Author: Martine Prudente (SmartPA Partner)

We all know the frightening stat; around 90% of start-ups fail in their first year. We, at SmartPA, are experts in supporting businesses to scale and grow. Below are the 3 most common challenges faced by small businesses and our solutions on how to turn a sticky situation into a success!

Challenge 1: Having The Wrong Team

When you are a start-up, the team inevitably starts with you. It is important to be self-aware, identifying your strengths and weaknesses, your hard skills and your business offering; IT, finance, teaching, carpentry or auto mechanics. These will ensure the quality of service/product delivery. But as important, if not more, are your soft skills; communication, problem-solving, interpersonal skills.  Knowing who you are will help you to build a team or network that supports your short and long-term objectives and goals for your business. A good team dynamic will make or break a business and you have the luxury of starting from scratch. The key to a successful start-up is simple (this will become a mantra):

  • Do what you’re great at
  • Find competent people to handle the rest

Early stages of a business often mean that you a) don’t want to employ anyone or b) haven’t yet built the business to a stage it is financially viable to take on employees.  At this early stage, you can still build a support team to help you grow and manage your business

Solution: Outsourcing

Outsourcing allows a business owner to engage external support to take care of the task they don’t have time for or the hard or soft skills to accomplish. It allows businesses to lower operational costs, focus on the core business while still handling the essential operations.  Remember you have limited time, won’t have all the skills you require, and outsourcing allows you, as the business owner, to set your priorities more clearly.

When the time arrives for you to begin building your team of employees you can still rely on your trusted outsourcing network to help you manage your HR and recruitment requirements as having staff has a wealth of administrative tasks that need to be undertaken including 

  • Forming and maintaining employee records
  • Preparing and amending where necessary HR documents, i.e. employment contracts and recruitment guides
  • Reviewing and renewing company policies and legal compliance
  • Payroll

We, at SmartPA, help clients grow on a daily basis. Click here to see some Trustpilot reviews from our happy clients!

Challenge 2: Poor Marketing

Marketing can be very expensive and somewhat intimidating if it’s not your specialist subject. It can also be overwhelming to try and understand who your market is, how they behave, which marketing tools you should use and how to use these effectively, particularly when you are trying to do what you do best on a day-to-day basis. 

Social media offers small and start-up businesses a low cost, high impact way to market their businesses by growing their network and prospect list while choosing the right ways and methods to talk to those prospects.  If you don’t have the ‘hard skill’ of marketing and sales this can very quickly be pushed down the priority list……but if you don’t do it you will also lose visibility, brand awareness and the potential for growth.

Solution: Get Help and Get Started

Three simple things to do;

  • Ensure you have a clear brand message. Who are you, why do you do what you do? Once you have that nailed, everything will flow a lot more naturally.
  • Pick the correct social media platforms for your target audience and get active. Share relevant content, engage with your community and follow your customer profiles!
  • Maintain consistent brand messaging across all your materials, website and social media channels. Consistency is key.

If you don’t have the skill remember the mantra;

  • Do what you’re great at.
  • Find competent people to handle the rest.

Our SmartPAs are expert social media managers and are here to support your marketing needs. Read our blog on what makes a successful marketing strategy here.

Challenge 3: Lack of Customer Care

48% of customers who had a negative experience told 10 or more others (Gartner). For a small business, can you really afford for that to happen?

Customers leave because their experience with a product or service failed to live up to their expectations. Classic examples of bad customer service include; a promise was not met, the information provided was inaccurate, customer service took too long to answer calls, calls weren’t returned, a complaint was ignored or service was too slow. Losing a customer impacts a business in several ways; loss of a sale, reputational damage if a dissatisfied customer tells their friends or broadcasts it on social media, and loss of valuable referrals.

Studies show that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25 to 95%. (Harvard Business School) It’s clear that quality customer care is too important and too valuable to ignore.

Solution: Remember Your Mantra!

There is an answer to the problem which allows your customers to have a great experience while you can continue concentrating on what you need to safe in the knowledge it’s all taken care of;

  • Do what you’re great at.
  • Find competent people to handle the rest.

Presenting a good front face of your business is crucial. A virtual receptionist can provide much-needed care and professionalism in those early days, leaving you one less thing for you to worry about.

SmartPA pride ourselves on integrating with your business seamlessly, ensuring consistency of brand messaging and a superior customer experience.

 Connect with Martine on LinkedIn or get in touch through email: martine.prudente@smartpasupport.com