This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of CORT. All opinions are 100% mine.
Growth challenges faced by small business owners are a never ending process. Though it’s hard to have a positive perspective during this crucial time, growth challenges need to be viewed as a positive. The fact your business is growing at all means you must be doing something right, and as we all know to well, few things ever get handed to us in this life.
Though it’s so overblown and cliché at this point that I hesitate to say it: 80 – 90% of all businesses fail within the first five years. If you’re growing, you’re indeed winning at this risky and uncertain game called entrepreneurship.
I had a chance to talk with one budding entrepreneur recently, and he had some great advice about stumbling blocks he’s encountered and has graciously offered free advice for overcoming common struggles small businesses face.
Meet Andrew Horner, the owner of Horn Marketing, based in Toronto Canada. Just like many small business owners, Andrew’s startup days are pretty much a roller coaster ride.
He says, “I had more than a few successful campaigns under my belt as a publisher doing CPA marketing for various companies and ad networks online back in 2008. My business was flourishing, and within four months of the New Year’s ball getting dropped at Time Square, I needed to move out of my home office and into a rented office space, complete with a newly hired assistant. I had no idea what I was getting into!”
A couple of the immediate growth challenges Andrew faced:
Dealing with employees…
Employees can be a real challenge. After working largely for myself, while outsourcing a great deal of work overseas, I now had my full-time business assistant Ashley to contend with.
She was (and still is) great. However, I really had to learn to think and act less selfishly – to be more ‘politically correct’ if you will, in everything I communicated with her. I had to regularly find ways to let her know how much I appreciated all the HARD work she was doing for me – coordinating outsourcers, collaborating with networks and campaign managers, and answering a gajillion inquiries on a daily basis from my huge network of affiliate sites.
Andrew’s best advice for dealing with employees:
The dynamic of seeing my employees on a daily basis is one I’ve always struggled with, but which I’ve consistently gotten better at with time. Now I have five full-time employees and dozens more on any given day that I’m working with around the world. The key to success, I’ve found, is to be really open to communication, and always focus on positives over negatives whenever possible.
Growing business, growing expenses…
Looking back, when I had to expand my operations or quite literally lose my mind with all the work I had on my plate, I really thought that a growing business would automatically equate to a growing bank account. Then the bills started coming in: lease payments, renter’s insurance, payments on my business line-of-credit, and a slew of other unforeseen bills. Seeing a negative balance and mounting obligations to creditors became a real big deal for a while!
Plus, I’d went more than a little overboard furnishing the office with the best tech at the time, standing desks for Ashley and me, and a bunch of frivolities like an early Keurig machine and massive wall-mounted 60-inch monitor I could have likely done without or rented much more cheaply. I didn’t have the money to pay cash for these things, but pretty much everything, but the $300 Keurig added thousands to my debt-load. And things added up quickly!
Andrew’s best advice to entrepreneurs for keeping expenses down:
Hindsight being 20/20, I would have been a little smarter about mitigating some of those non-essential expenses. You can’t get away from paying the landlord or the tax man, but buying the fanciest technology and office furniture, and décor probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do.
There’s a lot of ways to make sure you have the equipment you need such as financing new or refurbished desktops and devices, and/or renting what you need until you have more cash in the bank to buy items on your office wish list. Neither may seem like a good solution at first, but when things start to break after a year, and you’re stuck buying that stuff all over again, a few bucks a week or month becomes definite savings in my book.
In his story, Andrew shared two of his main concerns – employee management and expense management.
In managing employees, there is no other way to get better except excelling in communication. Plus, you need to master the delegation game. Given his past experience as a self-employed person, this is quite challenging – not only to Andrew, but also to others who follow his footsteps.
Andrew also shared that as his business grows, his expenses are, too. To make matter worse he went overboard with the office furniture, investing in unnecessary furniture, adding more burden to his business debt-load.
His advice for furniture rental is spot-on; investing early on acquiring office furniture is just a waste of working capital, which can be used for other more important aspect of business, such as business development.
That said, probably the best route to take by a budding small business owner is to use furniture rental services, such as those offered by CORT Workplace Solutions – the industry leader in the furniture rental space.
Small Business Week is approaching. If you are a small business owner, you should use the momentum to make some improvements in your business. Not only preparing your staff for an increase in sales during the Week, but you should also preparing your furniture and fixture, in such a way that those can help improving the morale of your employees and customers alike.
If you are a budding entrepreneur, you may want to use the week-long event to gain a better understanding on the current happening in the local business community. There will be special offers to make use of, as well as workshops to attend. Regarding the latter, you may want to look for valuable online workshops hosted by experts, typically in the form of Twitter chats.
One of the Twitter chats that you should consider attending is CORT’s Small Business Week Twitter chat on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Join the chat for discussing the growing trends of co-working spaces across America, as well as featuring the who’s who in the niche.
When: Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 1:00 – 2:00 PM CT
- Melanie Jones, @melanie_cort, 107 followers
- Capital Factory, @CapitalFactory, 39.3K followers
- Michele Grant, TBD
How to join: Use this hashtag #WorkspacesChat, as well as these secondary ones, #DreamSmallBiz and #SmallBusinessWeek