Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What small business owners struggle with: getting everything done

It is often said that small business owners wear many hats.  This is usually true, especially during the early stages of a business.  While it is a good idea to keep costs down during the start-up phase of a business, what many entrepreneurs fail to realize is that there isn't enough time in the day to do it all themselves.  I taught a class on entrepreneurship at our local technical college which walked the participants through the process of creating a business plan.  One woman planned to open a small coffee shop and hoped to do it all herself!  I had her estimate the time it would take to make the coffee, bake the pastries, clean the facility, do the bookkeeping, make the bank deposits, buy the groceries/supplies.....  She soon realized that one person could not do it all.  She had to build employees into the business plan.

Employees will cut down on the time a business owner has to spend on the task the employees will be handling once they are trained.  Notice the italics! The process of hiring and training employees takes time and a smart business owner won't rush this.  Employees who are a good fit for the job and are well trained in the tasks assigned to them will help a business grow and prosper.  Employees who are hired with little thought as to their fit in the company environment and are not trained properly can create chaos and frustration for both customers and the business owner.

Employees aren't the only solution to not having enough time in the day for the small business owner.  Using outsourced service providers can free up time and allow the entrepreneur to concentrate on income generating tasks and areas which require the owner's expertise.  Just like hiring employees, taking the time to find the right service provider is the key to successful outsourcing.

Using a calendar is a great way to stay on track.  Block in time for all the key tasks which need to be accomplished and try to stick to the "appointments" with yourself.  Make sure you make tax deposits/payments and filings a top priority as missing key deadlines can be very costly.

The variety of tasks a small business owner tackles is one of the things many people enjoy about being an entrepreneur.  The key to being a successful entrepreneur is knowing when it is time to delegate some of those tasks!

Friday, April 8, 2016

What do small business owners struggle with: Marketing

Many small business owners think marketing means advertising, but it really encompasses so much more.  Marketing determines how a business will promote, price, package and distribute its products or services.  Advertising is the media used to promote a product, service or event.

Taking the time to create a marketing plan before a business is launched is vital to the success of a start-up.  Keeping the plan up-to-date is just as important.  Many entrepreneurs try to save money when launching their business and try to create the marketing plan themselves. an expert is suggested but make sure to take the time to find the right marketing expert for your business.  Ask lots of questions and get a firm quote.  Developing a comprehensive brand at the outset is worth the money and can make a real difference in the success of the start-up.  

Once the marketing plan is set, the business owner may be able to execute the plan themselves.  Having the expert review the results with the business owner once a year is a good idea and allows for the refining and updating of the plan based on the results of the previous period.  

There is a great deal of advertising that can be done at a low price.  Facebook and LinkedIn ads can be targeted to a region or demographic and you can set budgets to keep the costs under control.  A marketing expert can help the business owner determine what their target audience is and what the best way is to reach them.  Many companies don't need to advertise on the radio or television or with a billboard, which are all costly.  They may been necessary, but it is important to make sure before the money is spent.  Having an outside party, like a marketing expert, give advise versus the sales rep. for the television or radio station will prevent the business from spending money on ads which don't reach their audience or are more costly than they need.

A small business can have the greatest product or service out there, but if buyers aren't aware of the company, it can't sell to them.  Unless the entrepreneur has a good background in marketing, it is a good idea to let an expert get you started right.