Help Is on the Way! (for 5 Common Obstacles Every Entrepreneur Faces)
Entrepreneurs are a different breed. While there is no "one-size-fits all" description for them (or any professional category), this group can typically be described as motivated, persistent, outspoken and resilient. These are people willing to do whatever it takes to make their vision a reality, even if sacrifices are required.
Unfortunately, though, entrepreneurs encounter roadblocks that no amount of hard work can overcome, and every one of these business owners will face some of them at one point or another.
So, if you yourself are that entrepreneur, what can you do when you stumble onto such an obstacle? Below are the five roadblocks I see most commonly and how to navigate them.
1. Strapped for cash
In an Entrepreneur article, freelance writer Adam Wren shared the real-life story of Brian Fox, founder and chief marketing officer of Confirmation.com, an online auditing company based in Tennessee. As an owner of a new startup, Fox had $92,000 in student loan debt, and regarded his Honda Accord as a safety net in case he needed to sell it to cover his employees' health insurance costs. "Luckily," Wren wrote, "a $25,000 in-the-nick-of-time check from an investor spared the car."
Many entrepreneurs find themselves similarly strapped for cash. Unfortunately, one's pride can get in the away of considering help even from an investor. But, if an investor believes in you and your business model, and is willing to help, accepting his or her money to keep your business afloat is a far better option than letting your venture fizzle out and leaving your employees without jobs.
If your cash reserves are low, another worthy option is a loan. There are many banks and organizations offering help to small businesses, such as LendingClub, the Small Business Administration and domestic banks. Today, there are also companies like SmartBiz, Fundbox and OnDeck, which are taking a different approach to small business lending, with low-interest and personal approvals; these may be worth looking at.
Virtual business management consultant Chris Ducker is outspoken when it comes to entrepreneurial burnout. Ducker wrote on his website how, "Everything changed for me at the end of 2009, when I suffered a horrific burnout. I was living like most entrepreneurs, working 14-hour days, six days a week, spending very little time with my family and working 'in' my business, instead of 'on' it way too much."
He still enjoyed the process of building his business, Ducker admitted, but he was exhausted in every conceivable way, and eventually landed in the hospital.
Ducker should have known of the several strategies available to lessen the stress of being overextended. Hiring like-minded people is one way. If you've been spending too much time in your business and not on it, it may be time to consider whether your team has enough like-minded staff on hand.
As an entrepreneur, you may find it hard to let go of some of the lower-level operations, but if you hire people you trust to manage certain areas of the business and on-board them carefully, you will likely find that things start going more smoothly than when you handled it all yourself!
Another great option is to outsource some of the menial work that you don't need to be spending your time on. Bookkeeping, website development, and repetitive operational tasks are all great candidates for work that can be contracted, freeing you up to think about strategy and to delegate appropriately.
3. Unable to find investors
New York City fashion designer Autumn Adeigbo's biggest challenge was gaining access to capital. After nine years of searching, in December 2016, she found a quality investor to work with. There were many steps she took to gain the confidence of investors, including: creating a standout product, building a buzz for her business, building her expertise, creating an outstanding pitch deck using Airbnb as her template and building an excellent team.
One of the number one things any business owner can do is revisit his or her business plan and make sure the value is clear. Your business plan is your essential tool for attracting investors' help. If they don't see the value, or aren't clear on it, they aren't likely to take a chance on you. Studying how to craft a solid business pitch can drastically improve your chances of impressing potential investors
4. Blocked by suppliers' and contractors' high price tags
James Schramko of SuperFastBusiness is a tough negotiator. His "Own the Racecourse" strategy used to involve issuing press releases whenever he had something newsworthy to share -- which was often. But, utilizing a service like Cision's PRWeb, he found that one release could cost as little as $99, and as much as $369. Knowing his team would be making extensive use of that service, he negotiated a monthly bulk deal that allowed him to save on the costs of his media-onslaught strategy.
Certainly, the cost of suppliers or contractors may be high. But, failing to leverage the services and help of others could easily lead to being overworked and thus ultimately failing in other significant ways. As Schramko did, it may be necessary to think outside the box and identify more cost-effective solutions. For instance, you could hire overseas freelancers on Upwork. You could experiment with low-cost service providers on Fiverr. You could talk to your current suppliers and contractors and determine if they would be willing to give you a bulk discount.
5. Stymied because the market isn't responding to your business model
Naama Bloom is the founder and CEO of HelloFlo, originally a tampon subscription service. After launching her "Camp Gyno" ad in 2013, Bloom quickly discovered that what people wanted was information, not product. To date, the video ad has attracted 12 million views on YouTube, and as a result, Bloom has been flooded with emailed questions concerning menopause, menstruation and more. Bloom saw an opportunity and quickly turned her focus to creating content to answer those questions. She even partnered with other brands to develop it.
Pivoting -- the way Bloom did -- is sometimes exactly what you need to do when the market isn't responding to your business model. If you aren't sure what your next steps should be, it may be worth looking for outside help in the form of a consultant. Take time to reassess your business plan and rebrand based on what people are responding to, instead of stubbornly insisting on selling a service or product your target audience isn't asking for.
Entrepreneurs are problem-solvers. If you want to be successful in your chosen field, there's a good chance you will encounter seemingly insurmountable obstacles along the way. What will help you in the process is developing your ability to think creatively. This will allow you to identify more solutions for a pending issue, leaving you with many options to consider, instead of the most obvious, and oftentimes less-than ideal solution.