Each year brings new challenges and advantages to small-business owners. 2020 marks a new decade filled with possibilities. However, there are also some big obstacles smaller brands must face as they move through the year.
One major challenge is outpacing the competition. There are around 32.5 million small businesses in the United States. While the number varies from month to month as new companies open and failing ones close, there is competition in nearly every sector. If you want to succeed in a highly competitive marketplace, overcoming stumbling blocks is a must. Here are eight roadblocks to navigate in 2020.
1. Increasing Revenue
No matter what type of company you own, increasing revenue allows you to pay your employees more, spend additional money on advertising and put more funds in your pocket. However, there are also a limited number of customers split among competitors. You have a few options for increasing revenue in 2020.
- Sell more to current clients. Create additional options and market to those who already love your brand.
- Reach new customers in an untapped market. Look for those who your competitors have also overlooked but might need what you sell.
2. Retaining Employees
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that around 27% of workers left their jobs, and a mere 24.5% said they plan to stay with their employer for more than six years. The cost of recruiting and training skilled employees can quickly eat into any profits. There are also residual effects of losing workers, such as a constantly changing company culture. How can you keep your top performers long term?
- Pay them well. While you might not be able to afford the wages of a large corporation, you can give workers regular raises and incentives.
- Offer perks. Offer time off when an employee gets a new pet or longer maternity/paternity leave.
- Embrace a cause. Give your workers a paid day where they can volunteer for a local charity.
- Provide training. In the 2019 Retention Report, researchers found 22% of workers left their jobs for better career development. Simply offering better training could keep your best employees.
Many factors play into people choosing to stay with a company. Ask for feedback, and make changes that keep your team happy and thriving.
3. Repairing and Revamping Office Space
Don’t let your building fall into disrepair. Every year should provide opportunities to improve and update your space. Start with:
- Meet regulations. Each city has specific building codes and regulations to ensure safety.
- Fix problems. Add water barriers to protect inventory, repair failing foundations or replace the roof with something long-lasting and durable.
- Add efficiency. Change to LED lighting for more energy efficiency, for example.
4. Providing Excellent Customer Experience
In this new decade, expect customer experience to top the list of things consumers want. We live in a world where there is more data than ever before. Use that information to provide a customized solution for your clients.
- Reach out with offers for products you think they’d like based on past buying behavior.
- Train the customer service department in your policies.
- Poll current clients regularly for insight into how to better serve their needs.
5. Scaling Up
It makes sense as your small business grows to scale up and increase revenue. However, there are challenges you’ll face when doing so, particularly in this new decade.
- Know who to trust. It is very easy for people to start a business today. Not everyone is an expert.
- Get everything in writing. Any agreements with vendors or manufacturers should go through your lawyer.
- Watch cash flow. It’s easy to buy a lot of inventory and then not move it. This can create serious cash flow issues in your organization.
6. Keeping Company Identity
As your business grows, you’ll bring new workers in and have to change some of your processes to keep up with demand. It’s easy to lose the core of who you are in the midst of growth.
- Write out your mission statement and make sure it remains at the core of all you do.
- Establish some company culture policies, such as a daily stand-up meeting or weekly awards ceremony.
- Know why you do what you do and don’t deviate from your purpose.
7. Securing Data
The Experian 2020 Data Breach Industry Forecast predicts cybercriminals will start using text-based phishing more to steal money and information from individuals. However, they will also resort to traditional techniques of taking data from small companies.
- Keep only the data you must have to do business.
- Invest in network security and train workers to never share passwords.
- Install the latest protective software.
8. Working With Automation
Robots have become more advanced in recent years. Machines are now able to reason and learn similar to the way humans do. This impacts every type of business. There are several ways to keep up with technological advances on a small-business budget.
- Upgrade the machines you have and invest in new AI software.
- Create an app that engages users when they near your brick-and-mortar store.
- Spin the personal touch in an increasingly impersonal world.
Embrace New Trends
As we head into a new Roaring ’20s, there are certain to be more changes than anyone can predict. Embrace the trends as they come along, but know what your business stands for at its core. The better you understand your goals for yourself and your customers, the better you’ll be able to decide which obstacles are worth overcoming and which ones can be ignored for the time being.