By Marie Lopez
It takes a fearless person to start up and run a successful company. Yet, with all the risks involved in running a business it’s a given that there are certain aspects that keep business owners up at night.
Earlier this year, we conducted a survey asking business owners to identify their pain points. After tallying the results, here are the top five most commonly mentioned pain points and how to solve them. Our team of experienced consultants have responded to the pain points with actionable solutions that can enhance any business.
The first step to enhancing your sales strategy is to determine your target market, which is defined as unique groups of people or businesses with common characteristics at which your product/service is aimed. Next, establish your value proposition. This includes determining the unique qualities of the product/service you offer that will attract your target market and differentiates you from your competitors. Finally, develop an efficient and effective lead generation process that will qualify leads in your target market better and faster than before – Rick Berard, Consultant
2. Cash Flow Management
Cash flow management is one of the most common issues businesses face. This challenge is exasperated when a business is growing because more materials, talent and resources are needed to support growth. It is important to have an accurate cash flow forecast report that is reviewed regularly. A few other strategies business owners use to relieve cash flow are negotiating vendor terms and utilizing debt. Negotiating terms works especially well for businesses that purchase a lot of materials, such as manufacturing or construction. Many business owners don’t realize that they can negotiate better payment terms. Another way to get some cash flow relief is by utilizing debt. Many small businesses are adverse to adding debt and prefer to go with the bootstrap approach. This approach can make it much harder to grow. A business loan can be instrumental to preparing for more sales and leveraging business profits. – Erin Hoffman, Senior Consultant
3. Communication with Employees
Often, clients will have issues giving their employees developmental feedback, specifically when the employee pushes back or makes excuses for why a task is never correctly completed. The first step to resolve this is to gather the facts and pinpoint multiple specific examples of the recurring issue, including each excuse used. Then, focus on the pattern of behavior and stress the impact of their actions. Continue to bring the employee back to the desired result and the need to break the pattern of behavior, no matter where they try to take the conversation. Involve the employee by asking them for recommendations on how to achieve the desired result and gain their commitment to take the agreed upon action. This will allow the manager to hold the employee accountable if the issue continues. Above all, always act as a resource and continually coach the employee to maintain an open line of communication. – Jill Dagion, Associate Consultant
4. Time Management
Instead of trying to manage your time, shift your thinking to managing your priorities. Time is beyond our control, so make the most of your time by tackling the most high priority tasks. Delegate to others within your pipeline to ensure the timely completion of tasks. Use the Freedom Scale, which presents a delegation structure built on trust. Start by outlining your expectations and be sure to check in with team members to help them learn from their mistakes and become stronger than before. Also, learn to say no! Don’t fall into the trap of being the bottleneck for every decision that needs to be made. Not only will that slow down your business, but it will also fail to develop your managers into leaders. Your role is to teach others to be problem solvers and good decision makers. – Michael Gunther, Founder and Senior Consultant
5. Management Style
To understand your management style, first understand your strengths and areas for development. Solicit feedback from your team to ensure that you are aware of and can create a plan for addressing potential blindspots and become strategic about leveraging your strengths. Build trust with your team; if you have trusting relationships and open lines of communication, you can be alerted if/when your management style may not be serving you or creating conflict within your team. Also, acknowledge the fact that what got you here may not get you there; as your business grows and adapts, you may need to shift as well. Leverage feedback, create trusting relationships, and participate in ongoing professional development to ensure you are versatile and can adapt to the growing and shifting demands of your business and team. Finally, leverage your team by building and developing a team that you can trust to deliver beyond your own capabilities. While leading by example is important from a work ethic and integrity standpoint, ensure you have diverse viewpoints and skill sets so your team is stronger than you as an individual. – Diana Ideus, Consultant
Pain points won’t be solved overnight. Take the time to identify the areas for improvement within your organization and don’t forget to focus on your strengths as well. A strategic path to improvement will help to fortify your business in the long-run.