What lies ahead for small business? If we had a crystal ball, we’d all know the answer to that question and would be able to plan ahead appropriately so that our small business would thrive and grow. But we don’t, so we have to assess the economic, political and business environment as best we can, and try to make educated guesses about what we can do to be ready for anything that comes our way. Here are a few possibilities about some small business challenges in 2017, and some strategies to get prepared for them:
- Hiring Employees: According to the Wasp Barcode Technologies’ “State of Small Business Report,” a survey of over 1,100 U.S. small business owners revealed that half of them had concerns about hiring employees in 2017. The main challenge is finding the best employee for a reasonable wage, and creating a position that will be able to return a profit on the salary investment. Additional thoughts about minimum wage requirements, health care insurance, taxes, and even office space requirements must be factored into the hiring decision. Hiring an employee can take your business to the next level, but it requires a considerable amount of planning and direction. Perhaps the best step might be to hire a part-timer, freelancer, or intern who can help your business grow while you learn to manage all that is involved in being an “employer.”
- Building an Online Presence: The online world is evolving so quickly it can be difficult for large corporations to keep up, let alone small local businesses. But the challenge must be accepted, as customers and prospective customers alike flock to their digital devices to find information, shop, compare notes and make purchases. If your business is not online with a mobile-ready website, strong social media presence, and ability to connect and engage with customers, then you are probably losing out on business even though you might have the exact product or service they are seeking.
- Increasing Revenue: Strongly related to the first two challenges is the real reason most entrepreneurs started a business – to make money. Once established and over the initial growth hump, however, businesses often find they have hit a plateau and cannot seem to reach the next level. This is when some difficult decisions might need to be made. You may need to raise prices and risk losing customers, it may be time to drop some less-profitable clients, or it may be time to expand your offerings. All of these are crucial decisions which need some time and planning to implement.
- Being an Island: Most small business owners get caught up in the trap of thinking they have to do everything alone, or that they should know everything they need to know. This often leads to near-sighted decisions and poor planning. Rely on your network of family and friends, talk to your customers, join a local business group, and find a mentor who will tell you the truth.