There’s never been a time when businesses had it easy. There have always been issues to deal with. But the nature of those problems changes over time; the challenges that businesses of the 1980s had to deal with are different from the issues of today, just as businesses of the future will have their own set of obstacles to overcome.
You can only play the hand you’ve been dealt, and while today’s businesses have a host of things in their favour, there are also some unique challenges that must be addressed head-on. In this post, we’ll run through some of the most common problems that businesses in all industries face, as well as offer practical solutions.
It’s been unusually difficult for businesses to find staff in recent years. Indeed, in a survey of businesses, 23% said that finding employees has been ‘very difficult,’ with an additional 24% saying it has been ‘somewhat difficult.’ While businesses can’t force people to apply to work for them, they can make their business an attractive proposition to candidates. Stepping up the recruitment process by including brand employee videos, highlighting the perks, and wording the job description in a way that appeals to the top candidates can all help.
Keeping Staff Onboard
As mentioned above, it can be challenging to find staff for those all-important roles. Once you have them, you’ll want to ensure that the employees stay with you. Today’s employees have more power than they did in the past, and they’re willing to move if they receive a better offer. Business owners should endeavour to ensure that their employees have no reason to leave. A member of staff who is well paid, feels supported in their role, receives perks and benefits, and has the opportunity to develop professionally will be happy to stay. If you notice that your employee retention rate is low, these are the key areas to focus on.
Capital/Cash Flow Issues
With inflation increasing prices across the board, many businesses are finding themselves with cash flow issues, often for the first time. With less money to hand, businesses are putting themselves in a precarious position that, if not managed correctly, could spell real danger — the number one cause of business failure is cash flow problems, after all. Moving forward, solidifying cash flow and freeing up capital should be a priority for all businesses.
Some recommended ways to improve cash flow include:
- Reduce unnecessary expenses.
- Hire an accountant to identify new ways to save money.
- Offer early payment discounts to encourage customers to pay on time.
Scaling up, bringing in new customers, and ultimately building greater revenue is a goal for most business owners. Alas, it’s easier said than done, and if a business can’t successfully scale, then they run the risk of being left behind. Businesses can’t stay in survival mode forever; at some point, they need to step things up. It’s an issue that affects some businesses more than others. For instance, it’s one of the leading problems SEO agencies face, while consultants, coaches, and other specialist businesses also find it difficult. The solution for many is to scale up productivity, and that doesn’t always mean hiring more employees or increasing the demands of the current team of staff. It can mean outsourcing certain tasks to third-party companies, which will increase output without overloading internal operations.
Issues With the Supply Chain
There have been issues with the supply chain for years, and things still haven’t gotten back to how they were in the pre-pandemic era. While there are signs that recovery is on track, it’s still a major issue for many businesses — in one survey, it was ranked fourth in the list of problems businesses face. The solution to this issue is to take proactive steps to overcome the problem and/or work to minimise the impact. For instance, businesses that may encounter issues with a product can work to find a suitable alternative or tell customers that they may experience some delays. Investing in smart inventory solutions can also help, as this can give a heads-up that a hard-to-source product is running low.
The importance of technology in the business world is nothing new, but the level of importance has increased in recent years. And it’ll become even more important in the coming years. The cloud, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technologies are finally beginning to infiltrate the business world, and it’s reasonable to assume that it won’t be long before there’s a clear divide between the technology haves and technology have-notes. Businesses should stay abreast of their industry’s technological standards to ensure that they’re not being left behind. In some cases, it’ll be enough to modernise legacy systems, while in others working with an IT consultant to bring the company’s digital infrastructure up to date will be necessary.
Changing Customer Expectations
Standards are rising across the board, and today customers are expecting more bang for their buck than ever before. And they expect those additions without paying extra for services. Two of the most common customer expectations we’ve seen in recent years are eco-friendly products/services and personalisation.
Both of these are relatively achievable regardless of budget, but they do require work. Personalisation requires CRM software and enhanced customer service. Eco-friendly products and services depend on suppliers and the working operations of the business. If you need help making the transition, it’s recommended to work with a consultant.
Finding New Customers
All businesses, even the biggest in the world, prioritise finding new customers. However, it’s more of a challenge for small to medium-sized businesses, who often have to find these customers on a much smaller budget. However, in this day and age, there are a host of tools you can use to maximise your reach and bring new customers on board.
If it’s been a while since you’ve done so, consider putting together a new customer persona profile, which will outline clearly which type of person you’re hoping to reach and convert. Having profiles as detailed as possible will allow you to create advertisements and inbound marketing content that resonates with those individuals. It’s also recommended to review the latest marketing approaches since things may — or likely will — have developed since you last reviewed them.
Low Staff Morale
You’d like to hope that your staff will always be coming to work with a smile on their faces, but that’s not a realistic goal. Keeping staff morale high is the role of the leader, not the employees themselves. In return, you’ll enjoy better staff retention rates, enhanced productivity, and greater collaboration — in other words, it brings benefits across the board.
This has been a priority for many businesses for years, and, as such, there are plenty of well-known methods for enhancing this all-important aspect of running a business. Investing in the individual (via training and personal development plans), organising team-building activities, and actively listening to employee feedback can all help.
There’s no way to run a problem-free business. It’s just the name of the game that you sign up for when you enter the business world. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to simply accept these problems. As we’ve seen above, many issues are widespread and affect a large number of small to medium-sized businesses, and that commonality means that there’s usually a solution. Oftentimes, it’s worthwhile working to prevent the problems we’ve mentioned above ahead of time, rather than waiting for them to impact your business.