Tackling Challenges as a Small Business Owner

Oct 11, 2016 | Uncategorized

Running a business of any size is a major undertaking, and running a small business definitely does not constitute a smaller workload. In fact, running a successful small business comes with its own set of unique challenges that can take the right set of tools, a well-assembled team and a lot of perseverance to overcome. We asked some of our NAWBO members what their greatest challenges have been as small business owners this year, and how they’ve addressed these to continue their success. Here are the three most common challenges we heard about and how you can turn these from roadblocks into milestones.

Client Dependence

Small businesses are unique in that your client base pretty much determines the economic fate of your business. Whether you have nine clients or one, each client has a significant impact on your income and, therefore, business success. If your highest paying client doesn’t pay on time, or if two of five can’t afford to work with you any longer, the struggle is going to affect every aspect of your business in a more direct way than it would a large corporation. It can also be harder to find clients who trust you and your business right away, and the same is true for the opposite: it can be hard to find clients you trust right off the bat.

Sabina Ramsey, owner of Insight International USA and immediate past president of NAWBO’s Buffalo chapter, has faced some of these challenges in her entrepreneurial experience. “I’m an immigrant to this country, so it’s definitely been a challenge to find long-term and stable clients,” she says. “That’s been my priority. We have doubled in revenue recently, but finding long-term clients to trust and who trust me quickly has been the challenge.”

One of the best ways to overcome this is to diversify your client base. Don’t approach and pitch only those clients with the most money or who are the most eager, but think outside of the box about whom you want to work with. Look for potential clients with real passion in how they will work with you, and who are truly invested in their vision or what they can bring to the table. Those types of clients will be more involved and more open to your expertise in aiding them in the pursuit of their dreams.

Assembling the Right Team

Any business, big or small, has a lot of moving parts, and if you don’t have the right people for all those jobs that make the moving parts run, things can get tricky. Make sure that anyone you take on board is dedicated and not only understands but also believes in the greater idea that your business promotes. A person who is working for you just for some extra spending cash just isn’t going to be as committed to it as someone who believes in your vision and wants to be a part of the process.

“My greatest challenge this year was starting a new business (Traveleyez) while also running my existing business,” says Yvonne Garber, founder of Traveleyez and NAWBO Ft. Lauderdale chapter member. “In order to continue my success and urge success for my new business, I knew I needed to seek outside help. So I hired personnel to help me in areas that I’m just not good at, and it helped immensely, because sometimes you just can’t do everything on your own.”

It’s important to remember that you can’t do everything your own—it’s too taxing and won’t allow you to play to your strengths if you try to run every facet of your business alone. Remember to delegate certain tasks to others, which can have some serious benefits, as hiring other people to help run and grow your business allows for others to bring their strengths to the table.

Short on Resources

While you will have some very big ideas for your business, they can be harder to make come alive simply due to a lack of resources. Corporations have whole departments dedicated to particular sectors of business development—for example, a social media team, whereas you might be writing all your Facebook posts yourself.

Christina Livingston, member of NAWBO’s Dallas/Ft. Worth chapter, is a jewelry designer and owner of “Prettied” jewelry who has encountered this in her business ventures. “One of the biggest challenges was finding ways to promote my company,” she says. “I addressed this by doing lots and lots of research, and thinking outside the box for interesting new ways to promote it that would set me apart.”

Luckily, even if you can’t afford the same resources as multi-million dollar companies, technology can offer a significant amount of help. There are multitudes of apps, software and tools to help you reach your goals, for promotion, social media, organization and delegation of tasks, bookkeeping and more.


What happens if I hit a serious snag?

Unfortunately, sometimes we hit lows or encounter problems that there just isn’t any coming back from. Knowing if and when to sell your small business, if you should take on a business partner or what comes next are all questions you might face, but what happens if it’s the last stop?

Katherine Chrisman, vice president of Park Lane Jewelry and board member of NAWBO’s Los Angeles chapter, faced a difficult outcome not that long ago. “Two years ago, I sold my company, Cookie Lee Jewelry, and unfortunately the new owner pretty much ran it into the ground,” says Katherine. “Following that, I had to search for a new direct-sales company, which was a big challenge for me. It was beyond personal pain, I had to figure out my next step to stay afloat. Fortunately, NAWBO was a huge resource of support for me. They helped me figure out what was next, provided support, encouragement and even offered to save me a booth at the next WBC for my newer company.” 

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