Revealed: The top five challenges facing business owners in 2018
By Rebecca Allam
The Business Clinic runs regular peerworking sessions in Preston and Blackpool giving owners the chance to share their experiences and knowledge.
And it has used the information shared at those sessions to highlight the main issues they face as they look to grow and develop.
Helen Livesey, co-founder of the Preston-based not-for-profit Community Interest Company, said: “At The Business Clinic we see businesses of all shapes and sizes come through our doors each week, and we pride ourselves on being lucky enough to gain the trust required from those business owners for them to want to share with us any challenges or worries they are facing in their business.
“The guidance and advice provided through ‘Peerworking’ allows business owners to go away with a bank of ideas and information they could not have otherwise gained on their own, to work on their business and improve it.
“But we don’t want it to stop there. As a Community Interest Company (CIC) we wanted to be able to give back even further to the local community of business owners.
“So we began recording information from our ‘Peerworking’ support events over the last six months.
“We want to highlight to those unsure where to go for the advice and support required that they are not alone in their challenges and that there is help and support available right here in Lancashire.”
The Business Clinic also found that the top five challenges also coincide with many of the main reasons for businesses failing in their first 18 months, statistics show 80% fail in less than two years after setting up.
Helen said: “If these issues are faced head on business owners can give themselves a fighting chance to becoming the successful business everyone dreams of. Don’t let your business become a statistic.”
Here are the top five challenges facing businesses today
1. Marketing (social media or otherwise)
We have had many discussion points brought to our boardroom table on the subject of marketing in the last sux months from “how to create an effective marketing campaign” to “how to use Linked in efficiently”. One main piece of advice we give to our practitioners when they come with a marketing query is all down to the importance of having a marketing plan in place linking to your overall strategy. As Alan Lakein said; “Failing to plan is planning to fail”
2. Your Message
When business owners bring these challenges it can quite often be disguised as something else for example “I need help with a strap line for my business card”. When it comes to slogans, strap lines and even flyer designs, it all comes down to your message. One of our experts at the sessions is Ged Henderson of Henderson News and Media. He says without a solid message that links up all the different areas of your business it becomes difficult to build up your brand and can make you look unprofessional.
3. Time Management
Time management is one of those things we all can become a victim of, and almost always at our own hand. Procrastination and the inability to “switch off” are common in the vocabulary of the modern business owner and we quickly become victims of our own success. One sure fire way to beat the clock, and our practitioners will back us up on this, is apply the “one touch” rule.
How many of you have ever had half a conversation with another colleague and forgotten the outcome so had to re-visit that conversation again? How many times have you had a piece of paper handed to you that you have looked at and put to one side to deal with later? Rather than leaving these little things to build up on a separate list that you will have to deal with at a more convenient time, why not face each small task head on and just apply the “one touch” rule.
4. Laying the Foundations of a new business
This is always a greatly received point of discussion at our events as our practitioners in the room all eagerly wait to impart advice on a new start business owner so they can avoid the pitfalls they themselves underwent on their first few wobbly baby steps leading to the beginnings of their business venture.
We are more than equipped to deal with such questions at the peerworking sessions with experts in accountancy from partner organisations WNJ Chartered Accountants and law from from Forbes Solicitors. Which leads us nicely to another strong tip... get yourselves a good accountant and solicitor!
5. Sales, Enquiries and Pitching
Well, we all would like more sales in business wouldn’t we? And we like to think we all know how to pitch our business to prospective clients don’t we? I mean some of us have literally been doing it for years! What’s more I know my business better than anyone else so surely I would be the best person to sell it?
The truth is that often when we are caught up in a sales pitch we sometimes fail to read between the lines and see what the customer is actually trying to tell us. For example “I’m too busy” can sometimes mean “I don’t understand the benefits” or “You are not my current priority” or sometimes it can just mean they are busy.
It’s our job to figure out what they do actually mean and know how to deal with that objection. Practising your sales pitch with a trusted colleague can often help pin point where you can improve it. Here at The Business Clinic we have a communications guru in the form of co-founder David Nelson who has a wealth of knowledge in these areas.
As a hub for Lancashire business The Business Clinic encourages businesses looking for bespoke, impartial advice and support to come and find out how ‘Peerworking’ sessions can ensure constant development of their business and aid their journey to healthier profits.
‘Peerworking’ is a client focused approach to networking; it puts them in a position where they can be open and honest about themselves and their business because of the friendly, confidential and informal setting.
They are opened up to receiving support and guidance from business professionals and other like-minded SMEs to make necessary developments in order to grow their business. By being put in this vulnerable position they are opening the window of trust required for people to buy into their product/service.
‘Peerworking’ isn’t for everyone but if you can open your mind to it, the benefits can change your business.