Preparing for Success: Actionable Tips for the 5 Most Common Small Business Setbacks

Preparing for Success: Actionable Tips for the 5 Most Common Small Business Setbacks

You’ve got the idea, you’ve got the drive, and you’ve (hopefully!) got at least enough funding to kick things off. Although you’re well on your way to creating a successful small business, you probably realize that the road ahead of you will only get tougher. There will almost certainly be pitfalls that will make you want to give up, but one critical component will stop you from abandoning ship – preparedness.

A critical component of preparing is knowing what to prepare for (of course!). When you understand and prepare for the potential pitfalls on your path to success, you significantly increase your ability to overcome them. That’s why I’ve put together this list of some of the most significant small business setbacks I’ve seen while working with entrepreneurs as well as some actionable tips for overcoming them. Hopefully, this will help you prepare for the long but worthwhile road ahead of you.

1. Getting Your Name Out There

A solid marketing plan is essential. That being said, a good strategy can cost you. This is where many small businesses get discouraged. Although it may seem like marketing is outside of your budget at the moment, there are ways to make it work without breaking the bank. Rather than hiring a firm or an in-house specialist, a smart option could be to look into hiring an intern and/or freelance professional. These creative minds will help you generate and execute a fresh marketing strategy until you can afford to hire a full-time team. You can use services like or (a new website where Elance and oDesk have joined forces) to find qualified marketing professionals.

2. Building an Awesome Team

Once you’re ready to start hiring additional part- and full-time employees, the process can be a bit tougher than you think. Although talent pools are growing bigger and better in most industries, finding star employees can still prove to be pretty difficult. This is why you will need to carefully consider your needs and refrain from compromising throughout your hiring process. You’ll also need to set a solid plan for the hiring process to ensure you stay on task and productive as you search and interview for the top talent in your industry. A recent article on the Brazen blog offered up an awesome hiring strategy for businesses ranging from small to large.

3. Setting up Shop

As your staff grows, finding the space and bandwidth to support them can be tricky. This is where it pays to do a little research. If you’ve ever bought a home, you probably understand the ridiculous amount of time and effort that goes into your purchase. It will be important to understand this ahead of time and set aside a sufficient amount of time to tend to purchase details during the workday as this is when most loan offices, banks, and realtors are available as well. Once you’ve prepared for the process, it will be time to start finding the perfect space. This is where a little strategy comes in. Bplans offers up an excellent article with tips for purchasing your first office space.

As far as bandwidth goes, research will be essential as you select an internet provider and package. You’ll need to compare your ISP options carefully to ensure you get a sufficient amount of speed and bandwidth while staying within your budget. Online tools can help you do this if you’d prefer not to search and contact providers manually.

4. Outsourcing Efforts

Even as your team grows, you’ll notice that it’s still difficult to handle everything on your own. This is where you’ll need help from outside sources like agencies and freelancers. Freelancers are great for small projects like adding a blog to your site or completing certain print materials; however, an agency will be ideal for larger projects like designing and building an entire site or creating and executing an ongoing SEO strategy. Services like Agency Spotter can help you find recommended creative agencies in your area. Freelancers for other projects can be found using the same resources listed in point one.

5. Balancing Your Vision with Your Bottom Line

This is one of the most difficult things for a small business owner to do. Although it’s important to hold onto your vision, it’s crucial to remember that your bottom line is just as important. This is where a financial advisor or CFO (chief financial officer) can help you. Hiring a professional with an alternative perspective will make it exponentially easier to stay on track as you navigate the rough waters of balancing your entrepreneurial vision and profit focus.

It’s imperative that you hire someone you can really trust here. Take your time throughout the hiring process as you seek a financial advisor who you can put your confidence in. Seek out references, pull a background check, and don’t be afraid to pass on a candidate who is really only qualified based on his or her skills and not so much based on his or her compatibility with you, your business and your team. This person will need to work very closely with you, so don’t compromise.Find someone who is both good on paper and a great fit with your company.

So there you have it: the top 5 struggles every small business owner faces on his or her journey to success, with actionable tips to help you make it through each common setback. Taking action on each of these points will set you up for small business success.

Cosette is a freelance content strategist living in the Silicon Slopes. She has worked with several local startups to create and maintain solid content and SEM strategies. In her free time, Cosette enjoys hiking, biking, and travel. You can find her on Twitter at @CosetteJarett.

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