There are many excellent reasons to start a business, including working for yourself, earning more money, having a flexible work schedule and expanding your skill set. However, like all worthwhile endeavors, starting and building a new business is challenging.
If you’re passionate about your business idea, don’t let inevitable entrepreneurial pain points keep you from following through and making your business ownership dream a reality. As most small business owners will tell you, the risks and challenges are usually worth the rewards.
Consider the following four challenges most entrepreneurs face when starting a business and start thinking about how you’ll overcome them.
New business owners wear many hats as they get their operations up and running, often handling sales, marketing, accounting, information technology (IT) and more. However, they likely don’t excel in all areas and may end up feeling overwhelmed.
Entrepreneurs often find themselves moving from task to task, putting out fires with one hand while completing everyday tasks with the other. As experienced business owners know, handling everything for too long is bad for your mental and physical health and can take a toll on business productivity.
How to overcome the challenges of running the operation alone
Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses and understand that your time is precious when running a business. While you can certainly embrace professional growth and learn more, sharing the load is key.
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Here are some tips for handling the myriad tasks required when running a business:
Finding investors and funding is one of the biggest startup challenges new business owners face. Not every business needs an immediate, significant cash infusion, but you must ensure you can keep the business running for the long term.
Here are some best practices for overcoming startup funding challenges:
Attracting customers is an area where many new businesses stumble. After all, if no one buys what you’re selling, you can’t succeed. Ideally, you conducted market research before launching your business to ensure your offerings had a receptive market. Now you must identify your target audience, understand their needs and determine what they’re willing to pay.
To find and attract customers, you must create a marketing plan that identifies the following:
Many new businesses have slim marketing budgets, so low-cost ways to make a big impact are essential. For example, marketers on a budget can consider the following:
Any seasoned entrepreneur can tell you about the challenges of maintaining a positive work-life balance. It’s easy to find yourself on the computer from early morning to dinner, only to spend another few hours at night crossing more items off your list. You may suddenly find yourself manic about work and business-related tasks, neglecting responsibilities in other areas of your life. Exercise, time with friends and family and sleep are often taken for granted.
How to overcome work-life balance challenges
As difficult as it might be, establishing a routine that sets clear boundaries between work and free or family time is crucial. Everyone manages their days differently, but if putting “run three miles at lunchtime” on your calendar makes you stick to the commitment, do it.
If you cross everything off your to-do list by 8 p.m., don’t start diving into tomorrow’s tasks. Spend that extra time with family or consider going to bed early. Your body and mind will thank you.
Entrepreneurs can prioritize tasks via the ABCD method: “A” priorities are crucial for running the business, “B” activities must be done daily, “C” tasks include meetings and other “must-do” activities and “D” activities like web surfing should be minimized.
In addition to the SBA and SCORE, many resources can help entrepreneurs set up and run new businesses.
Your local chamber of commerce likely has educational materials and videos on starting a business. But even more impactful is meeting, mingling with and getting advice from established business people in your area. They can help you navigate local government requirements, point you in the right direction when you need vendors and give you industry-specific advice.
Your chamber of commerce also likely offers various networking and marketing opportunities, including networking events ― (particularly helpful if you have a business-to-business (B2B) business ― directories, trade shows, job fairs, leadership events and lunch-and-learn events.
Consider creating a LinkedIn business profile. In addition to peer-to-peer communication and networking, LinkedIn helps business owners learn about and participate in free webinars, market their businesses and participate in industry-specific or topic-specific groups. LinkedIn also has a small business resource center with free online courses, written resources on various business topics and virtual events.
Do you know someone with experience in the type of business you’re starting? Ask them to become your mentor. A mentorship is an informal arrangement where a more experienced person agrees to help and discuss business questions and challenges with you. Mentors can give you great advice, pose questions and issues you may not have considered, help keep you focused and balanced and introduce you to potential customers, partners or funding sources.
Although you may start with no employees, you’ll probably need to hire some as you grow your business. HR.com is an excellent HR resource that can help you stay on top of employee and workplace-related regulations, taxes and benefits. It has free HR compliance posters you can download and print, industry trends and research reports and thousands of educational webcasts. After you hire your first HR person, they can take HR certification prep courses at HR.com and earn recertification credits.
As soon as your business is up and running, create a Google Business Profile so you can control your business’s information across all of Google’s services. Your Google Business Profile will help you appear in local searches, improve your website’s SEO strategy, give your company credibility and allow you to gather reviews.
Google also provides tools for entrepreneurs at a nominal price ($6 per user per month) via Google Workspace, which includes Gmail, Google Drive, Google Meet, Google Calendar, Google Chat, Google Docs, Sheets and Slides to enable seamless communication and collaboration. Google Analytics, which is free, shows you how many people visit your website, how long they stay, where they come from and other information.
If you have a topic you want to learn more about, Google for Small Business provides courses on marketing-related topics like SEO, gathering insights, starting an online store and using email marketing and digital advertising. Most (if not all) of these courses will point you toward Google’s products, but since it’s the 600-pound gorilla of search and digital advertising, it’s valuable information.
Dave Thomas contributed to this article.