Australia has more than 2 million small businesses but did you know that Australian business failures increased by over 12% in the last financial year? There are a number of common challenges for new businesses that arise such as arranging funding to get started, choosing the right business, maintaining cash flow, standing out from competitors, finding and retaining customers, determining the right marketing strategies and handling budgets.
Starting a business is hard work and making a successful business is even harder. As a business owner there are many challenges in today’s competitive business world, luckily there are more and more resources for tackling these challenges than ever before. To help get your started, we’ve put together five common obstacles faced by businesses today and paired them with some solutions to allow you to operate an efficient and successful business.
The rate at which technology is changing can be daunting, in fact just as quickly as your business adopts new forms of new technology, it is out of date and a new version has taken its place. If your company doesn’t invest in the correct technology and stay aligned to current customers, there is the risk of missed opportunities connecting with customers.
Businesses produce and rely on large volumes of information including financial information, customer and client records, employee details, and regulatory requirements. This is where systems come in. Technology influences your business’ operations across all areas including customer service delivery, expenses, data storage, and streamlining business operations. It’s important to continually look at new opportunities for your customers such as apps and new forms of tech that can increase efficiency.
Without the right information management systems it’s near impossible to stay on top of all this documentation and use it effectively. Investing in the infrastructure that is right for your business will pay off in the short and long term. New technology increases your business’ efficiency performance so it’s important to stay ahead of the game to ensure long term stability and growth. By putting these systems in place you will be running effective operations that are efficient and save you time and money!
When it comes to data storage, cloud data storage solutions such as Google Drive and DropBox are the go-to option for small businesses. Accounting software will help crunch numbers and manage invoices to ensure things go smoothly at tax time, inventory management will help keep track of your costs and profitability, and communications such as phone systems (like iiNet BizPhone) and internet access will help you maintain communication with customers and suppliers. If you’re not sure what phone and internet systems you need, fill out our Business Health Check online and one of our biz savvy team members will get in touch to ensure your business is ready for action.
In order for your overall business plan to work out and all your tasks to be completed meaning it’s important to master those time management skills. While your to do list may be ever-growing, try not to pack everything into your calendar and miss out on your down time.
Over committing can lead to burning out so prevent over doing it by identifying what’s important and prioritising the deadlines accordingly. If you miss something along the way that’s okay – if it’s important it’ll pop back up. There are a number of different types of task management software available for your business that will help you to delegate and boost your own and your team’s productivity. Evernote Business, Monday.com, Microsoft To-Do, todoist Business and Remember the Milk are some apps and programs that will help you get the thoughts from your head and onto paper and ticked off.
Healthy cash flow is an essential part to running a business and keeping it afloat. Having a constant and reliable cash flow is the biggest hurdle faced by many business owners and it’s essential to stay on top of all finances to ensure success and long-term survival and prevent emotional stress chasing up payments.
Planning and budgeting are integral to staying on top of your businesses inputs and outputs. Instead of waiting for invoices to be paid, cash flow can be assisted through the implementation of deposits and closely monitoring invoice payments. When starting out, shop around and get multiple quotes on large-ticket items and ensure that you have a contingency reserve for possible cost overruns. You can also plan to ensure that your vendor’s invoices have longer payment periods on them than customers to allow you to finalise your invoices with them once you receive payment.
When it comes to tax time, apps such as the ATO app allow you to record your expenses and receipt via your phone so they’re all in one place. If you’re looking for software to automate the process by keeping track of receipts and arranging reimbursements, you may wish to consider Expensify, Quick books or Xero. If you’re a freelancer, keeping track of your billable hours is essential to getting paid correctly so check out Toggl to easily record your time allocations throughout the day and see where your resources are being allocated.
Unfortunately you can’t expect customers to just turn up anymore. You need to attract prospective customers by delivering the right message at the right time. Finding the best ways to market your brand and who to market to can be confusing when you start out but try not to target everyone. Getting your marketing right can increase your return on investment and brand recognition, so it’s important to determine efficient and targeted marketing strategies from the start.
When it comes to marketing, find your niche and determine the best channels for your business. It’s not possible to develop a solution for everyone so ensure you do your research and find your target market and what your product or service means to them. Once you’ve found them, determine how you will reach them.
While you may outsource some marketing, don’t forget the social channels. These are free and are often one of the first places people will go to reach out to a brand or check opening times and products – so give the people what they want. This is also where they talk and word of mouth is the best form of advertising so don’t be afraid to ask current customers to recommend you to others. If you want to plan your social media in advance, you can use scheduling platforms such as Hootsuite and Sked Social. If graphic design isn’t your thing, website such as Canva will allow you to easily develop posters, brochures and social media assets. Another great way to communicate with your customers is through email marketing. Email marketing platforms such as Mailchimp allow you to easily design email campaigns.
Customers expect instant customer service and often when it isn’t delivered they hop straight online to share their experience with the world. Staying contactable across all platforms can be difficult and require coordination, so how can you ensure that you deliver the best customer service with a small team?
We know about customer service from experience. A lot has changed since iiNet’s founding in a suburban garage in 1993, but our passion for delivering amazing customer service has remained the same.
Be available and contactable. Customers don’t like when they can’t contact a business and this can often lead to missed sales. With so many channels for customers to reach out on, you should be available as much as possible and have timely and professional responses either instantly or within the first few hours. If you’re in and out of the office, take advantage of tools such as call forwarding, business SMS, and voicemail to email so you never miss an opportunity. In fact, if you’re looking for a phone system, iiNet BizPhone can help here. When it comes to written communications, ensure to regularly check emails and social media channels for post comments or messages from prospective or current customers and refrain from using automatic responses. Make your responses personal and unique to the enquiry. Remember that everyone who visits your page or sees your posts will see the comments you receive so if you receive a negative comment respond straight away and reach out to rectify the problem so that people can see that you care for and help your customers.
Do you have a top tip for maneuvering common business obstacles? Share it with us in the comments.