Business growth obstacles

10 ways to overcome the scariest small business pain points—and grow beyond them

As an established small business owner, you have likely felt some growing pains. Economic instability, soaring consumer acquisition costs, and intense competition both locally and online can make a dark day even worse.

We use the following insights and strategies every day to help our small business clients to overcome the most frustrating growth and operational hurdles.

Are they as fun as creating and selling? Not really.

Are they critical for growth? Absolutely.

 

2024 Small Business Trends

Guidant Financial: 2024 Small Business Trends

 

1. Access to Capital

Securing financing for growing a business can be difficult for entrepreneurs without a strong credit history or collateral. For those (like me!) who would rather bootstrap than carry debt, options can be even more limited.

You have to know where you stand, no matter which way you go. By performing a comprehensive audit and developing a strategic action plan, small businesses can identify opportunities for optimizing finances and attracting investment that are both within their means and make sense long-term.

 

2. Inflation and Price Increases

Inflation and rising costs lead to reduced profit margins and pricing concerns. Managing cash flow effectively is crucial, yet many small businesses struggle with late payments, uncertain buyers, inconsistent revenue streams, and unexpected expenses.

Through goal-setting and performance metrics, small businesses with established KPIs related to cash flow and financial performance have better overall outcomes when it comes to the less predictable. 

By conducting a comprehensive cost analysis, identifying areas for cost-saving measures, and developing strategic pricing strategies to maintain competitiveness without sacrificing quality, continued profitability and sustainability in the face of economic pressures can be better assured.

 

Randstand employee retention study

Randstand Workmonitor 2023

 

3. Finding and Retaining Talent

Small businesses often face challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled employees. Employees often leave because small businesses lack work-life balance and do not offer access to learning and development opportunities.

According to a 2023 survey by Omnipresent, 53% of employees are likely to leave their current company by the start of 2024, and 77% of surveyed employers struggled to fill their open positions in 2023.

Some owners can be blind to the example that they’re setting, ignoring cost-of-living wage increases or benefits offsets, or offering PTO, but not creating work environments that support flexibility.

If your people jump ship regularly, consider leadership and management mentoring services, where small businesses develop the skills needed to attract and retain top talent, fostering a positive workplace culture. 

 

4. Healthcare Costs

Providing affordable healthcare coverage for employees can be a significant financial burden for small businesses, especially as healthcare costs continue to rise.

Small businesses can create new pathways to strengthen efficiency and profitability, allowing them to invest in employee benefits like healthcare coverage, which will enhance employee satisfaction and loyalty. They can eliminate “gotcha” expenses and create more stability—and happiness—for all.

 

5. Marketing and Customer Acquisition

Limited marketing budgets and resources can make it challenging for small businesses to effectively reach and attract customers in a crowded marketplace.

Through customer relationship management (CRM) systems setup and integration, small businesses can streamline their marketing efforts and improve customer acquisition. Having a technology partner to help get you set up and train you on how to make CRMs work for you is key.

 

6. Technology Adoption and Integration

On that note, keeping up with technology trends and integrating new digital tools and systems can be daunting for small businesses.

Implementing cost-effective technology solutions that enhance user experience and support business and communications goals make all the difference when it comes to efficiency and keeping up with the times.

 

Guidant Small Business Trends 2024

Guidant Financial: 2024 Small Business Trends

 

7. Customer Retention

Small businesses often struggle to retain customers and build long-term loyalty due to intense competition and changing consumer preferences.

Implementing a customer loyalty program backed by tech tools that track purchase history and preferences, coupled with personalized marketing campaigns and loyalty rewards, often results in increased repeat business and higher customer satisfaction.

Digital transformation

 

8. Digital Transformation

For brick-and-mortar retailers and restaurants facing declining revenues and increased competition from delivery services, adapting to changing consumer preferences is critical.

By enlisting the help of consultants (we know a few!) to digitize their operations, implementing online ordering systems, contactless payment options, and targeted digital marketing campaigns integrating social media, email, and SMS, they can  increase sales and improve customer engagement.

 

9. Competition from Larger Corporations

How do you effectively message your small business out when the big players are shouting into the same space? Small businesses may struggle to compete with larger corporations that have greater resources, brand recognition, and economies of scale.

Through brand strategy development and communications planning, small businesses differentiate themselves in the marketplace and compete more effectively with larger corporations.

 

10. Regulatory Compliance

Depending on your industry, navigating complex regulatory requirements at the local, state, and federal levels can be burdensome and time-consuming.

By assessing system inconsistencies and internal messaging and brand guides, small businesses can navigate regulatory requirements and ensure compliance.

Am I missing anything when it comes to small business pain points? Shout it out in the comments below!

Management consultant and brand strategist for small teams. Fan of dark tea, thick books, peace, and unity.

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