By Rieva Lesonsky
Every small business owner faces hurdles on the way to business success. What do you think are the major obstacles in your way? The most common obstacle, according to entrepreneurs in a recent poll by Hiscox, is government regulation, cited by 31 percent of small business owners. Close behind, 23 percent say they lack funding or support, 12 percent have difficulty finding the right employees to hire, and 8 percent say been held natural disasters such as floods or hurricanes have hindered their growth.
More than one in 10 (13 percent) admit that they’ve been sued by an employee, vendor or customer. Almost half of those say the lawsuit hurt their business financially (29 percent), caused the loss of customers (13 percent) or hurt the business’s reputation (12 percent).
Surprisingly, given recent headlines about data breaches and hacking, just 4 percent of small business owners surveyed are concerned about data or security breaches potentially exposing their data or hurting their sales.
How can small business owners get around these obstacles?
- Make your voice heard. Learn who your state and local representatives are, and make your views known to them. Join and support small business organizations that share your views and work for change. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
- Explore your financing options. The time to look into finding financing is before you need it—not when you’re in a cash crunch. Talk to your business banker regularly about growth plans, how much capital they’ll require and how the bank can help you.
- Cast a wider net. If you can’t find employees with the skills you need, tap into local colleges, universities and adult education programs. Consider hiring virtual employees or outsourcing to independent contractors. Reach out to all kinds of contacts—professional and personal, online and offline.
- Protect your business. Develop a disaster plan so you’re prepared for emergencies big and small. Ready.gov is a great resource for this.
- Put insurance in place. Insurance can protect your business against lawsuits, disasters, theft and more, but only if you’ve got the insurance you need. Make insurance a financial priority, and meet with your insurance agent annually to review and update your coverage.
- Protect your data. If a security breach can happen to a huge corporation like Target, it can certainly happen to you. Put processes and systems in place to secure your company’s and customers’ key data and make sure that employees understand and follow those rules. There’s even specialized insurance to protect against data breaches, too.
Challenges aren’t dampening small business owners’ spirits, though. In spite of the obstacles they face, 93 percent of entrepreneurs in the survey say confidence is key to helping them succeed.