How to Handle 12 Big Issues for Small Businesses

By: Diana Barnum

Some day-to-day work issues can turn into big headaches for small businesses. For example, not having enough help during a busy season or new promotion can hurt production, sales and customer relations in the fulfillment of orders and customer service.

A quick glance at the following stats reported by the US. Small Business Administration, shows that small businesses are not small potatoes in today’s economy. In fact, the number of small businesses multiplied by the number of large problems equals the need for a lot of solutions.

Small firms*:

  • Total approximately 23 million in the United States, with roughly 75 percent of the firms having no employees.
  • Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
  • Employ half of all private sector employees.
  • Pay 44.3 percent of the total U.S. private payroll.
  • Generate 60 to 80 percent of net new jobs annually.
  • Create more than 50 percent of non-farm, private gross-domestic product (GDP).
  • Are employers of 39 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer workers).
  • Made up 97 percent of all identified exporters and produced 29 percent of the known export value in FY 2001.

How can small business handle big issues? OhioHelp.net, an Ohio-based company that helps businesses worldwide with their marketing, public relations and freelance writing services, shared 12 tips based on their own client projects.

1. Need help? Find some great subcontractors & cyber-helpers. Post for help on your favorite forums and freelance biding sites like Elance.

2. Need enhanced product / service lines? Offer larger pricing packages or specials for larger businesses and clients who have worked with you previously.

And offer introductory pricing and smaller packages to new clients and smaller businesses.

3. Have a guarantee? Forget worrying about “Guarantees" and offer payment due AFTERWARDS with no-cost trials- -so clients can have the product and make sure it meets their needs. (Only risk small portions of the project at a time, though. But it works great for everyone.)

4. Need more business? Keep marketing- offline, especially. Work with associations in your industry.

5. Need help collecting? Keep ongoing collection efforts going with a list and don’t be afraid to offer deals. Anyone can get into a bind once in awhile. And helpful efforts are appreciated. Offering multiple payment options help, too.

6. Money flow problems? Pay helpers, media ad billings and suppliers FIRST. Period. Also let clients know that you pay your helpers promptly (like every Friday).

7. Are you keeping up with the competition? Keep educating yourself and your helpers. For example,inexpensive company subscriptions to an ebookwholesaler http://presssuccess.com/wholesale and the jvAlert Perpetual Learning Series http://www.jvAlert.com/LearningSeries.aspx?id=1805 help to catch up with the latest scoop about what works and what doesn’t work from top-level marketers & industry leaders.

8. Do you have ongoing campaigns? Send a direct mail campaign one month, then call them the next. Continue with a monthly or bimonthly postcard newsletter with calls in between. Keep in touch regularly.

9. Need to jumpstart new business, maybe B2B? Submit an executive resume via ResumeRabbit and ResumeZapper, both listed here: http://movingaheadcommunications.com/partners.html . In the resume, include an active link to get the updated version 24/7. More than a year later, local & non-local companies will still seek you out with proposals.

10. Are you trying new product and service lines? Don’t be afraid to test and try new things. Place small classified ads & really listen to what the people want when they call in. Stay competitive.

11. Are your goals too high? Don’t try jumping the gun on increasing income too rapidly. If your income is very small to start with, you may get away with doubling it from one month to the next. But for higher figures, higher $$ can mean increased expenses, work load, deadlines, workers coordinating, communications, stress, technical issues, etc…Instead of a shaky foundation, grow slow and learn to gradually handle more in a professional, fun, growing environment. An average, solid growth figure is much closer to 20% than it is 100%.

12. Are you keeping track? Keep progress logs similar to this listing so that you have a history of issues you’re working on. They say, “History repeats itself" so write out your positive results.

* Sources: U.S. Bureau of the Census; Advocacy-funded research by Joel Popkin and Company (Research Summary #211); U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Population Survey; U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration.

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