Small Business Circa 2012
We read an interesting piece the other day in Business News Daily about “The 10 Big Problems All Small Businesses Face.” Ten small businesspeople each spoke about their biggest challenges. What struck us is how similar this list could have been to one printed a year ago, or even two years ago.
The biggest problems? Access to capital, increased competition, getting paid on time, extreme price sensitivity—in other words, all the problems associated with a slowly recovering economy, where banks are lending and people are spending, well, fitfully. When will it change significantly? Not likely any time soon.
We wish we had answers to all the challenges, of course, but there’s really only a single answer: hang on. Small businesspeople can’t afford to take time for whining. They need to do what they have to do to grow. That means disciplined management, relentless focus on customer or client satisfaction, and a little bit of creativity. If you can’t get capital, you’ll need to find a way to grow without it, maybe more slowly, or find unusual sources. If competition is tougher, you need to find a niche you can please more than the other guys. If you’re not getting paid on time, you need to find new ways to manage your cash flow, maybe with a more flexible labor force. If the market is price sensitive, you either need to add value to your product or find a way to deliver at sustainable margins.
Funny, the times may be tough and the challenges daunting, but the formulas for success are the same as they’ve ever been. Those who get it will survive and, yes, some will even thrive. Happy New Year.