Recently, we asked people to share their small business problems with us via Twitter using #smallbizproblems. Here are some of the most common issues along with their solutions. If you’ve got any questions we haven’t covered here, please leave a comment and we’ll get back to you.
— James (@BOOM3R_BOY) February 2, 2016
Finding money to get your small business up and running is never easy. There are, however, a few tried and tested ways to get the money you need to build a small business.
The first of these is bootstrapping – this means you start the business without external finance and then use the money generated by the business to expand it. Of course, this doesn’t help if you want to start a business that requires a significant amount of money to get it off the ground.
Next up is starting a part-time business. This is closely related to bootstrapping, but removes some of the problems relating to it. The idea is to work as an employee and receive a wage, and use that money to help fund your business. It will also give you something to live on if your business isn’t profitable right away. Then, when the business is established, you can leave your old job and work for yourself full time.
Finally, there’s external funding. Either from a loan, or from investors. This has the advantage of allowing you to fund any capital outlay easily and to concentrate on your business full-time. However, investors are going to expect a return on their money and if you get a loan, you’ll have to repay it. That means if your business isn’t as successful as you hoped, you may face significant financial problems. Starting a business with investors or by using a loan is a big step, and as such you should seek extensive advice before putting pen to paper. A good place to start your search for advice is the National Enterprise Network.
One of the biggest problems with running a small business is that you have to do everything yourself. So unless you have the money to hire a reputable search engine optimisation (SEO) agency, you’re going to have to learn how to conduct keyword research yourself.
Fortunately, this is one of the easier bits of SEO. At its most basic level, it involves sitting down and thinking about the terms people will put into Google to find a business like yours, then ensure that you’re using those terms on your website. In reality, it is a bit more complex than that. For this reason, we’ve put together a series of guides on SEO. The best place to start if you’ve never done any SEO before is this article on SEO for a new site. If you want to focus on local SEO then you can look at this guide, and we also have this article on getting started with keyword research.
— Mila Gates (@MilaCGates) January 26, 2016
If your internet is down and that means your business is down, then you could be in real trouble. If your internet goes down right ahead of an important video conference or crucial deadline, then that could harm your business. Although a fast broadband connection should always be your first choice when working from home, you should always have a range of back up options in case your internet goes down.
Perhaps the best back up option is 4G phone that you can use as a wireless hotspot. This will allow you to connect your laptop to the internet via your phone and, as long as you have a good signal, work in pretty much the same way as if you were connected via broadband. This is a good idea as it not only provides you with an alternative internet connection at home, but also something you can use when you’re on the move. However, even phones can go wrong so it makes sense to know where you can online if your first back up option isn’t available. It might be a library, or a coffee shop, but as long as you’re aware where you can go to get online, you won’t have to worry if your home internet goes down.
Switching off from running your small business can be extremely hard and sometimes it might even being impossible. If you’re determined to take a complete break from things one option is to employ someone to cover for you during the time you’re away. It won’t work for every kind of business, but the right person should be able to fulfil orders, deal with customer queries. Paying someone to work for you will put a dent in your profits, but if you want to switch off entirely it may be your only choice.
Another option is to simply let customers know you’re going on holiday and you won’t be around for a week or two. This isn’t ideal – you might lose orders from people who need something urgently, or you might not be around to deal with a crisis. However, if you want a total break from things this might be your only option.
The other alternative is to limit the number of hours you work while on holiday. This can take a lot of will power, but if you only work for two hours each morning, you can spend the rest of your holiday winding down.
— BeyondSims (@beyondsims) January 15, 2016
Getting sent to someone’s junk mail folder is one of the worst things that can happen to an email newsletter. The first thing to do is to make sure you employ best practice when it comes to email marketing. That means getting people to actively opt in to your newsletters and then sending them a confirmation email. You can use this email to ask people to add your newsletter email address to their safe list, meaning you won’t head into the junk mail folder. If people are actively signing up for your newsletter then they’re keen to hear from you, this makes it more likely that they’ll add you to their safe list. You can get more email marketing tips in this webinar.
This is a problem as old as email itself. And one that actually has a solution. The trick is to pick an email package which reminds you when you’ve included a word like “attached” in the body of your email, but have forgotten to add the attachment. Office 365 email does exactly this.
Remember, we’re here to help you with your journey to success. If you have a business problem that’s got you stumped, leave us a comment and we’ll do our best to solve it.