The 5 Biggest Pain Points Small Businesses Face

Small businesses that ignore their pain points do so at their own peril. Here are the five most common pain points and how to address them.

1. Cash Flow

All businesses need to be vigilant that their revenue covers operational costs, as well as the cost of goods and financing. Late payments by customers or other mishaps can impact the balance sheet, as well as the general health of your business – especially if you have smaller margins and reserves.

What can you do?

  • Stay on top of your accounting! Make sure your books are always up to date so you always have an accurate picture of your finances. You want to be able to make the best decisions, based on accurate data.
  • Build up a cash reserve. This may mean paying yourself less for a while, but having that cushion could really make a difference.
  • As much as you want to keep your customers happy, you will need to draw the line when it comes to delinquent accounts. Stay polite, but keep firm. Take formal or legal action if you have to.
  • That said, offering customers easy ways to pay may help a lot, such as through a digital online payment system. Truthfully, in this day and age, you could be at a competitive disadvantage without one.

2. Online Marketing

Just because you don’t have the marketing budget of a large company doesn’t mean you can’t convert customers effectively. As consumers become more tech-savvy and Internet traffic continues to grow, you will need to make sure you are in a position to get a piece of the pie.

What can you do?

  • Get a handle on content marketing. Company blogs and social media campaigns (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, just to name a few big platforms) don’t have to be expensive. Just make sure you are consistent. Post regularly, preferably at the same intervals. There are many online tools to help organise your postings. Make sure that your posts appear more informative than sales-oriented. 
  • Pay attention to your best customers. This can help you hone in on the best target audience for your marketing campaigns. In addition, if you can somehow showcase them – and what you’ve done for them – on your website, you can attract similar customers.
  • Stay connected with your customers with email marketing. Provide them with engaging content – informative as well as sales-related – on a regular basis to inspire repeat business. This is also a great way to share your newest blogs or customer success stories.

3. Customer Service

Good customer service is integral to the success of any business. Building up a good customer base isn’t just about attracting buyers but also about keeping them. Sales are great, but repeat sales and referrals from happy customers are even better.

What can you do?

  • Make sure you monitor your social media accounts in addition to posting, so you can respond to any questions, concerns, or feedback right away. No one likes to feel ignored. Conversely, businesses that are able to respond quickly are favoured more highly than those perceived not to be listening.
  • Always remain polite and diplomatic, especially online. The Internet never “forgets”. Even when dealing with a difficult customer, maintain a professional and helpful tone. Take their concerns seriously and offer solutions. Others are watching how you respond to customer complaints and queries, so keep your best foot forward.
  • Keep your website up to date and accurate, and make sure your customer service is on the same page. Customers hate conflicting or inconsistent information. If your website says one thing but your salesperson or customer care representative says another, it will erode customer trust and does not look professional.

4. Employees

Finding good people can be a challenge. Keeping good people can be just as hard, especially if you’re worried that your salary packages may not be as high as those offered by bigger companies. What’s important to remember is that money isn’t all that people look for in a longer-term job.

What can you do?

  • Hire an effective management team. You’ll be surprised at how often people leave jobs because they don’t like their supervisors or don’t have confidence in them. Ideally, you want managers who know the business and how to lead by example. Find people who have the emotional intelligence and soft skills to communicate with employees.
  • Make sure your employees feel supported. Provide a platform for employees to voice concerns and offer ideas – and respond with appreciation. Provide employees with feedback as well so they know how they can improve their status in the business.
  • Engage your employees. Studies have shown that employees who feel invested in the business tend to stay longer and work harder for the company. Show employees how their work is helping the company progress towards its business goals so they feel they have a stake in the success of the business.

5. Time and Stress management

It’s not uncommon for small business owners to wear multiple hats in their companies, simply because they don’t have the luxury of multiple departments and the ability to focus only on growing the business. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations and to get overwhelmed by the “to do” list.

What can you do?

  • Keep up with technology that can help you run the business more efficiently. Automate where you can. For example, there is a lot of specialised business software out there that can help you track accounts, do your payroll, and other administrative tasks. 
  • Where appropriate, hire independent contractors for certain tasks, such as building and maintaining the company website, designing and implementing the new social media marketing campaign, or making promotional materials. If you don’t have the know-how and capability to keep it in- house, hire a freelance professional.
  • Make sure you allot time for self-care. Being a small business owner is neither simple nor easy. It’s tempting to burn the candle at both ends, especially at the beginning, but you burning out will impact the business more detrimentally than if you manage your expectations and delegate where you can.

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