Social Media Savvy: 5 challenges every small business faces
Special to the Bonanza
LAKE TAHOE — The entrepreneur spirit in me has always pushed me to run my own business. I love the challenges and the rewards that come from being your own boss.
It’s definitely not for everyone but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Creating my own destiny and calling the shots is the reward I get from running my own business.
It’s not an easy walk in the park though. I hope this article provides valuable advice to fellow entrepreneurs like me.
Small Business Challenge One — Lack of focus
You have decided to run your own business. Congratulations! It’s time to get serious about developing your plan and getting laser focused with your target market and offerings.
I’m not talking about 100-page business plan with financial statements. That would be smart to have especially if you need investors. But for the most part, you can put down your ideas on 3-4 pages.
This will help you define your business — what services/products are you going to focus on, who is your target market, what goals do you need to set for your first 1-3 years and how are you going to make sure you are achieving your goals. Basically, it comes to focus.
Out&About Marketing is a marketing company, but we focus on certain services. The spectrum of the marketing discipline can be too broad: marketing strategies, traditional or online marketing or both, campaign development, media, creative, web, social media marketing, SEO, SEM, POS, product marketing, or something else.
You can see the services we currently offer on our website and I can promise you that they continue to get refined as we speak.
In my opinion, the more focused you can get from the beginning, the easier it’s going to be to become a leader in your niche market. You can always expand your offerings later on.
Small Business Challenge Two — Lack of money
Depending on the business you have decided to start you may need an initial capital to get things going and keep them going. This is where solid financials with your business plan will come in handy.
However, you may not need a huge investment upfront and may be able to start your business on a shoestring.
I started Out&About Marketing with an old laptop and $1,000. Working from home is a very viable option for many people who are first starting out, thus minimizing your expenses.
You can always ask family and friends for support and use your personal savings too when you are first starting out. But maybe it comes a point when you need a little bit more money in the bank — to pay your team, get an office, have cash flow, etc.
It wasn’t until 3 years into running Out&About Marketing when I had a team of people working at the company that I considered getting a business loan.
Small Business Challenge Three — Lack of support
Your business is off the ground and running well. All of the sudden, you realize that it’s running too well and it’s growing to a point you can no longer do everything on your own.
You need help. Hiring your first employee can be daunting and scary. The best thing you can do is decide what tasks you can pass on and train someone else to do. Admin work, basic marketing tasks, bookkeeping, can all be passed to someone else.
First prepare a job description and make sure it’s as detailed as possible. Next advertise the job. I normally start with my “social media” network and list the job on Craigslist since it’s free. Depending on the position, I may pay for job listings on LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed or Mashable.
When you gather resumes for the position, come up with criteria for selection and narrow down your choices to 3-4 candidates. Then, set up interviews preferably in person or if virtual, via video conference.
I normally use Skype or Google Hangouts. Matching the personality with the company culture to me is just as important as finding the right skill set.
Small business challenge four — Lack of advertising and marketing dollars
When just starting up, you don’t have a large marketing budget. But thanks to various technology solutions and tools, you can do a lot with a little.
The first point of contact for many people is going to be your website. Software solutions like WordPress make it simple and affordable to have a decent website that you can update yourself. Hire a web developer to help you with the customization and provide you enough training so you can easily update your website.
Having an email database and being able to communicate with your customers is critical. I recommend using platforms like MailChimp or Constant Contact for your email needs.
Email communication continues to be a driving force for online sales so make sure you start building your email database right away.
Of course, we highly recommend using social media marketing as a way to reach your current and potential customers. With the power of social media, the size of your business is less important.
When time is a challenge, which normally is the case with entrepreneurs, using the right tools can come in handy to save time and make things easier. We compiled our Top 10 Social Media Marketing Tools and you can download this list for free for our website.
Small business challenge five – Lack of time and burnout
The biggest issue with entrepreneurs is finding the time for themselves yet it’s the most important thing one can do. From working out and meditating to taking time off to be with loved ones and to step outside of the day to day minutiae, every one needs time to recharge the batteries.
Burnout is not an option when your livelihood depends on you. Take care of yourself and your business will flourish.
Milena Regos is principal and founder of Out & About Marketing, an Incline Village-based digital marketing and social media consulting firm. She can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. This post first appeared on Out&About Marketing website.
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