because you're an entrepreneur and are starting a business doesn't necessarily mean you excel in all areas of business. From sales, to marketing, to accounting, IT and innovation, there are a number of roles you assume as owner of a new business.

How to Overcome This: Be honest with yourself about your strengths and understand that, when you're running a business, your time is precious. While you can certainly look into trainings to help grow your abilities, you may be better off looking to others to help in the areas where you struggle. This could be in the form of a virtual assistant, a contractor to handle certain responsibilities, or even Best Buy's Geek Squad.

2. Finding funding

One of the biggest challenges that you face upon starting a business is figuring out how to fund the endeavor. Not every business requires a large investment from the get go, but you do want to be sure that you are in a position to keep the business running for the long-term.

How to Overcome This: When you're starting a business from scratch, you can seek funding in the form of small business loans or lines of credit, you can fund it yourself through personal savings, or you can try to raise capital. Speak with a mentor at SCORE to get their thoughts on the best course of action for your business based on your goals. And, start rehearsing your business pitch. Whether you sell your ideas to an investor or a bank, either way they'll want to understand what your vision is for success.

3. Getting health insurance

Once you take that step into business ownership, you're likely left without health insurance to cover yourself in case you get injured or ill. It's a small price to pay for the rewards of running your own company, but if you're not one to take risks in all areas of your life, you'll be happy to know that you do have a few options.

How to Overcome This: Look into independent health insurance from eHealth Insurance. Assuming you have a generally good bill of health, you should be able to secure individual health insurance for a relatively low rate. Or, apply for membership at Freelancers Union or some other group or organization that allows you to get group-rate health benefits even though you're self-employed.

4. Time management

Time management is essential, and can prove to be extremely difficult if you're new to building a business and running on your own schedule. At first, you may marvel in the time you have at your fingertips to focus on certain areas of the business, but any seasoned entrepreneur can tell you about the difficulties of maintaining a work-life balance. If you're just starting and working out of your home, it can be easy to find yourself on the computer from 7 in the morning to dinner, only to spend another few hours at night crossing a few more things off of your list. What's more, you may suddenly find yourself manic about work and business-related tasks, only to neglect the responsibilities you have for other areas of your life. Exercise, time with friends and family, and sleep are often taken for granted.

How to Overcome This: As difficult as it might be, it is crucial that you get yourself into an unshakable routine. Everyone manages their days differently, but if putting "run 3 miles" on your calendar at lunchtime physically makes you stick to the commitment, do it. If you cross everything off your To Do list by 8pm, don't start diving into tomorrow's tasks. Spend that extra time with family or entertain the idea of going to bed early. Either way, your body and mind will thank you.

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