Keeping your small business going can be scary, take a lot of work all while being incredibly rewarding. If you manage your own business, you know how challenging some everyday tasks can be. Here are the top five scariest things we’ve encountered when running our small businesses at Alkaloid. What might you add to the list?
1. Managing Money
Picture this scary scenario: It’s time to pay your small business employees, but you’ve had to dip into your personal savings (again) to make sure things keep running smoothly.
First off, you’re certainly not alone when it comes to financial struggles. In a survey by Capital One, “Most small business owners report using their own savings to start (77%) or expand (50%) their business.”
With the economic challenges that business owners face, it helps to go into the months ahead with a plan. There are a few online resources for building out your company’s budget, to ensure you make the most of every penny earned.
It might also help to work with a small business accountant for your peace of mind. They’ll be familiar with the ins-and-outs of things like filing your taxes, setting up LLCs, etc.
2. Finding the Right People (that aren’t scary)
Welcoming new team members is exciting, but if you’ve ever had to let an employee go, you know how challenging it can be to build a solid staff.
According to Capital One’s survey of small business owners, “When recruiting new employees, small business owners say it has been challenging to find qualified candidates and to pay them competitive wages.”
In fact, these are hurdles that many of the business owners couldn’t overcome in 2022, and “a majority (75%) have not hired any new employees in this period.”
There are some ways you can work through these hiring challenges, and it starts with a good business strategy:
- Establish your business values first. When you set a foundation for the kind of business you want to build, and develop your company values and goals (along with a solid business plan), you’ll attract the right people.
- Give new hires a test run first. We (usually) don’t marry someone after the first date, so it makes sense to give everyone time to get to know you and your business first. Working with a new employee means having an onboarding process AND a trial period, to see if the relationship is a good fit.
- Hire subcontractors. You don’t necessarily have to bring on new team members if you want to stay small. Things like marketing newsletters and accounting don’t have to be done in-house, and you can find people who are trained to do those things quickly.
3. Firing a Client
There are a few reasons you might need to stop working with a client:
- They’re disrespectful to your employees.
- They take up more time and energy than you can handle.
- They’re not transparent about their business practices.
Sometimes client relationships just don’t work out, and can wind up costing us more than they’re paying. I learned from my father (who ran a businesses for 35 years) that not one client should represent more than 10% of expected revenue. That is risky and scary!
If you want to ensure that you find the right clients (and they find you), go back to your business plan, values, and goals. Many times, when we revisit these key documents, we’ll find areas where we can clarify what our ideal client relationship should really look like. In fact, it’s recommended that you revisit your business plan/strategy a few times a year, to ensure you stay on track with client goals. (For more tips on doing a business audit, check out this recent blog.)
4. Fear of Failure
For many entrepreneurs and business owners, imposter syndrome is the biggest roadblock to their business success. Feelings of “I’m no good at this” or “I’m not an expert” are actually highly common among entrepreneurs and business owners. Really this imposter syndrome is just a fear of failure.
But according to Forbes writer Pia Silva, “understand that the feeling of imposter syndrome is natural when you are growing, so try to embrace it. It means you’re stretching yourself to new heights, and only then can you achieve greater things in your business and life.”
You can prevent imposter syndrome and other anxieties by staying prepared (remember to review that business plan), and by following a few extra guidelines:
Learn to ask your team (or friends, family) for help. Don’t wait until you’re completely overwhelmed and drowning in tasks. Reach out to your people about what’s going on, even if it’s just to vent.
Connect with a community. Coworking spaces like Alkaloid have a built-in network of entrepreneurs, freelancers, and remote workers who are all going through similar challenges, and can be a huge support when you’re feeling stressed.
Stop self-sabotaging. Even if you’re not arguing with yourself out loud, the negative self talk has got to go! Instead of criticizing yourself for what you don’t know, take a look at what you’ve learned and already built. “You don’t have to apologize for what you don’t know or tell people how much you don’t know, but you CAN qualify yourself with your experience,” suggests Pia Silva with Forbes. “Saying things like, ‘After working with ten clients, I can tell you I’ve learned THIS,’ takes some of the pressure off.”
5. Finding An Office
Figuring out where you want to grow your business can also be daunting for small companies. There are rental costs to consider and work-from-home trends on the rise, which keeps many business owners from expanding beyond a home office.
Most of us don’t want to deal with pricey leases or scary unknown maintenance issues that can crop up in an office building. So start by writing up a list: Think through the pros and cons of different work models for your business. Will employees be working remotely? Do you want to ensure that team members get time together IRL?
Coworking spaces give business owners a lot of flexibility when it comes to office space. Whether you’re a team of two or 20, coworking communities come with options for private offices or open desks. At Alkaloid, small business owners don’t have to worry about things like setting up the internet or finding space for meetings, because it’s already built into the coworking membership.
Running your own business can be dark and spooky sometimes, but with a positive mindset and a solid business strategy you can always plan ahead for brighter days.