In many ways, running a business is akin to constant fire-fighting. While you may know that you need to focus on the future of your business and develop a plan for future growth, the here and now tends to dominate much of your working time – and, in particular, solving problems likely commands more of your schedule than you are entirely comfortable with.
However, while fire-fighting problems is part and parcel of working life for any entrepreneur, being in such a situation is far from ideal. If your focus is always being diverted by present-day issues, then the ability to look further ahead is compromised – and in the worst case scenarios, this can lead to an inability to embrace opportunities that could further the development of the business. What you need is a playbook to effectively solve some of the most common problems that business owners are likely to face. In order to assist you with this task, below, we’ve presented five problems most business owners will be familiar with, as well as suggestions for how you could help rectify the issue once and for all.
THE PROBLEM: Difficulty attracting the right candidates for roles
Initially, it seems that a business holds all the cards when it comes to recruitment. Jobseekers want to be hired, which means that the industry enjoys the ability to pick and choose the best possible candidates from the available pool. However, many businesses find that while they may have a high number of applicants to choose from, none of the candidates is a perfect fit for their role. As a result, vacancies remain open for longer, or the business has to make a gamble on hiring someone they are not necessarily confident is suitable for the role.
THE SOLUTION: Outsource your recruitment
While it is often considered to be cheaper and more effective for companies to manage their recruitment needs in-house, the reality is that recruitment is a huge industry in and of itself. The reason that recruitment has become an industry is simple: it needs to be. Specialist recruitment agencies are dedicated to finding the best possible candidates for their clients, which means all of their resources can be channelled into this single goal; this means that, in turn, they are far more likely to be able to access high-quality candidates. It’s therefore worth establishing a long-term partnership with a recruitment agency, as doing so simplifies matters for you immensely: rather than having to go through a long in-house recruitment process, you can make a single phone call and then wait for your agency to supply a list of viable candidates for you to consider.
THE PROBLEM: Peaks and troughs in orders
In an ideal world, your business would always benefit from a slow, steady number of orders – enough for you to be able to generate good profits and stay busy, but not so many that you struggle to meet demand. Unfortunately, this ideal world scenario rarely seems to occur, and most businesses will struggle with periods of intense busyness, and relatively fallow periods.
THE SOLUTION: Dynamic marketing solutions
The best way to address this issue is to seek marketing solutions that can be changed quickly in order to reflect the current workflow. To achieve this, pay-per-click campaigns – such as those managed via Google Ads – are usually the best choice. When business is booming, you can lower your bid amounts, or cancel the campaign altogether if you prefer. When the pace of orders begins to slow down, you can restart the campaign or increase your bid amounts to catch more attention. Perhaps most importantly, you can make these tweaks almost instantaneously, which benefits your workflow while also allowing you to enjoy greater control over your marketing expenditure.
THE PROBLEM: Cash flow shortages
Cash is the lifeblood of a business, which is why it’s no surprise that businesses can quickly run into serious trouble if their cash flow begins to run dry. At best, businesses struggling for cash will have to resort to credit in order to meet their necessary expenses – which can lead to high interest payments, and ultimately debt issues. In the worst case scenarios, a lack of cash can simply mean that the business will no longer function.
THE SOLUTION: Establish a contingency fund
Contingency funds are relatively common practice for those seeking to improve their personal finances, but the same principle also works well for businesses. The idea of a contingency fund is that it is an amount of money that has no specific use; instead, it sits dormant and is only called into action in an emergency. Contingency funds can provide valuable peace of mind, helping to ensure that if your business does experience a temporary cash flow halt, you will still be able to meet your essential expenses without having to go into debt.
THE PROBLEM: Scheduling chaos
Scheduling when employees should and shouldn’t be working is one of the most fundamental tasks a business owner has to do, but it’s also one of the most complex. You have to juggle time off requests, absences, public holidays, shift swaps, and much more, all in an effort to ensure that your business is always adequately staffed. Given the massive number of variables in play, it is inevitable that the scheduling mishaps can and do happen – which can be hugely detrimental to your business as a whole.
THE SOLUTION: Use complete scheduling management platforms
The days of working out your employees’ work schedule with pen and paper or an Excel spreadsheet have, thankfully, passed. There is a variety of tools available that are designed to offer a dynamic, trustworthy solution to your scheduling woes; innovative platforms such as Sling scheduling features allow you to manage your schedule, monitor paid time off, and avoid scheduling conflicts that could otherwise threaten to grind your business to a halt.
THE PROBLEM: Burnout
It is largely accepted as fact that to run a business, an entrepreneur has to be willing to work hard and make sacrifices in order to ensure the company can succeed. However, while hard work is part and parcel of owning a business, the threat of burnout is ever-present. Burnout causes a variety of different issues, but poor decision making, stress, anxiety, and fatigue are usually the most common symptoms. As one would expect, an entrepreneur who is experiencing burnout is less likely to be able to manage their business as efficiently as they usually would.
THE SOLUTION: Take time off from your business regularly
Burnout can be caused by a number of scenarios, but in the vast majority of cases, a poor work-life balance is usually to blame. It’s therefore essential to ensure that while you may be willing to work hard, you also take time for yourself; time to relax, unwind, and think about things besides your business – and this should be a consistent effort, rather than simply encompassing a yearly vacation. Wherever possible, try to stick to a rigid schedule of work and non-work hours, and strive to ensure you always have at least one day dedicated to non-business activities each week.
Fire-fighting in business is all too common, resulting in entrepreneurs spending more time focused on the present than they do on the future of their business. By exploring the solutions above, you could well find that you can lay down the fire extinguisher for awhile, and formulate a plan for future success that will significantly benefit your whole business. Good luck!
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*This is a collaborative post