Common challenges for first-time business owners – and how to fix them

MANILA, Philippines – It can be thrilling to finally say that you put up your own business. The hard work has finally paid off and your dream has become a reality.

After the launch phase, what’s next?

It’s not just about seeing your business up and running. As a business owner, you need to start thinking like a leader – to understand what happens behind the scenes, and to have immediate fixes to any problems.

You have responsibility over employees who give their time and effort to your company day in and day out. Think about how the business can continue to grow and improve for the sake not just of your business, but also your people.

Did you do enough research on your market and product or service? Is your capital enough to sustain your business operations in the beginning? What about competition? How do you stay relevant in the market? These are just some of the questions you have to keep asking yourself. 

Think big and approach each business challenge as an opportunity. Take advantage of what technology can offer you to think out of the box and harness your potential for growth.

Here are some examples of initial challenges that you may face as a business owner, and some suggestions on what you can do to solve them.

‘More people need to know about my brand’

The struggle for recognition is real among first-time business owners.

In the local business scene, a good promotional first step is to join bazaars and fairs. Invite people – such as your supportive friends and family – to use your product and recommend it to others. Organic marketing doesn’t cost much but if done right your results will be massive.

Becoming a household name doesn’t happen overnight but taking your business online can also help spread word of mouth faster. It helps if you’re active on your business’ social media accounts to do more promotions, answer queries, or simply create shareable content about your brand. Use hashtags and other simple analytic tools to monitor your reach.

‘I need to learn how to manage my own money’

It’s important to have a steady cash flow for your business to stay running. You must create a steady source of capital by dipping into your current savings, or setting aside a certain amount from your income from your day job to fund you business on the side. You can also opt to apply for a business loan to fund your business operations.

At the early stages of your business, you should continuously see where you can save on costs. For example, you hold meetings and work at your home or in co-working spaces first,  instead of leasing a full office space. You can consider using software that can help you with payment methods to better monitor manage your cash flow.

‘My energy up and health must stay in check’

Getting too excited about growing your business can take its toll on your health. You sleep late, you’re always stressed, you can’t seem to manage your time well, and even forget to eat right.

Maximize technology to make business operations simpler. For example, you can use SmartStore Manager to monitor your inventory and sales in an organized and precise way. Reduce the paper work and use your mobile to manage your own business.

Balance is key. Always make it a point to have time for your personal life and career. Take care of your health so as not to compromise the performance of your business. This is where teamwork can benefit your and your business greatly. If you have partners, divide the responsibilities equally among yourselves. If you’re running things independently, consider hiring someone who can help you out.

‘How can I beat competition?’

In any endeavor, the key to winning is to see the good in the ‘enemy.’ Competition always gives you an opportunity to do better, and this is where your creativity will step in.

Keep your mind open and explore new trends that you can take on. Your success will depend on how fast can you adjust your business to fit the demand of the customers.

Be innovative. Don’t just copy what other businesses are doing. Experiment and be flexible to revise if certain things don’t work. Don’t be too caught up with comparisons and focus your energy and time in your own growth and development.

‘How do I build the right team?’

Don’t settle if you want to get the job done well. It’s easy to find people who want the job, but it’s difficult to spot those who will truly put in effort and time for the tasks. Take the job interviews seriously to spot those who have the perfect mix of talent and good attitude.

Once you have the right team, make sure that you practice good communication. Level it up by taking advantage of the services you can avail online. Maximize your team’s time by allowing them to work remotely. Meet, brainstorm, and check up on each other constantly and on the go.

In your journey as a business owner, there will be more challenges aside from this set – the key is not to avoid them, but to know, instinctively, how to fix them when they happen. Build the mindset to be a problem-solver and hone your strategy-making skills. Use technology to stay inspired, updated, and abreast of what’s the latest. – Rappler.com