Sunday, November 30, 2014
Starting a small business is no small enterprise. It’s one of the most daunting tasks you can undertake, with numerous barriers – some psychological, others all too real – standing between you and success.
But, goes some adage or other, it’s not the obstacles that trip you up, it’s how you approach them. Overcoming the problems inherent in starting a new business is a minimum requirement for any entrepreneur. Indeed, it’s helpful to consider starting a business as nothing but a series of problems to solve. With that in mind, we’ve identified ten common hurdles for startups – and how to jump them:
Forgetting What You Do Well
The nucleus of any new business is necessarily a multi-tasking team. Entrepreneurs have to act as their own salespeople, accountants, marketers – whatever role they lack the resources to fill with an employee they must tackle themselves. This works fine during the startup phase: not only do entrepreneurs know the product they created inside out, they have the passion and drive to make it succeed. Once the business starts being supported by hired staff (who may or may not have shareholder status), the entrepreneur tends to distance themselves from the primary function of the business: selling.
This is a natural development, and though it’s not advisable to micromanage every aspect of a business as you hire specialized expertise, it would be just as unwise to take your eye off the selling function altogether. As your workforce grows, why not hop back on the phones (or head out to sales meetings) once a month – that way your staff can see how you do it. After all, you’re sales skills were good enough to employ them in the first place, right? 
Being Afraid
Finding excuses not to do something is the easiest thing you can do. You should have trepidation about leaving the security of a cubicle-bound existence – it’s a huge step to take, one that only a sociopath would approach unafraid. But instead of being paralyzed by worry, take a leaf out of FDR’s book: use fear not as an excuse but as a motivating factor. Accept that fear will always be there, embrace it, and you will overcome it.
Having No Money
Financial constraints are the most commonly-cited reason for wannabe entrepreneurs failing to realize their dream. And while cashflow is a very real, very necessary requirement for getting a business off the ground, the less you view money as the make-or-break element of your company, the better you’re product or service will be.
Of course, forging a healthy relationship with the bottom line is essential. Ensure all funding is in place ahead of your launch date; there are plenty of funding sources for entrepreneurs, with everyone from government bodies to local organizations throwing down to help promising ideas thrive. Know all the options available to you, and eliminate those that don’t apply. The more funding sources you have at your disposal, the better.
You can also overcome financial constraints by using technology in place of staff. Key jobs like collections and accounting can be automated, and a well-designed responsive website can save serious money in the long run. Cloud telephony and call tracking can help you minimize payroll and gather invaluable data on customer habits.
Avoid too the temptation to start living the life of a successful CEO before you are one. That luxury office and glossy line of brochures may impress some clients, but the foreclosure notice on your front door in six months probably won’t. Remember this: nearly 50% of the Inc. 500 started their business with less than $20,000.
Lack of Education
Even with the funds and the will to win firmly in place, you can’t keep paying the bills without the skills. Not indefinitely. There are all sorts of competencies you need to succeed: leadership, teamwork, negotiation and communication. Overcoming educational barriers can take a long time, but it will save you innumerable headaches further down the line. 

Watch out for Part Two next week!