Problems? Ask an Entrepreneur

They’ll tell you problems are just a part of life

Running a small business can be a very rewarding experience. The joys that come with that entrepreneurial spirit vary from the freedom of being your own boss to the sense of accomplishment derived from building something from the ground up. Along with the many joys come a whole slew of problems. But that is natural according to a recent study completed by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) titled Entrepreneurs’ challenges and needs. According to the study, 99% of small businesses in Canada face at least one problem in their organization. If you are feeling a little pressure, you needn’t worry, you are in good company.

Problems - paperwork

Financing and managing growth are the most common problems amongst small businesses

Liza Minnelli taught us in Cabaret that money makes the world go round, but it is also the largest source of problems for small business owners. Money and the inability to source financing was cited by 49% of small business owners as the most frequent problem, while maintaining profitability followed closely, being mentioned by 42% of responders. After money problems, managing the business was the next largest group of issues. Struggles with growing the business (41%), maintaining balance between business and personal (35%), improving productivity (34%) and managing time effectively (30%) were frequently mentioned as the difference between a smooth road and a bumpy one when running a small business. The study also showed that the smaller the business, the more likely these types of problems will have an impact.

Problems - unprepared

Running a small business can leave entrepreneurs feeling unprepared

Perhaps the problems stem from their state of readiness, generally leaving a small business unprepared when growth knocks on their door. One of the most difficult acts an entrepreneur must perform is juggling between working the business while simultaneously building the business. Inevitably, often times one wins out over the other. The result is either a business that has some short-term customers but lacks direction or a finely tuned business that lacks sufficient revenue. When asked why their state of readiness leans towards unprepared, the top reasons cited were a lack of funds, lack of qualified staff, lack of time management and lack of a trusted advisor.

Like most challenges encountered by small businesses the problems associated with preparedness are felt by many. And many of these same businesses have offered advice on how to deal with problems. During the Entrepreneurs’ challenges and needs study, the BDC asked small business for that advice. And it can be boiled down to two main themes. One theme advises entrepreneurs to surround their business with people that can help, such as consultants, qualified staff, mentors and a good network of business professionals. The second theme advises business owners to have a thorough understanding of their business landscape, including knowing their region, their customers and their product. It further suggests that a business should invest the appropriate amount of time for solution analysis, priority setting and financial planning.

No one said running a business was easy. Rewarding perhaps, but not easy! All businesses encounter problems, sometimes those problems seem overwhelming. Investing your time to build knowledge in your business landscape and asking for help either through your established network or an independent consultant can help bring a speedy resolution to business problems and get you on the road to long lasting growth, prosperity and satisfaction.

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