We’re nearly a month into 2017, and like the beginning of every New Year there are business challenges both new and old that small and medium-sized businesses across the country are preparing to address (not to mention the unique obstacles that we Connecticut businesses have to overcome on a daily basis).
With the hope of encouraging everyone to start the year on an optimistic note, here are five 2017 business challenges we’ve heard our Connecticut business customers discussing in recent weeks along with a few tips on how you can prepare to overcome them in the year ahead.
1. Difficulty finding qualified people to hire
Finding and retaining the right talent is a constant challenge for business owners. After all, your people are one of the most important things that contribute to your company’s success. Nonetheless, this task has proven to be especially challenging lately as many of our business customers have mentioned how difficult it is to find reliable employees. There are a number of causes behind this, including the fact that many successful individuals and companies are leaving Connecticut and taking the best talent with them. However, there’s a lot you can do to stand out from the competition and attract the brightest our state has to offer. Consider updating your methods for hiring and onboarding new employees with updated benefits or perks. Once you’ve found the right talent, make sure you work to provide an engaging environment for your employees where they’re challenged, receive consistent feedback and have the means to maintain a work-life balance. With a little effort, your new recruits may turn into long-time employees.
2. Protecting business data and other intellectual property
Getting a new gadget like the latest smartphone always brings an adrenaline rush, but too often it’s followed by disappointment a few months later when the next latest and greatest technology hits the market, turning your gadget into an obsolete brick. The rapid pace of technology development brings an even bigger worry to business owners – safeguarding against cyber threats. If you haven’t refreshed your business data management plan in a few years, then it’s essential that you take a look at how you’re cataloguing and backing up your sensitive digital materials. Double-check to ensure your business is utilizing the most up-to-date antivirus and mobile device management software to keep your data as safe and secure as possible.
3. Overcoming slow growth in the local economy
Unfortunately, the Connecticut economy isn’t exactly booming at the moment, and that means it can be particularly difficult for consumer-facing businesses to find new customers and growth opportunities. Rather than simply trying to outprice your competitors, you can amplify your customer service and distinguish yourself from the competition by personalizing the shopping experience your customers receive. One area you can explore is real-time customization on your website. Consider setting up automated product recommendations that suggest additional items for your website visitors to purchase based on what items they’ve looked at or added to their cart. Recommendations can be sent to your customers via email or on a “Visitors who viewed this product also viewed…” section on your website. Customizing your online shopping experience can go a long way towards convincing curious consumers into long-time customers.
4. Preparing for a potential rise in interest rates
Interest rates rose for the first time in years this past December, and some industry analysts predict we’ll see additional increases this year. Changing rates can impact your debt service requirements, so it’s important to understand the various small business credit options that are available to you. You can establish a revolving line of credit that makes capital available to you for short-term needs, such as covering payroll or bridging seasonal slowdowns, while taking out an installment loan for longer-term needs, such as paying for equipment purchases or building renovations. These are just a few of the options out there, and it’s important you find the solutions best tailored to your needs now rather than waiting to see whether interest rates will rise or lower in the near future.
5. Working in an uncertain political atmosphere
A new incoming presidential administration is always an uncertain time, but as a seasoned business owner you’re likely used to dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis. One way to combat uncertainty is to proactively prepare for the unexpected. If you’re worried that a sudden regulatory change will make business difficult for a period as you spend time adjusting practices to ensure compliance, then you should take steps to investigate solutions for meeting short-term credit needs. Check out options such as inventory financing, a form of lending that allows you to use your inventory as collateral for obtaining a revolving line of credit, to ensure your business is set to accommodate any short-term jams before they happen.
Preparing for a year of uncertainties is always a stressful time, which is why our doors will always be open if you want to discuss a financial question. Start up a conversation with one of our Solutions Teams to find a financial solution tailored to your business needs, and subscribe to our Business Blog to get more of the latest tips and tricks for the year ahead.