No doubt, nurturing a small business into an established venture is no joke!
As a business owner, you’re always ready to put in your time and effort to get your business in motion. You know what’s at stake, and you are ready to do anything, and everything to make your business work.
It’s understandable if you run your business as a one-man-band, or maybe you’re juggling part-time employment and business at the same time! In the midst of getting your business activities in motion, there are times and seasons when it all feels so stressful to manage!
Let me share with you, 3 business situations that lead to stress, and how you can avoid them.
Lack of cashflow
Cashflow refers to the in-flow and out-flow of money within a business. It is also a measure of business performance. Cashflow can become a serious concern particularly when unexpected costs show up. An extreme situation is when you don’t have the finances to cover these important needs. What do you do when your business has run out of money? A lot of businesses have collapsed here!
During the early stages of running my first business in 2011, I once ran into a tough difficulty; I desperately needed the expertise of a developer. Unfortunately, the business could not afford it financially. The choices were clear; find alternative finance or move on! One important lesson here, is to have a financial plan. Without planning your business finance, you risk getting into financial difficulties that can be stressful to manage.
To maintain cash within your business, you need to earn more than you spend! It sounds easy, but requires a lot of discipline. You can start by putting measures in place to track revenue and expenses periodically. Putting attention on your expenses will help you identify your biggest spends, particularly where you need to apply discipline and control. At the end of the day, the more cash you can accumulate, the stronger your financial capabilities are, as a business.
Doing it all by yourself
I once fell ill for a week or so. During this period, a major part of my business was on a halt. I had submerged myself into so many processes, without realising the major problem I had created through multi-tasking! Doing it all can only take you so far! When you assume the role of founder, bookkeeper, admin officer, accountant, errand boy, social media expert and salesman, to manage a single business, you will eventually burn out. The danger in making yourself everything is that you have also made yourself a single point of failure. If you do it all, you put everything at risk if you are unavailable. Even a short holiday can put your business at a standstill if all responsibilities rise and fall on you.
From my personal experience, I highly recommend outsourcing and delegation of tasks, if you can afford it. For short term jobs, online platforms like Upwork and Peopleperhour make hiring freelancers easier. Although mainly limited to digital services, it is an option for outsourcing. I have hired resource from both platforms and I’ve found them useful.
Pending when your business can afford to hire staff or contractors to take some workload off you, the use of software can help you automate a lot of tasks. Asides freeing up your time, using software will help you achieve better and faster results, particularly timed and repetitive tasks. Software never gets tired, but humans do!
Lack of systems and processes
You will eventually experience strain on your business if you don’t have processes and systems. You may not necessarily have a process for everything, but your core business activities must be covered. For example, how do you store customer data? Where do you keep documents? How do you notify customers on important updates? How do you handle refunds? How are customer complaints managed? Without having clearly defined processes and systems to support your business operations, you will take longer to get tasks done, struggle with inconsistency, and furthermore, you may end up making very costly mistakes.
When I started my first business in web design, I was halfway into a web development project, when the customer decided the business didn’t need the website anymore. Prior to the sudden project termination, the client had only paid a 20% deposit. I got so caught up in a series of unnecessary emails and conversations with the customer over the outstanding invoice. Why? Because I didn’t have a project termination process. Sadly, my business terms and conditions didn’t cover termination. If this was a deal-breaking contract in the value of thousands of pounds, it may have resulted in a very ugly situation. Luckily, it was only a small project that hadn’t taken too much resource. Having clearly defined processes, and a supporting business systems are very important, so you don’t end up in a mess that stresses you as the business owner.
To conclude, running a small business can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to stress you to the point of putting you and your business at extreme risk. The key message here is to avoid stress! Stress harms your health and your business acumen. Consider these tips, and continually protect the future of your business from situations that cause problems such as the ones mentioned in this article.
CMC Partners. 2019. 6 challenges facing small business in 2019. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.cmc-partners.co.uk/blog/2019/02/08/6-challenges-facing-small-businesses-in-2019/. [Accessed 17 September 2019].
Sage. 2019. Sage survey shows impact of admin on productivity. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.sage.com/en-gb/news/press-releases/2017/09/sage-survey-shows-impact-of-admin-on-productivity/. [Accessed 17 September 2019].