Small businesses are constantly forming and emerging in a landscape that is ever-evolving. Due to rapid changes in technology and the economy, businesses are regularly having to adapt to brand new marketing channels, invest in (and learn about) new technology, and often compete on a global stage. Fluctuation is becoming increasingly common, demonstrated by the fact that 1.6 million small businesses have reported either a doubling or a halving of revenue in certain months of the year.
However, despite the many challenges faced by small businesses today, the past year has seen 53% of small to medium-sized enterprises report an increase in revenue, and 23% of small businesses have had to employ more staff due to rapid expansion. For success to be an option, it is important for small businesses to stay aware of the challenges they face in order to rise above them.
With the growing significance and omniscience of the internet, customer service has never been more vital to a business’s reputation. We live in an age where instant gratification is not only easily accessible for customers, but expected by them too. Businesses that fail to provide this instant gratification often risk losing the customer’s interest. This is one of the many reasons that small businesses can find it challenging to keep up with the customer service needs and expectations of the 21st century.
Social media has brought customer services to a wider, more public stage, leading to good customer service becoming not only an art form, but a marketing channel for businesses too. A business’s customer responses, dialogues and feedback on social media form a valuable part of your brand and identity. Reliable and helpful responses can earn a company a top reputation with customers, further supporting the success of your business. Furthermore, in an age where customers find brands and corporations increasingly faceless and less personable, social media interactions can help your business appear more humanized, welcoming and friendly.
Another challenge that can fall under the same umbrella is the challenge small businesses face to maintain a reputation in the age of social media. Customer dissatisfaction can have a much bigger impact on reputations today than was ever possible before. It is so easy for customers to take to the web with their concerns and complaints, voicing them much louder and with a wider reach than was ever possible before the internet. As it becomes much easier for one slip up to seriously dent a business’s reputation, it is becoming vital for small businesses to cultivate and monitor their online reputation with as much care as they would with face-to-face clientele.
Small businesses can face many more challenges when it comes to financial management compared to their larger, more established counterparts. One of the realities of business is that you have to spend money to make money, and reports have shown that 29% of businesses fail due to running out of capital. Furthermore, debt repayment can make growth slow and unstable.
Many CEOs of small businesses are big-picture thinkers, ideas-focused, and less likely to be the most efficient with cash flow, cost reductions and profit margins. Many small businesses often lack a full-time CFO, too. It’s a great idea to invest in financial consultants who can help keep your business stable and growing.
Uncertainty about the future
It is a rare skill to possess sharp insight into the future of the economy and market, and this may not be every CEO’s strong suit. However, customer trends and market trends are key factors in the growth and success of your business, so it can be crucial to find a way to navigate and sail through these trends and changes. As our economic climate becomes more and more changeable, it is a great idea to have team members on board who are astute at reading and predicting cultural and market trends to give your business more promise for the future.
There are so many innovations and changes happening constantly in every industry that it can be a tough challenge to know if and when you should channel valuable resources into embracing these changes. Not all new innovations, technology and trends are born equal – with so many options and choices it is difficult to know what will be the best long term investment for your business. Many potential changes for your business can just as quickly become obsolete.
The best way for each business to make careful, deliberate and useful choices for their future is to listen to informed opinions on the difference between available updates, how they can serve your company in the long run, and how they can lead to future success.
Clay Morrison is a freelance content creator and researcher from Edinburgh. He finished a degree in business development and will start his graduate school next year. He specializes in topic on technology, business, sustainability and safety.