The first few months of the year are always a good time for reflecting and planning ahead. As a small business owner, you sometimes face challenges that are unique to your individual situation, but you can also face some of the same challenges as larger companies. The difference is that you have to rely on your own insights and those of your mentors to try to find solutions that are just right for you. Here are five big issues your small business might be facing in the coming year, and a few ideas on how to address them:
1. Marketing Issues: Big businesses have teams of marketing experts to lay out their strategy for the months ahead, but you can manage this on a smaller scale as well. Put aside some time before the end of the year to set your marketing priorities for next year, and assign a calendar to those activities. Do you need to improve your website, work on email communications, develop a social media strategy, or lay out an editorial calendar for your blog? Those are achievable when you have a plan.
2. Self-Assessment Issues: It is sometimes hardest for entrepreneurs to honestly analyze their own capabilities. They continue pressing on, thinking they have the necessary skills, only to find that they are hurting their own business. Talk to a mentor or trusted advisor about your strengths and weaknesses, and don’t be afraid to pay others to help you out when needed.
3. Time Issues: Do you find yourself being pulled in many directions at once? Many successful entrepreneurs find that they need to closely schedule their time. They will put aside one hour to strictly return telephone calls or answer e-mails, and rigidly adhere to that schedule. This allows them to focus on one thing at a time, and they find their mind is often clearer for addressing other issues once they have been able to cross at least one thing off their to-do list.
4. Customer Issues: If customers are the lifeblood of any business, a significant portion of your time needs to be spent addressing how to find new customers and how to keep the ones you have coming back. Especially in today’s fast-paced communication world, prospects and customers are likely to flit from one opportunity to the other. It is almost like a “shiny penny” effect – they are happy with what they have until something that seems to be better comes along. You need to keep reminding your current customers of why they do business with you, while at the same time sending a constant stream of communications to potential customers to tell them why your business is better.
5. Money Issues: This isn’t unique to small businesses, but you must keep on top of your cash flow. Carefully monitor your accounts receivable to make sure money comes in when it is supposed to, and watch those expenses like a hawk so you don’t overspend.