What Are The Biggest Day-to-Day Challenges of Running a Business?

The founders behind firms such as Powwownow and Duplia discuss the stumbling blocks they have to conquer daily to succeed

What Are The Biggest Day-to-Day Challenges of Running a Business?

They say that the day you think you’ve made it, is the day you start your decline and it’s this attitude that fuels small business owners every minute of every waking day. With the UK’s economic future more uncertain than ever, even the smallest setback can have big implications for a small firm and it’s the ability to pick yourself back up that can often separate the wheat from the chaff.

On the back of this, we’ve gathered insights from some of the country’s top small business owners on what’s their biggest day-to-day challenge as they run their business.

People issues

Recruiting talented staff

“Good candidates dropping out. Our students and internal team spend lots of time with candidates and build strong relationships. When a good candidate decides not to go through with an interview or takes up another job offer elsewhere it can be demoralising.

“With the current volume of great talent on the university scene, this is only ever a short-term set back so it is just a case of keeping everyone motivated.” – Ed Lewis, Ali-Quantum

Making time to talk to staff

“Getting to spend enough time with the people in our organisation. There’s always so much going on that it can be tough to catch up with people to see what’s happening in their world and get their point of view on how everything is going in the business. 

“We do make a point of celebrating successes we have as a team, whether that’s an in-office catch-up or a trip to the pub.” – Sean Hoban, Kimble Applications

Ensuring staff are inspired

“The biggest challenge I face on a daily basis would probably be ensuring that all my staff are inspired and happy to be at Powwownow.

“This may sound a little cheesy but that is why we make such an effort with away days and running social events, I am aware that the little things can ultimately make a big difference to individuals.” – Jason Downes, Powwownow

Finding like-minded people

“I think it’s really important to surround yourself with like-minded people because you’ll be able to bounce ideas around and self-motivate quickly.

“For the first two years of running M-24, I hopped from coffee house to coffee house and didn’t get feedback on ideas that I came up with. This was difficult because I was never 100% sure if I was doing the right thing.” – Mat Dusting, M-24

Red tape

Over the top health and safety

“Over the top health and safety rules and unrealistic expectations of timescales. Unfortunately, too many health and safety regulations are designed to cover all bases rather than geared to the trade in question.

“This eats up valuable time when we arrive on site especially when we are informed that there will be a two-hour induction in order to complete an hour’s work.” – Richard Lancaster, Lustalux

Managing finances

Waiting for a sale

“When selling to large financial institutions, we have to be prepared for long sales times. Since our clients are large and operate in a highly regulated environment, a sales cycle from the first meeting to actual live use could be six to 18 months.” – Erki Kert, Big Data Scoring

Knowing your numbers

“Numbers, numbers, numbers!

“We have a saying that we always need to know our number. Whether it is sales pipeline, cashflow, project pipeline, development roadmap tracking. Each area has targets to keep us true and at any one point we know where we are at and if we need to be doing anything different.

“There are some useful tools available to help us do this, such as online accounting packages, virtual project management portals and so on.” – Oliver Rowbory and Animesh Chowdhury, The Good Till Co.

Cash is king

“Managing cashflow – most businesses do not fail because they wake up one morning and find that they have no customers. They fail because they run out of cash to manage day-to-day operations.” – Daren Spence, We Are Tea

“Cashflow, profit margins and overheads. These are the big three for me. As we are an e-commerce business, margins (both directly and indirectly) affect every aspect of your business.

“Margins affect your cashflow and as any business will tell you, managing cashflow correctly is the key to success and growth. Working with sensible profit margins can ensure your overheads can be less of a headache.” – Leigh Cowell, KingstonMemoryCards.co.uk

“Your finances. Without decent cashflow it is virtually impossible to grow effectively. Even if you can achieve growth with poor cashflow, those problems will only grow with you and will ultimately make your business untenable.

“Furthermore, while strong cashflow helps make a business a good place to work, bad cashflow dominates everything. It means that leaders often have to make bad short-term decisions to try and address cashflow; decisions that may not make any long-term strategic sense” – Martin Campbell, Ormbsy Street

Sales and customer service

Meeting consumer expectations

“Our biggest challenge is to be able to meet all customer expectations. We’re in a culture of price-matching and everybody wants the latest products at the cheapest prices.

“When a customer asks for a discount or tells us about a deal elsewhere that we can’t match, we simply remind them of the benefits from buying from us.” – Ross Walker, Rocket Centre

Picking up enquiries

“Our biggest challenge is to stay on track with all tasks we set out to achieve each day. This includes making sure all  enquiries are picked up straight away to meet customer expectations.

“We’re the UK’s leading supplier and owner of fun event equipment and this is reflected with our leading premium service. This means always providing professional and expert advice for our customers including both the highest quality fun day equipment and services.” – James Sandwell, Sunshine Events UK

Leadership and management

The days are too short

“Time management! The days are too short! It’s very hard to keep track of my work and my tasks when I have to be on hand for the team and get things done with them.

“The company is small, and we help each other a lot. So by the time I have got around to my own tasks after delegating the working day is gone!” – Michael Venn, Duplia

Having time to think

“Having the space in the day or even the month to actually think about the business rather than running around ‘doing’ too much. It’s a constant struggle that I am particularly bad at because I like to always take on new challenges.” – Jackie Fast, Slingshot Sponsorship

Going outside your comfort zone

“As a naturally introverted person I don’t enjoy selling. So overcoming the instinct to not pick up the phone is a daily struggle. But it’s like going to the gym. Getting off your backside in the first place is by far the hardest bit.” – Pete Walter, Deal With The Media

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