Starting a business is a huge achievement, but keeping it running and making it successful are the real challenges. Reports from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 20 percent of small businesses shut down by the end of their first year, and around 50 percent fail by the end of their fifth.
Unfortunately, alarming survival rates are just one of the concerns businesses have to face. So if you run a small- or mid-sized operation, here are the biggest obstacles to overcome and the technology you can use to help.
A top concern among business owners is growth management. According to a survey by Inc. magazine, 42 percent of SMBs are anxious about how to manage their growth. This is largely because they are using internal systems not designed to scale.
For instance, managing your capital — how it’s spent, where you spend it, and when — becomes increasingly difficult with manual spreadsheets as your business expands. This inefficient system prevents employees from getting things done, creates opportunities for data entry errors, and forces managers to put out organizational fires on a regular basis.
You can alleviate anxiety over having static systems by deploying modern, cloud-based business management tools like Intacct, for example. This solution makes it easy to consolidate your finances, record transactions, and keep track of your business’s growth. What’s more, they’re scalable, capable of handling large volumes of transactions and automating business processes, which means you don’t have to hire as many employees.
Another major cause of insomnia for entrepreneurs is sales performance. The survey found that 48 percent are worried that they weren’t making the most out of their sales channels. Small businesses usually don’t have the tools and processes necessary to drive sales. Some still use outdated communication and customer tracking systems.
On the bright side, there are plenty of feature-rich, easy-to-use customer relationship management (CRM) software applications available in the market today. When information is accurately recorded, a CRM system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 can track customer behavior and let your salespeople know the best time to contact them and what products or services they’re interested in.
And CRM can be integrated with every possible sales channel — whether social media, emails, or phone systems — giving you the ability to better understand your customers’ interests and find the best angle to close deals.
Losing market share
When it comes to competition, the odds are stacked against SMBs. Not only do they have to compete with local businesses, they also have to go up against large corporations that have what seems to be unlimited resources and technology. If companies can’t level the playing field, they simply get left behind in terms of productivity and scalability.
Fortunately, there are a variety of cost-effective, enterprise-level solutions that can help you compete on equal footing. Depending on your service provider, you can get cloud-based productivity software, 24/7 support, and on-demand computing resources all for an affordable, pay-as-you-go monthly subscription fee.
Surprisingly, security wasn’t as big a concern as other issues in this list. In fact, among those surveyed by Inc., an overwhelming majority of SMB owners were confident about their cloud backup solution, and 67 percent felt safe storing sensitive data in the cloud. But that isn’t an excuse to be complacent about your security.
Given the rise of and phishing scams, it’s important for businesses to make sure they have strong cybersecurity solutions in place. Firewalls, antivirus software, business applications, and intrusion prevention systems must be up to date at all times to detect and defend against the latest attacks. Advanced encryption standards must be applied to all workstations, servers, and cloud infrastructures to ensure data integrity and confidentiality. Access management for cloud accounts should be established to keep data safe from unauthorized access. And incident-response strategies should be planned thoroughly.
What part of your business is causing you to stay up late at night? Call us today and tell us about your concerns. We offer cutting-edge solutions that will make running your business worry-free.