How to plow through common roadblocks every entrepreneur faces.
When the year began, venture capitalists (VC) felt optimistic about 2014. Nearly 60 percent of VCs predicted higher levels of investment than last year. That’s up from only 27 percent who felt the same when 2013 began.
1. Challenge: Managing
legal and financial requirements
Before a business owner can even open the doors, numerous legal and financial requirements must be met: registering a business name, obtaining a tax identification number and setting up financial accounts. “Each step may take several hours of research to make sure that you’re making the right decision for your business,” says Alex McCrery, owner of New York-based Tilit Chef Goods, an online restaurant-uniform retailer.
Solution: Plan out a
long-term schedule and check off each task
A business owner should consider consulting with an attorney and an accountant while going through the legal and financial processes required to start a business and plan out a long-term schedule for completing various requirements. While McCrery was setting up Tilit, he kept track of the progress of each legal and financial requirement by maintaining a running list of tasks that needed to be completed. “By making a daily checklist, you’ll stay on point and not get overwhelmed,” he says.
2. Challenge: Getting
the word out about your small business
With more than a billion users on social media, spreading the word about your new small business should feel easier than ever. But are you targeting the right customers?
Solution: Create a marketing
In April, McCrery launched a new line of chef coats. But months prior, he had built a long-term social media strategy targeted toward fellow restaurant professionals and sent out questionnaires to chefs with a strong social media presence to learn more about what features they look for in a chef coat. McCrery’s social media campaign, #ChefCoatProject, included contests and product giveaways that helped to build an interest about his product among chefs online. “Simply find a goal and work backwards, whether that means using a chart or outlining your steps,” he says.
3. Challenge: Letting
paperwork consume your workload
Paperwork and processes can drown small business owners. When Ron Holt, CEO of Two Maids & A Mop, started his Birmingham, Ala.-based business, he was a sole proprietor and handled all operations, from cleaning homes to handling accounts receivable. During the first two years of operating his business, paperwork took up about 40 percent of his day. “It became a drag on the business,” he says.
Solution: Create an operating
manual from the start
As Holt’s business grew, he connected with consultants to help streamline and document the processes that he knew by heart. He used the information to create an operating manual for employees. He says that if he had documented efficient processes from the start, he wouldn’t have had to bring in consultants.