As as small business owner, a certain amount of worry comes with the job. Whether it’s employees or work/life balance, these worries can keep you up at night stressing you out. With that in mind we’ve made a list of nine things which keep many business owners up at night. Not only that, we’ve come up with some pretty great solutions.
1. Cyber Security Concerns
These days everybody is concerned about cyber security, yet in most instances companies have no choice but to establish a web presence. With the number of hacking incidents continuing to rise, it is no wonder that the issue has become a big worry for business owners. Business concerns with more intellectual property and other sensitive information to protect have the most to worry about. In some cases, the sensitive data they need to protect may not be their own but those of their clients.
While there is no denying the need to sell, or at the very least, promote products online, your website should be protected by procedures designed to ensure security and data privacy. You need to reduce data security risks, which can be done in the following ways:
- Bigger companies and those requiring the highest levels of data security can, and perhaps even should, hire their own in-house cyber security experts who will Install and maintain security software, establish procedures, issue permissions and passwords.
- Small to medium enterprises may opt to avail of cloud based services which offer differing levels of security based on their needs. It may also be prudent to acquire the services of your own cyber security expert on a temporary basis when selecting the most appropriate cloud based security service package.
- Use a credit card or payment processing company to handle online sales. They handle the risk and consequences of data breaches containing customer information so you don’t have to.
2. Physical Security Concerns
All entrepreneurs have concerns about physical security which may include their goods, their facilities and their people. The nature of business often dictates the degree and type of concern they may have. Businesses with inventories of small high-value items like jewelry and smart electronic devices would be more concerned about theft, robbery and pilferage. The worries about physical security do not stop there. Businessmen worry about fire, natural disasters and equipment failures.
A lot of companies employ some kind of access control system which include sturdy physical barriers, plus ID’s and ID card readers. In most cases the addition of strategically located lighting, alarms, video surveillance and recording effectively deter theft from outside elements as well as from within one’s own workforce.
Facilities requiring higher levels of security should opt for physical security personnel at entrance ways and within their facility. To be sure your physical security measures offer adequate protection you should consider hiring security experts during initial implementation and for periodic security audits. One other option is to engage the services of professional security companies which can provide 24-hour monitoring services.
You should also have your assets and facilities properly insured against fire, theft, accidents, equipment failures, and any other risk which may be associated with your business.
3. Maintaining The Proper Balance Between Work And Personal Life
When a business is starting out, the owner often works with very little resources and have to do a lot of different types of work to save money. Some of the tasks small entrepreneurs take on include bookkeeping, cashier, inventory control, and even janitorial work. And as the business grows, the work may keep piling up on the businessman and literally leave him no time for enough sleep, aside from worrying about how to cope.
Nobody can do everything. That applies to business as well. Trying to do everything just gets everything half-done, and that can result in expensive and dangerous consequences. Some examples are erroneous tax returns, wrong cash flow projections, etc.
When you really need professional help, the least expensive option is to hire the right people. But nowadays you don’t have to hire full time help unless you need to. There are companies who provide temps for a wide range of jobs. You can outsource even small tasks to online contractors to avoid the hassle and expense of hiring full-time employees. Outsourcing frees you from having to worry about labor regulations, office space & equipment and you can always terminate the contract whenever you please.
Recognize that your most important function is to manage; every other task can be assigned to someone else. Learn to delegate properly so that the load gets spread more evenly. If you study work processes you are likely to find ways to improve efficiency.
4. Retaining Key Employees
Many entrepreneurs often lament the fact that some employees move on once they have gained enough experience. Every businessman knows that employees are not created equal; some have more skills, some have more drive, and a select few have more of both. Some individuals are blessed with just the right kind of skill, drive and charisma which make them almost indispensable to the companies they work for. It is the loss of such key employees which give many business owners sleepless nights.
Identify key employees early on and make sure their efforts and contributions are properly recognized. The first element of recognition is proper compensation. You have to ensure that your key personnel are remunerated to a level where they would not be tempted to move to a competitor’s company.
Recognition also means making certain all your employees, most especially the key ones, know their efforts and achievements are appreciated. In some cases saying thank you may be enough, but when formal recognition programs are in place, token gifts would be appropriate. The gifts could be anything from a handwritten note, a formal certificate of recognition, a handbag or a weekend adventure pass; the more personalized the better.
Other than that, pride in the company and its products is often enough to keep some employees from seeking greener pastures.
5. Having Enough Cash
The goal of every business is to be able to provide more with less, which really defines profitability if you think about it. Thus, many entrepreneurs worry about not having enough cash. The cash may be for operational expenses, for expansion or for capital improvements; all of these are aimed at getting the business to operate on as lean a budget as possible while obtaining the same or better results. Customers demand a bigger bang for the buck, and you usually have no choice but to try to operate on a shoestring budget to achieve that.
There is nothing wrong with trying to produce more with less – efficiency is something we all strive for. But whenever you cut your budgets close, make sure you have your numbers right. A cash flow projection prepared by a competent accountant is indispensable. It is also necessary to have a plan B in place just in case you find out that you have still underestimated your cash requirements. The back-up can be in the form of a bank or other financial institution from where you can readily obtain loans, preferably at competitive rates.
6. Dealing With The Competition
All businessmen worry about the competition, regardless of their size and dominance. Remember how dominant Nokia used to be in the mobile phone category? Those entrepreneurs who pay no mind to their competition will soon find themselves nudged out of the market. So, entrepreneurs mostly worry about the competition’s upcoming products and marketing strategies; they spend many sleepless nights comparing these to their own products and strategies.
Keep pace with the latest developments in your field. When new technologies are introduced, try to be among the first to try it out – remember that being first is almost always an advantage. Even if you find that the new technology is not beneficial to your business, just knowing is valuable information.
If you want to get ahead of the competition your biggest assets, your people, should be top notch. This means you have to hire very competent and driven people, especially for key positions. Getting your employees trained in the latest and best industry practices is also an investment worth making.
7. Intellectual Property Rights Issues
Companies in the business of developing or producing products with properties which are proprietary have lots to worry about. For one, they worry whether their IP rights are being infringed by other people; the usual guilty parties can be anyone from ordinary people to their biggest competitors.
On the flip side, companies also worry that some of their existing products or ones they are currently developing may be infringing of the IP rights of others people or companies. Such cases can lead to expensive lawsuits.
To ensure you have the law on your side when someone infringes on your IP rights, you must take steps to properly register them. Trademarks, logos, copyrights, and patents are all protected by law. For this, you need the services of legal practitioners specializing in intellectual property protection.
On the other hand, whenever you are contemplating on using a trade name, trademark, or logo, make sure someone else has not registered them before you. There are many IP attorneys you can commission to do proper searches to make sure nobody owns the name or logo you are interested in using.
8. Properly Identifying The Client’s Needs
The worst thing a company can do is be complacent and assume they know all there is to know about their client. This is not lost on most business owners who fret about losing touch with their clients, or having a competitor come up with a product or marketing strategy to steal their clients. People involved in a type of business that is prone to shifting preferences, such as clothing lines or fashion jewelry, have the most to worry about; what may be hot now may be passé in just a very short time.
Never lose a chance to connect with your clients. Nowadays there are dozens of ways to do that without breaking the bank. You can email them, you can set up social media sites to connect with them, you can provide after sales service information through the net, and you can encourage them to join your company’s blog or ask questions through a live chat site.
Make each interaction count by trying to gather as much information about the client as possible. Ask them what they like about your products and what they would have you change. Information you gather will allow you to keep ahead of the pack by highlighting your strengths and making modifications to keep your customers interested in your products.
9. How To Cope With Growth
As a company grows, the owners worry about being able to cope with the increased levels of demand from its clients. On the other hand, they also worry that if they hire additional people now, the increased demand would turn out to be just a flash in the pan and they would be left paying the salaries of people they don’t really need. Entrepreneurs worry about the same things when trying to decide when it is time to add capital equipment or facilities.
When it comes to human resources there are many options available for safely hiring people on a temporary basis. Among those are sourcing from labor supply companies and in some cases subcontracting work to online contractors. This should allow you a chance to test the waters before having to decide whether it is time to hire permanent staff or not.
You can lease equipment and facilities in cases where you are not sure the increased demand will be sustained.
In business, there’s always going to be problems. The good news is that there are also solutions, some of which hardly cost a cent to implement. Hopefully, this list of potential business problems and the matching suggestions for solving them would help you catch a few more winks.