Life is hard during this unprecedented time for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Profit margins can be tight, competition can be fierce, and the decisions you make can make or break the company. But there are some challenges that it is all too common for SMEs to overlook, or not put enough weight of importance to. Don’t fall into that trap.
Here are six common challenges that small businesses often overlook and what you can do about them.
1. Cyber security
It may be the case that your company still relies on antivirus and firewall software in order to protect your assets against cyber crime. But the truth is that these forms of protection are no longer enough – hackers and criminals have simply become too sophisticated. And this is a major problem for SMEs, as 43% of cyber-attacks target small businesses.
Almost every small business makes use of the internet in one way or another, whether they have a website, or they operate any kind of computer system. So, if you are not currently investing in cyber security your company could be at risk.
2. Failure to diversify the client base
Many SMEs become far too dependent on a specific base of clients. While it can be very effective to work with a small demographic of clients and really focus your marketing efforts and planning behind them, this can come with drawbacks too. If any aspect of this marketing stream weakens or for some reason you lose this type of client your business can be left it a very difficult position.
It is a much better idea to begin diversifying your client base – you can do this by understanding your who your current clients are, and then potentially amending or offering a different service or product that will interest another demographic.
3. Growing too quickly
It is important that your business should be focused on growth and expansion. However, this can be a problem too. Growth should always be sustainable – if you focus too much on simply ensuring that your company is larger you can lose sight on profits.
Taking on more staff, producing more, and expanding into larger premises can all seem like they are positive. But if this growth is not sustainable the costs involved can end up being far too demanding, and eventually, you will simply not be able to remain in business. Try to focus on sensible growth demanded by the market, rather than expanding for the sake of it.
Many business owners don’t understand the dangers associated with asbestos, assuming that it is a problem for the past. But it may well be the case that your premises contains asbestos somewhere within it. If this is true then it is essential that you take steps to track the condition of the asbestos and ensure that staff are not at risk of exposure.
Asbestos exposure can cause a huge range of health issues, especially respiratory difficulty. If a member of staff is exposed to asbestos at your business premises, you can be at risk of legal action. It is important to understand the business requirements for controlling asbestos and what you need to minimise risk, not only for the safety of your staff but for the general public too.
5. Hiring new employees
It is vital that your business takes a smart approach to hiring staff. Your employees are an essential part of your company and hiring the right people can make all the difference. The important thing to note here is that you should never hire in a panic.
Have a plan for the staff that you need to maintain your business and grow. This allows you to make decisions about hiring in advance, providing the necessary time to draw up a plan as well as the opportunity to find the right person for the role.
6. Failure to delegate
One real challenge for small businesses is that the leaders struggle with delegating. It may be the case that you are an entrepreneur who has always worked hard and focused on getting a lot done. But as a business grows you need to learn how to delegate and trust the members of your team to do a great job.