It’s no secret that it takes a tremendous amount of persistence and dedication to be a small business owner. Here is another hardened fact: it takes just as much patience and fortitude when starting a business.
Though social media constantly promotes ads, seminars, and entrepreneur success stories, every business vision is different and there is not a “one-size fits all” method for successfully starting a business. If you ask seven business owners from the same industry, selling the same or similar product of their start-up challenges, each of them would provide different responses. By no means am I stating there will not be common challenges; what I am stating is that these seven business owners have had to overcome challenges directly related to their individuality businesses.
However, there are ways you can resolve common start-up challenges and create a sustainable business of your dreams.
Here are five common challenges and how to resolve them:
1. Deciding on a business name
Choosing a name is one of the most important components of your business AND often the most challenging. Understandably, the name of your company will become the starting point of your brand. It is how you will identify with consumers and how your consumers will identify with you.
So, if you ever wonder where to start, look into the future. Where do you see your business in five to ten years? What do you envision for the longevity of your product(s) or service(s)? Will you expand to other products or services? As you are seeking to develop a name, always remember that your name has to reflect not just the “here and now”, but also the future. The reason you look into the future is to ensure the business name you choose will grow with the vision of the business. Plus, if you have the business name designed within a logo, a change will incur make-over costs. This is something you absolutely want to avoid. Last, restrain from choosing a business name that is characteristically personal to you. A business is not a hobby and while, yes, it will be your business; you should treat your business as a separate identity from yourself and base the business name on your service or product (and the growth of it).
2. Deciding on a logo
Now let’s talk about the “mother” of all challenges when starting a business (after deciding on a name, that is). Just as a business name is the identity of your business, deciding on a coordinating logo is nearly equal in importance. A logo becomes the “face” people immediately associate with your business. It is how you will market your brand(s); as well as, become the main ingredient of your brand consistency.
If you already have a logo in mind from the onset of your business, kudos to you! If you are finding it a challenge to design a logo, consort with an experienced logo designer or logo design company. They specialize in turning concept into reality. Additionally, a designer will provide multiple design options, which will help stimulate ideas of how you would like your logo to look. Never settle on an average logo, as that logo can become your legacy.
3. Industry knowledge and effective marketing for the right consumer
There is a common misconception in business that just because you are “good” at something or “knowledgeable” of a specific service area or product it will equate to immediate success. The harsh reality is that all of the information you think you know will not provide you with information on the industry (either worldwide or within your city/state). Industry knowledge is important for many reasons, but the main one is revenue. Nothing attributes to revenue more than effective marketing to the right consumer.
Knowing the industry will provide areas of service or product saturation, over-saturation, and gaps. While no business owner should be afraid of competition, finding areas with service or product gaps will decrease the marketing challenges and (hopefully) increase revenue. So, be diligent in your industry and market research!
4. Finding the right invoicing method
Let’s face it, no small business owner creates a business without first considering the revenue they want to make (even if it does not result in large sums of money).
One of the most challenging decisions in a start-up is determining “how” you will collect money for the work you do or the products you sell. Do you want the invoices to be generated automatically? Do you want to use invoicing software? Do you want to be able to quickly access invoices via a phone/iPad/tablet application? Or would you simply prefer to accept cash only (which quite frankly is an awful idea in a world of electronic payment methods and virtual payment capabilities)?
With all of the applications (i.e. PayPal) and accounting software, the decision of your invoicing method should be based on:
- price for your business budget,
- invoice quality sought (design, image, capability, etc.),
- invoice processing time,
- consumer payment options,
- payment deposit time (to bank account), and
- quality in support services.
In short, the deciding factor in finding the right invoicing method requires defining your requirements in conjunction with your business needs. Last, while price matters, weigh heavily on the quality. This will remove additional challenges of jumping from one invoicing solution to another (which in the end may cost more).
5. Proper planning
Myth: No one “jump starts” a business without proper planning.
Fact: This is the most common challenge among small business owners.
There are countless people who “fall into” business opportunities and go about these opportunities for months before realizing the missed steps needed for sustaining success or running a business. Proper planning can take days (depending on the business), weeks, months, and sometimes years. To mitigate common start-up challenges, consider the following:
- Define the vision of your business (to include finding your niche in the market)
- Financially outline immediate and future business costs (recognizing if there is a need for capital investments or loans)
- Weigh your pros and cons to ensure sustainability and growth in the market
- Write a solid and concise business plan (or hire an expert to write it for you)
Of course, this will not solve all challenges business owners face; however, proper planning will certainly help shape the concept of your visions, as well as, resolve many uncertainties before starting or investing in your business.
When you plan, you prepare. When you prepare, you become informed. When you become informed, you broaden your knowledge and success to address challenges head-on (or solve them all together)!