Written by: Paula Woodhouse, VP Head of Business Banking, Union Savings Bank
The challenges that face small business owners evolve with each passing year. Small business objectives may remain the same year to year, but the tools and strategies to reach them and the obstacles that stand in the way are constantly changing. With 2018 behind us, we’re taking a look at some of these top small business challenges and how to navigate through them in the New Year.
Recruiting and Retaining Talent
For three consecutive years between 2015 and 2017, a quarter of small business owners in the United States reported their plans to hire new staff members. Yet in 2018, a survey revealed that the greatest challenge small business owners currently face is still hiring and retaining qualified staff. What is standing in the way of recruiting and keeping top talent for small business owners?
Small business owners are often surprised to learn that why they are recruiting can be just as important as who they ultimately hire. Providing a job description that clearly outlines the tasks and purpose of each role can help both you and your candidates avoid confusion. Here are more tips about writing an effective job post.
When it comes to motivating and retaining top talent, offering competitive small business benefits can help set you apart from other small businesses. Deciding whether or not to offer employee benefits packages including health insurance can seem daunting, but there are several options to consider. Retirement benefits can help your small business build employee loyalty, and these 5 tips can help you get your own employer 401k plan started.
Targeting New Customers
Returning customers play a big role in maintaining your small business success, but acquiring new customers is key for growing your business. With so much “noise” in the world today, it’s no wonder that targeting new customers is the second of top small business challenges. The good news is that there are tools and strategies to help you reach new audiences and connect with your next top customers.
Knowing who you are selling to starts with understanding a few general personality types. Do your customers generally take the driver’s seat when it comes to selecting the products and services they need? Or do they prefer to rely on your expertise? Are prospects placing more emphasis on who they buy from rather than on their bottom line? These distinctions can help you get to know your general audience a little better.
Using your current customers as examples, try creating a few customer personas to help you develop even more targeted marketing and sales strategies. Knowing how your best customers think, react and behave can help you reach equally enthusiastic and brand-loyal consumers.
Managing Small Business Cash Flow
It’s no secret that managing your revenue and expenses is critical, but there are several misconceptions about small business cash flow management that can keep you from seeing the full picture. A study found that 82% of small businesses fail due to poor cash management, so take the time in 2019 to understand your small business cash flow and regularly update your cash flow projections.
Protecting Customer Data
There are many factors involved in gaining and maintaining your customers’ trust. One factor that is especially important in today’s digital world is protecting your customers’ data. Between business email compromise and other small business cyber attacks on the rise, your customers’ personal data can be highly desirable to hackers. The steps you take to protect your business should include performing regular property inspections and using password protection when offering free Wi-Fi to customers. Make sure you have also updated your cyber security processes and procedures and have brought your employees up to speed about cyber security best practices.
The Future of Your Small Business
Will 2019 bring big changes for your small business? Are you looking for ways to keep working capital flowing so you can increase your product offerings? Or perhaps you are thinking about expanding your business?
If you are considering retirement in the near future, 2019 could be a big year for both you and your small business. Bringing your own personal needs to the forefront can be intimidating when you’re accustomed to always putting your business first. There are a few important tips about retirement for small business owners that can help you overcome this mental hurdle. Counting on the future sale of your small business is a very risky retirement strategy, so be sure you have a solid succession plan lined up. This will also give you the chance to dictate how you want your business to be managed and operated once you’re off living the good life.
Evolving tools and technologies will continue to change the way you approach the top small business challenges of 2019. What won’t change this year is our commitment to helping small business owners overcome challenges and continue to grow. To learn how the USB Business Banking, Lending and Solutions Teams can help your business grow in 2019, visit our website.