Every business has their own difficulties that are specific to them, and can prevent them from expanding. At The Women’s Organisation, we think it is so important that our business women try to identify their barriers and learn how to overcome them.
Research from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) showed that in 2011 67% of SME employers had an aspiration to grow over the next two to three years but only about 20% will grow each year.
In the past there has been little focus on the performances of small businesses in relation to growth, with the measurement of growth looking more towards big business. But there are barriers that SME businesses face when they are looking to expand, which can differ depending on factors such as location, industry and structure. However, there are issues and ugly doubts that rear their head at any time in an entrepreneur’s life.
In a series of blog posts focusing on overcoming your business barriers, we are going to look at identifying these doubts and insecurities and think about solutions to overcome them.
You’ve lost your mojo!
We’ve all been here, your get up and go has deserted you and you no longer feel self-motivated, you might even find yourself wondering why you bother with this business. You’re not busy and you can’t be bothered to get busier.
If running your business seems to be a 24/7 job, maybe you need to carve out more of a life outside your business. Earlier this year, the Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology came out with a study of 350 people with a variety of jobs and hobbies, and found that the more people engaged with a hobby the more likely they were to be better problem solvers in their job.
Or perhaps try to challenge yourself within your business, challenge yourself to find ways of attracting new business. Perhaps because you haven’t been trying to bring in new customers, you’ve just been going through the motions. Focus on your marketing, seeing quick results may spark something and help get your passion and mojo back
You lack focus
So you might be really busy, but do you struggle to finish things, or have so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Perhaps you’re bogged down with the everyday tasks and can’t find time for the important ones. You might wish you were more organised or efficient.
Thankfully there are plenty of ways that you can become a more organised individual, apps on your smart phone, detailed diaries and notes upon notes. We would recommend writing a master plan in terms of growing your business. What are the overall aims then break these down into manageable chunks, setting yourself targets, deadlines and rewards. Having this laid out in front of you can look daunting but it’s better than being all up in the air.
Cash flow problems?
Is your business active and busy, but are you lacking funds in the bank account? Maybe your business spends more than it makes, or there is always money tied up in places, so you have insufficient funds to complete your work-in-progress.
Without very diligent cash flow management, or the raising of more funds, a business is often constrained by this. Many fantastic entrepreneurs cannot overcome this obstacle in their business, and cannot understand why lenders can’t provide financing as SME’s don’t always have the security to support the debt.
But the solution is easier than many of us realise. It beings, as most great things do, with a plan. Plans to see what your cash needs are and when your cash needs to rise. Then you are in position to manage it and focus on cash management techniques, making you more likely to be successful in your business.
You have no support network
It can be lonely if you are a SME, and running your own business. There aren’t big meetings where you can talk ideas and brainstorm strategies, and the buck stops with you! Always! Nobody holds you accountable so your plans can often slip behind schedule.
Many entrepreneurs and business owners can feel alone in their business. Check out this fantastic article written by Meredith Fineman; ‘An entrepreneur opens up about how she fights loneliness at work.'
‘Sometimes you need to feel those dips to be happy with the peaks. It's also learning how to disconnect, or to unplug from all that is going on around you in order to focus on what you need, what your company needs, and where you want to go’
You’re finding it difficult to manage your employees, who aren’t working well together as a team. Your staff don’t have any role descriptions and are perhaps underperforming. What can you do to overcome this big barrier?
Sometimes a lack of management skills is a problem that is probably the most difficult to deal with, as in most SME’s, the senior management team is limited. The solution is to determine what the areas of weakness are, and then develop a plan for dealing with those challenges. Once you spend the time recognising a weakness, it is often compensated for without a lot of time, effort or money.