The biggest small business challenges + how to overcome them

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Starting a small business is probably one of the most exciting things you can do. Between creating new products and building your team, entrepreneurship is full of unique challenges that feel great to solve. 

But the process of finding that solution is anything but easy. 

Whether your small business is just getting off the ground or you’ve been running for decades, there are a number of challenges business owners face every day. And just when you find the solution to one problem, another seems to pop up. 

Unfortunately, there is no handbook for creating a successful, sustainable business—but that doesn’t mean there aren’t great tips and tricks out there you can apply to your own business. In this post, we’ll share some of the biggest challenges that small businesses face and how you can overcome them:

Keep reading to learn more about these common small business challenges:

  1. Building brand awareness
  2. Being accessible to customers
  3. Connecting with the right leads
  4. Missing deadlines or due dates
  5. Protecting customer data
  6. Hiring the right people
  7. Only meeting—not exceeding—customer expectations

The 7 most common small business problems—and how to solve them

While not every business owner has dreams of becoming the next Amazon or Apple, growth still tends to be at the forefront of their minds. But even if you’re just trying to build your reputation locally, sustainable growth is a constant uphill battle. 

Then there are the many small businesses that focus so much on closing the deal that they forget to invest in the customers they already have. They treat customer support as a second or third priority, which often creates new challenges that make scaling difficult

Here are some of the biggest small business challenges in both of these areas, and specific ways to overcome them. 

1. Building brand awareness

Before you can start growing, your audience needs to know that you exist. You’re not going to become a household name overnight. 

But sometimes, trying to build awareness about your brand can feel like shouting into the void. With so many other businesses and brand names out there, getting your target audiences’ attention (and holding it long enough for them to remember you) isn’t easy. 

While constantly repeating yourself and blasting your audience with ads is one way to boost recognition, it’s probably not the most efficient. Not only is it expensive, but it can also frustrate your audience if they keep seeing your ads and they’re not interested in your product. And if you don’t have a solid campaign behind your promotion, you might be getting their attention just to lose them if they don’t know how to convert. 

How to overcome brand awareness challenges 

To build brand awareness, you need to find a memorable (and relevant) way to stand out. Here are a few ideas: 

jetblue social media tone of voice

partner marketing idea for small busienss saturday

2. Being accessible to customers 

Today’s customers have high expectations when it comes to how they receive support. Someone answering the phones from 9 to 5 on weekdays probably isn’t going to cut it. 

But for small businesses (and small budgets), it’s hard to have someone available at all hours of the day. However, meeting customer expectations when they need help the most is a crucial challenge to figure out.

How to overcome customer support accessibility challenges 

It’s probably not realistic to wait by the phone at all hours of the day. And even if it was, your customers might be reaching out through other ways too, like Facebook and Twitter (and email, and live chat…)

To be accessible to your customers at all times (and in ways they want to connect with you)—without having to pull all-nighters, here are some ideas: 


customer service analytics

3. Connecting with the right leads

Lead generation and nurturing are often viewed as a major challenge for small businesses. But while attracting potential new customers is difficult, another big challenge is connecting with the right leads. 

In order to grow, your small business needs to get in front of the right people—not just any people that will pay attention. 

How to overcome lead generation challenges 

To connect with the right leads, you need to start weeding out unfit leads from your funnel from the very beginning. Here are some ideas to make that happen. 

Pro-tip: Adding a lead scoring strategy to your sales process can help you make sure you’re investing in leads who are more likely to making a purchase, while seeing which leads may need a little nurturing (for example, through email campaigns).

4. Missing deadlines or goals 

Missing a deadline might not fall under a traditional “growth” challenge, but if you’re unable to get the day-to-day items done on schedule, you’re delaying your company’s growth. Deadlines or due dates help your business stay on track, even if they’re only implemented internally. And while things can happen to throw you off track, constantly missing due dates or deadlines could be a sign that things just aren’t working for your team. 

At the heart of this challenge is more often than not due to a lack of communication. Why? Because when teams don’t communicate with each other (or prospects, or partners, or clients, and so on), that’s when things tend to get missed.

Someone misses an email in their overflowing inbox, and doesn’t realize that today’s actually an important deadline. Or, you’re about to have an intense conversation with a client that should be better as a face-to-face chat, but they’re far away and you can only call them on the phone.

Both of these are examples of why it’s important to have different options for communicating with other people. Is your team equipped with different communication channels?

How to overcome missing deadlines 

To solve this productivity challenge, you need to get to the root of why deadlines are being missed. Here are some ideas: 

insurance task in ringcentral app

🕹️ Get a hands-on look at how RingCentral works by booking a product tour:

💰 You can also use this calculator to see roughly how much your business could save by using RingCentral to support your team’s communication with each other—and clients.

5. Protecting customer data

Whether you’re storing customer email addresses and names for newsletter mailing lists or you have credit card information saved from previous purchases, you’re responsible for all the customer data they’ve chosen to share with you. If that information falls into the wrong hands, it’s your reputation on the line. 

However, many small businesses think data security is only for the big names—leaving them (and their customers) exposed. 

How to overcome data security challenges 

While you can’t eliminate the threat of a cyber attack entirely, you can implement measures to ensure the data you have on customers is properly protected. Here are some ideas for resolving customer data security challenges. 

6. Hiring the right people

Any time you grow your business, you probably also need to consider expanding your team. A one (or two)-person team can only do so much, and as you get new customers, you need the staff to make sure that your new business is well maintained. 

However, growing your team can cause issues if it’s not done right. If you’re not strategic about how you hire, you might find that you don’t have the right personalities on your team or that the new hires aren’t skilled to handle the new challenges that come with new clients. Or, you might wait too long to hire new employees and end up frustrating customers in the meantime. 

How to overcome hiring challenges 

Hiring will be unique from company to company, but before you start bringing new employees on board, here are some things to consider:

7. Only meeting—not exceeding—customer expectations 

Meeting customer expectations is a good start, but really, it’s the minimum of what you want to be delivering customers. While meeting customer expectations isn’t going to hurt your brand reputation, it’s also not going to win you any new business. 

Exceeding expectations on the other hand has the power to wow existing customers and encourage them to share their experience with friends and family. When you have customers vouching for the great work you do or service you provide, that’s free marketing. And everyone loves free marketing.

How to overcome expectation challenges 

So, how do you dazzle customers? Here are some ideas. 

Ready to nip these small business challenges in the bud? 

So many small businesses challenges can be solved with one thing: better communication. Whether we’re talking about issues with how your team connects with one another or how you provide support to your customers, finding ways to have better, more productive conversations can solve a number of small business challenges. 

RingCentral provides opportunities to strengthen communication, share documents and information, and even receive feedback from the people you need to impress the most. By opening those communication pathways and providing everyone with an opportunity to be a part of the conversation, your business challenges will become a thing of the past. 

Originally published Nov 19, 2020

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