Growing a small business is exciting. But it’s also scary. And if you’re having a hard time figuring out how to tap into growth, it can be terrifying.

Working with growth-minded small business owners day in, day out, we have a front-row seat to some of the most common challenges SMB leaders face. Not only that, but we get to watch as our clients find innovative and creative ways to overcome those same challenges.

If you feel like you’ve hit a wall and you’re having a hard time moving your business forward, the tips below may be just the thing to help you get over the hump. 

Challenge: Overhead sucking the life out of you

One tried and true way to grow your business is to add value. Maybe you offer new and exciting products and services. Perhaps you simply update your existing options. Or you could even add small but meaningful freebies.

It all works… and it all means spending money

What to do

As you develop new products or change existing ones, think about how you can keep costs low. If you have to keep the price a little higher to cover costs, do it. Don’t sell at a loss. That’s always dangerous.

And right now, today, you should make it a point to talk to every potential customer you encounter about the value of the products and services you offer over the cost, even if you’re cheaper than the competition.

Challenge: Overrun by hordes of updates

You need to keep up with both your industry and any technology tools you use. Unfortunately, this can be difficult for small business owners. You’ve got your hands full running a business. You likely don’t have time to read every industry-related and tech publication out there.

What to do

Set up Google Alerts for news articles related to your field. Also consider joining related groups on social media, like LinkedIn and even Facebook. If you come across something big that’s a potential game-changer for your business, dig in on that topic and do more research.

Challenge: Buried alive by legal compliance

As the scale of your operation grows, so do your responsibilities. Some of these may be backed up by legal regulations. Things change as you go from just a few employees at one location to dozens spread over several locations. If you don’t cover your compliance bases, you could end up with some hefty fines.

What to do

Get ahead. Take the time to research the local laws for your city and state to make sure you know what to expect as your business grows. It’s much easier to plan for compliance if you know it’s coming.

Challenge: Dead cash flow issues

You need money flowing in. Even if you’re turning a profit, dead cash flow on a monthly basis will make it hard to run your business. How will you pay the bills if there’s nothing in your account, even for one month?

What to do

One easy way to support positive cash flow is by offering incentives to customers who pay on time. A modest discount (say, 5%) might be enough to boost cash flow. Or, you could incorporate early payment into your customer loyalty program.

Challenge: Conjuring your customer base

Far too many small businesses rely on one really solid, big customer for a large percentage of their profitability. Guess what happens if that one customer leaves? It’s a disaster. Even if you have a premier customer who gives your business a big boost, don’t fall into the trap of relying heavily on that single relation.

What to do

Take advantage of the stability that one client brings to start growing your customer base now. Investing in marketing. Plug in with your local community. Network. Identify the services other potential clients need and make sure the rest of your existing clients remain happy.

Challenge: Ghastly company culture

Company culture is the heart and soul of your organization. It’s not just a nice buzzword. Your company culture sets the tone for customer expectations, employee satisfaction and your company’s reputation within the market.

What to Do

Engage with your employees. Talk to them. Ask them what would make their jobs better—more fulfilling. And don’t stop there. Do what you can to improve their day-to-day experience. The happier your employees are, the better they’ll serve your customers.

Challenge: Slashing the competition

Growth doesn’t just mean you make more money. It also means you’ll be taking on more competition. It’s one thing to go head-to-head with other brand new businesses. It’s something else entirely to go up against established players.

What to Do

Don’t focus on the competition. Instead, focus on your unique value proposition. Demonstrate to your customers and to future prospects how you’re different. Most likely, your products and services aren’t what sets you apart. Your people and values do. So make sure your values and your company culture come through loud and clear in customer interactions, on your website, and in all marketing materials.

Challenge: Feeling like a zombie

When things are going well, you feel like a machine. But this is life. Things aren’t always going to go well. Plus, you’re only human. Humans get tired, and targeting growth can really take it out of you. At some point, you’re going to hit a wall.

What to do

Make sure that you and your team have the rest and recuperation you need so you can keep your business on track. Overworking employees doesn’t pay off—and neither does overworking yourself. Maintain enough balance to keep everyone happy and firing on all cylinders.

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