Part of running a business is facing up to and managing the business challenges that come your way. Whatever they’re related to, regardless of their complexity, the chances are that you’re not the only one to be facing them. Your response though will most likely be unique and that’s what counts.
Identifying that you have a problem involves developing a solution to solve it. That’s where the setting of goals comes in handy. Sam, whom we introduced before in our article Do You Need a Virtual Assistant, has plenty of goals. Running her business from home, she has quickly become overwhelmed with the share quantity of work she must do. Feeling overwhelmed, she did some research into whether she needs to engage the services of a virtual assistant.
Today we’re going to look at several of the most common business challenges a small business owner may face, and some possible solutions to each. We’ll also identify the ways in which a VA can help you solve your business challenges through outsourcing some of your tasks to them.
7 Common Business Challenges We All Face
Picture this: you’re running a race and up ahead you see some hurdles. The first hurdle is short enough for you to jump over. The second you can dodge (barely). The third though covers the entire track and you can’t see a way over or around it. Do you stay where you are, hoping that others in the race can’t cross it either? Or do you seek out some help, such as borrowing a ladder from the tradesman fixing the nearby fence?
The truth is, we’ve all had, are having or will have plenty of business challenges. The way we handle these dictates how successful our business will be. Dodge them and they could come back and bite you on the bum. Ignore them, and your competitors will leave you behind in the dust. Actively seeking help in crossing them, will place you in the best position to achieve success.
So, what are these challenges? Here are seven of the most common:
- Finances – being short of funds sucks, there’s no other way to put it.
- Marketing – getting your brand out there and noticed is hard work.
- Competition – with so many businesses providing similar products or services, how can you survive?
- Regulations – knowing, understanding and following the rules and regulations within your industry and in general business can be highly confusing and stressful.
- Staff – where can you find reliable and trustworthy staff to help you?
- Time management – you’re super busy and short of time already. How can you fit everything in?
- Uncertainty – where is your business and your industry heading in the next one, five or ten years? How will it survive with all the changes?
Regardless of how many of these challenges you face, it’s important not to panic. They are all manageable, and we’ll look at how to do this next.
How to Solve Common Business Challenges
Once you’ve identified the specific business challenges you are facing, it’s then time to look at how to tackle them. We’ll address each one individually, with some possible solutions to consider.
- Finances – it seems that there is always five places to put each dollar. Rent, insurance, photocopying, wages, uniforms, new supplies and advertising costs can be huge. The key to managing your finances involves setting a budget and cash flow forecast. If you know approximately how much you’ll have coming in and what your expenses are, you’ll find it easier to keep your head above water. One of our VA services is bookkeeping, where we can help you manage and understand your finances.
- Marketing – you need to get your product or service noticed by the right audience. But who and where are they? Social media is one of the most effective marketing platforms, but it is also one of the most time consuming. We can help you by providing a social media marketing package which builds up your social media presence online by specifically targeting your audience.
- Competition – knowing who your competition is and what they are doing is important. You can spend time researching this online, recording down what techniques they are using to gain customers. You’ll also need to identify the ways in which your products or services can differ from theirs. It’s vital that your offerings are unique and that your target market sees this as more beneficial to them.
- Regulations – try to find others in your industry you can trust to discuss the rules and regulations within it. Often there are industry associations or networking groups you can join to do this in. A business mentor may be one solution, as is hiring the professional services of an advisor.
- Staff – should you hire an employee, or would you be better with a contractor? Could a virtual assistant help you with tasks you’re not sure of or don’t have time to do? We’d love to have a talk with you to identify if we can be of assistance to your business.
- Time management – creating a daily schedule can reduce the overwhelm many of us feel, as can prioritising our tasks according to level of importance. Every office or business has work which needs doing, with some work being of a higher importance than others. Often employers find it more useful to outsource work which is non-billable, occurs in routine cycles or is cheaper to let someone out of house do. If it is not central to introducing revenue or giving you a competitive edge, it is most often more viable to outsource. This includes work such as data entry, mail outs, ordering supplies, filing or answering emails.
- Uncertainty – developing a business plan will remove any uncertainty about where your business is heading. Networking with others in your industry, as well as within general business groups will assist with remaining up to date with changes that may affect you.
Let’s look at how outsourcing can help you to manage and solve these common business challenges.
How a VA Can Help You Solve Your Business Challenges
We asked Sam to identify her business goals, and it turns out that her goals were related to overcoming the obstacles or challenges she was facing: managing her finances, time management and social media marketing.
As VA’s, we make it our business to provide the specific support our clients need, including:
- Keeping in contact with your past, present and future clients
An email newsletter is a wonderful and non-intrusive way of gently reminding clients that you and your products or services are ready to make life easier for them. Unfortunately, a newsletter is often the last thing business owners want to do or even can’t find the time to organise one. We can organise and send out a regular newsletter on your behalf using your content.
- Helping you with time management
Staying on top of work and personal life is a bit of a balancing act sometimes. Let us help you with some time management techniques and suggestions of resources to help organise things for you. By delegating tasks to me, we can also free up your time and allow you to focus on crucial work you need to do.
- Doing your business research
Searching the internet for specific information is challenging, especially when you know you have other jobs to do. We can undertake that research for you and not only find exactly what you need, but also create any specific documents or spreadsheets you require with it too. We can save you time to let you concentrate on your other jobs.
- Handling your correspondence
Businesses deal with plenty of incoming and outgoing mail every day. Filtering out what is important, replying to customer inquiries and dealing with spam is time-consuming. We can do all this for you.
- Booking appointments for you
How often have you played phone tag or sent multiple emails to a client or supplier to schedule an appointment? We can organise your appointments for you and remind you when they are, so you do not miss them too.
- Completing your data entry
Data is really important but entering it can be mind-numbing and boring when you have plenty of money generating jobs to do instead. We can do all this for you.
- Marketing your business
Finding it hard to remember to post on social media or find the content for it? We can use social media platforms to market your business for you.
- Posting your blogs
No matter whether you outsource your blogs or write them yourself, finding the time to upload them to your website is difficult. We can do this, as well as other website work.
- Researching what your competition is doing
Want to know what your competition is up to, but don’t have the time to find out? Let us keep on top of it for you, letting you know what they are doing so you can make informed decisions about what your own business will do.
- Organising your online filing systems
It’s vital that you can put your finger on a specific document right when you need it. We can help organise all your online documents in the cloud, allowing you access to them wherever and whenever you need them.