February 2021

Understanding the top three small business challenges

While every business is unique, they all encounter similar obstacles. According to a survey conducted by the Small Business Trends Alliance (SBTA), here are the top three challenges faced by small business owners:


Lack of capital/insufficient cash flow

Businesses need access to financing, and establishing a strong relationship with your banker is one of the most important things you can do. But don’t think of your loan officer as just a potential source of funding. Instead, think of them as a strategic partner.

Take the time to keep your banker informed about your goals and your progress toward them. Schedule a phone call every 60 days at a minimum, and make sure you’re prepared to have a conversation about the whole range of topics concerning your business. Maintaining an ongoing dialogue with your banker not only builds trust but can help them offer solutions to support your progress.

Tip: To be sure you’re always on top of your cash position, take advantage of the latest online tools for cash flow management, like Cash Flow Monitor from Bank of America.


Recruiting and retention

Finding high-quality people for your business is always a challenge, especially when you need to fill the vacancy quickly. If you decide to advertise to fill a position, invest enough time to write an accurate, but enticing, job description. Doing so will narrow the field, so you’re not inundated with unqualified applicants.

Another, more personal approach is to solicit referrals from your current employees and your business associates. They may be able to offer you valuable insights into the character — and work ethic — of the person they recommend for the job.

Lastly, consider hiring on a trial basis. This will give you the chance to learn how the candidate performs, without making a long-term commitment.


Marketing and advertising

Regardless of the size of your business, you need dynamic, effective marketing to help you stand out from the crowd. But a good marketing strategy, like a fine suit, has to fit.

Begin by asking yourself, “What is it that sets your business apart from your competitors?” It could be a unique product, a more knowledgeable sales staff or exceptional customer service. In marketing, this is known as your unique selling proposition, or USP, and it’s the key to building a strong brand.

Next, begin planning which channels to use in your marketing strategy. Keep your USP — and your brand — in mind when developing your website, brochures, flyers and sales letters, as well as your networking and social media strategies.

Remember, economic conditions and consumer tastes may change, but when you have a solid understanding of cash flow, recruiting and marketing, you’ll be prepared to keep your business moving in the right direction.

Visit the Small Business Resources site for additional strategies and ideas.

To discuss your business goals, set aside some time for a telephone call with a Small Business Specialist.

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