I’d very much appreciate it if you could take part in my poll to find out what the biggest business problems faced by small business owners. It only takes a few more people to get it up to one hundred in the survey.
The Business Problems Poll
Sorry it looks a bit funny but I wanted to use enough words to properly describe each issue. The results appear automatically after you’ve voted with your answer highlighted in bold.
Thanks for voting.
What do you think about the results so far? Are you surprised? Leave me a comment below if you have strong views on these issues.
Otherwise, let’s see what you can do to stop your biggest problem staying your biggest problem.
How To Get Help
The problems covered in the poll are consistent with the Eight Pillars of Business Prosperity, my overall business development framework except for #9 on red tape. I can’t do anything about that.
For a more personalised answer to help put you on the way to solving your problem, why not try my 60 minute free consultation provided your business is based in the UK. I call it a Second Opinion Session (SOS) (click on link) because admitting you have a problem is the first step in getting it solved.
I am also an avid reader and reviewer of business books so if you’d like to see the books I recommend, click over to Business Book Reviews.
Problem 1 – I don’t have control of the key numbers. I am uncertain how the business is performing or where the highest priority problems and issues are.
This is about having the right key performance indicators in place so that you can monitor your business and having a results / performance mindset within you and your team of employees.
There are several clichés about performance measurement that are often said but remain very true because measures set the agenda and focus for work.
- What gets measured, gets done.
- If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it or improve it.
- If you can’t recognize success, you can’t learn from it; if you can’t recognize failure, you can’t learn from it and correct it.
It’s worth reading through those statements again to recognise how important an effective performance measurement system is to you and to everyone else with the responsibility for improving the results and performance of your business and the individual parts of it.
Author Ken Blanchard said “Feedback is the breakfast of champions” and the famous One Minute Manager book looks at setting goals and providing positive and negative feedback to encourage good behaviour and correct bad.
Problems 2 – I don’t have a compelling vision of the future of my business over the next 2 to 5 years.
The saying “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will do” highlights the problem business owners face when they are unclear of their future direction.
It is the root cause of many of the problems covered in Pillar 2, Your Inner Game.
If you’re unsure of where you want to go and what you want to achieve, you can’t set goals and priorities or manage your time effectively.
This has a major impact on your personal productivity and effectiveness and causes your business to zig-zag from one opportunity to another with little coordination.
Internet marketing guru Rich Schefren made a big splash when he identified the problem of being an opportunity seeker rather than strategically developing your business to achieve a clear vision. The most powerful lesson I received from E Myth author Michael Gerber was the idea of using your business as the major tool to live your life intentionally.
Problem 3 – I am unsure of my market position and how I can develop a strategy to delight my customers and beat my competitors.
This is the fascinating topic of finding your niche or special place in your market and how you can differentiate your business, products and services so that you can beat your competitors.
This underpins your marketing and sales and what happens in pillars 4 to 6 and you attract, convert and keep customers.
It’s importance can’t be over-estimated. Author and innovation expert Doug Hall has calculated that a having a dramatic difference makes your business 353% more likely to succeed than if you don’t.
Why? Because if you sell a very similar product or service to your competitors, price, convenience and hustle are likely to determine who gets the orders.
Instead you need to niche and you need to differentiate, what’s often referred to as finding your USP (or unique selling proposition).
Problem 4 – I find that generating leads from new prospective customers is very difficult.
The most frustrating thing about many attempts at marketing done by business owners is that they create a campaign, pay money to get it carried to prospective customers and then they wait for something to happen.
And often it doesn’t or at least not enough to even cover the costs of marketing.
That’s right, by doing bad marketing, businesses are in a worse position than if they hadn’t bothered.
The dilemma is that if you don’t market, you don’t get any business and that means no long term future.
You need to get eyes and ears of your target audience to see and hear your compelling offers.
Problem 5 – I struggle to convert leads from prospective customers into paid for orders and sales
Getting leads isn’t enough and one of the most common errors in assessing the success of marketing methods is to fail to recognise the difference between leads and customers.
Leads cost you time, effort and money.
Customers make you money.
The only value of a lead is the knowledge that some will turn into customers.
In some businesses, there is a divide between the marketing department which creates the lead and the sales department which converts them into customers. Personally I think this is a mistake to think like this.
The business guru, the late great Peter Drucker once said “the purpose of marketing is to make sales superfluous”.
That may be putting it too strongly but marketing can do a lot to pre-condition the particular customer into buying from you.
Problem 6 – I have too many customers who only buy once and I need to develop more sales to people who have bought before.
It’s often said that it costs five to ten times as much to sell to a new customer as it does to an existing customer. That’s because the people who have bought from you before have learnt that they can trust your promises or at least know what to expect.
This means that the majority of the profit you can make from a customer is from second and subsequent transactions.
Unfortunately some companies don’t capitalise on the opportunities that their existing relationships provide and miss out on comparatively easy money.
Problem 7 – My staff drive me crazy. I find it difficult to recruit and manage my employees.
Hah. The best thing about growing your business is that you can employ staff to do much of your work. The worst thing is that you can employ staff who…
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could employ people who cared as much about your customers and your business as you do?
Provided you’re winning your inner game, that’s not going to happen but good and great staff members can transform a business.
Remember the definition of leadership?
Getting ordinary people to do extraordinary things.
Problem 8 – Everything depends on me. I don’t have the systems and processes so the business runs like a well oiled machine.
Sometimes as business owners we are our own worst enemies.
Our actions can bring to mind the saying “more haste, less speed.” We want to make things happen but we can be so busy reacting to day-to-day problems that we never tackle them at source.
The answer is to create systems and processes for the important activities that create a consistently high level of service.
Systems mean that you don’t have to start from scratch every time you do something. They make sure that your employees can give a similar service to you.
But systems also take time and effort to develop and can inhibit continuous improvement because of the rules.
In fact these rules can create big problems for customers with legitimate issues.
“Automate the routine, personalize the exception” is a good rule to follow.
Problem 9 – Too Much Red Tape
I’d love to be able to take this away or to exempt the smallest businesses from many of the rules.
Unfortunately Both you and I are stuck with it. The European Union doesn’t seem to recognise the link between the bureaucratic rules it creates and the impact on business owners and entrepreneurs and how it limits the desire to grow.
Get To Know Me
[sos]Don't forget to download and read my FREE Report - The SIX Steps PROFIT Formula: The Simple Rules That Every Small Business Owner Needs To Know available to download at Six Steps Report (Please click).