A survey taken in 2016 by Wasp Barcode Technologies, the State of Small Business Report tracked 1,102 small business owners–highlighting fifteen challenges many of them faced last year and beyond.
In today’s video podcast, John Verlin discusses these fifteen challenges and some possible solutions for small business owners to consider.
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Marketing Your Business; 15 Challenges Facing Small Business Owners, Podcast #41
Host: John D. Verlin
Wonderful good afternoon to you today, John Verlin once again with On-Demand
Advertising Solutions. another Digital Marketing Update this is number 41 the
podcast number 41. There was a survey taken that I thought was great and it
was done April of 2016. This is a post from All Business.com author’s Brian
Sutter, and it’s really good summary of basically the top 15 challenges facing
small business today. Now this was taken April of 2016, little over a year ago. But
I was about to say, well it should be so much. But I think in general for small
business owners, you’ll like this information. It’ll glean
possibly some of the things you’re things that you suspected. We’d love to
be able to interview your prospects or your customers right? Well this is what
they did, they actually took 1,100 small business owners and were able to get
answers from them. I was a little, I don’t want to say I was surprised or
shocked–but I was a little bit, because of my experiences talking to Chamber
members, Small Business Development Center instructors who work with a lot
of small business owners particularly the new businesses and startups. And they
you know, it’s pretty much in agreement with what I’ve discovered. But a few of
these areas I was surprised because this pretty much documents from an actual
survey things I’ve been suspecting–the challenges small business owners in
this survey were having issues with. More than half said they were hiring new
employees. That’s not terribly new because of the labor shortages as the
economy has come out of the recession. More and more people obviously are going
to be needed as companies grow. However you know we’re seeing maybe
not salaries growing as much. More stagnated and a number of things I’ve
read on blog posts about freelancing side gigs, part-time work things like
that. That’s probably going on as well and maybe one reason why people can’t
hire people because the job opportunities may not be paying what
people want and or their side businesses or side gigs that just don’t have enough
hours for people to work. The second challenge is employee health care and
this of course was done in 2016 referring to 2015 healthcare which was
beginning and 2016. The numbers jumped from like thirty percent of the small
business owners were concerned about it up to forty three percent and my guess
is today 2017, it’s even higher because of uncertainty. Even though we’ve got you
know the u.s. gov or US healthcare.gov is you know still offering an enrollment
right now. As a matter of fact, health care it’s been changed and Congress is
still battling with all that how they’re gonna do and whatever they’re going to
do. The third challenge, I guess you could call it is the confidence in the economy
has dropped. Now again, this is a year old but small business owners
have less confidence according to Mr. Sutter from this survey in the economy than they
did in 2015. Now this year, my guess is that’s it was a 25 percent bump compared to 21
percent in 2015. So you know it’s better for 2016. My guess is it’s even better
this year. Small businesses want to hire according to this–50% want to but they can’t
find qualified applicants and again that could come down to wages. It could come
down to new skills, new software, new platforms this whole shift we’ve talked
about in past podcasts of the new media. The new experiences, the customer
experiences. The focus on customer experience why this is you’ve got technology shifting
to smartphones and searches and artificial intelligence now and all this sort of thing.
There’s Alexa and Siri or what used to be Siri. I guess so yeah, things are changing and
you got to have people with skills to be able to do that. The fifth challenge is growing
revenue Seventy-one percent of small businesses expect revenue growth in 2016 more
than they did in 2015. That’s 57 percent and that’s great. It shows that you know
we’re coming out of the recession. Consider the boom I guess you want
to call it of entrepreneurial boom is still going. So they expect to increase revenue. The
sixth one is they don’t have a lot of love for government and they wanted a Republican
president which they got one. But fifty percent believe the government didn’t do
enough to support us small businesses and only 24 percent believed the
government did. Now we have I believe it’s Linda McMahon who is a Small
Business Administration’s new director and she had a you know obviously a small and
very successful wrestling type business. She sounds like a good person in the right place
at the right time to help small businesses grow. Number seven challenge they want
government completely out of small business One in ten said they didn’t
want any government involvement–well that’s pie in the sky probably, but at
least that was a desire that showed up on the survey which was interesting.
Number eight, they favored a Republican presidential win, which they got. And
number nine, now this I talked about this before folks but most marketing
budgets are small. Nine percent invests nothing in marketing, 25 percent invest
one to three percent of their revenue and 29 percent invest four to six
percent. Think about this, 9% don’t have any investment in
marketing. And 25% just put 2-3 percent of their revenues in. 29% do four
to six percent that’s the biggest amount you know 30 almost 30 percent put four
to six percent but what about the other 70 percent? What’s going on with them? Why
are they not investing in marketing? Now you would say well John, your marketing
background yeah you’re expecting that.
But think about okay what if they had to buy a building or building
insurance for their business. Would they skimp on that? Would they skimp on
financial advice? Accounting? Taxes? I mean, what makes marketing so different?
Because I think you know businesses as they grow or not grow they begin to
realize wait a minute–we’ve got to figure out what we’re doing for
marketing here. And they try to play catch-up rather than having as we talked about on
our last podcast, having a marketing plan in place so you can adjust it. Just like
any other plan part of your business. And again, I refer back to my experience in
advertising over the years and how shocked I was. This agrees with what I
experienced so you didn’t put any revenue aside to advertise what are you
gonna do six months from now? Well we had a really successful Christmas season.
okay, its February. What are you gonna do? I’m saying it’s the planning
aspect, in the budgeting aspect you know. Hey we are definitely putting aside you
know 10 grand a month to do social media, TV ads, radio. Having a definite plan with
a definite budget in mind and not just shooting from the hip. Because
that’s a guarantee. And I’ve seen this happen over and over where okay we got
to go out have a store closing sale or almost a going-out-of-business sale to
survive. And why did that have to happen? Well, my guess is you know lack of
planning. But the business environment changed. They didn’t anticipate. They
didn’t plan. I mean we can’t have a crystal ball but at least you know and
I’ve talked about this quite a bit–the competition. I don’t hear a whole lot of
marketing firms talking about competitors, not only their competitors but competitors
for their clients. The competition can sneak right in and just
steal your customers. If you don’t have a marketing plan in place and a
budget. What do you do when a new competitor comes in town? They’ve been checking
you out and your industry and your market and you had no idea. They just come moving
in here from San Diego. Opened up a whole new athletic apparel store right across the
street or a mile from yours. What do you do? That’s why this is important to plan
and budget just like anything else you would do. The tenth challenge was that
the top four marketing tools used by small business were email, company
websites, social media and word-of-mouth. Not terribly surprising but I’ve commented
on this before. First of all, to get the emails you’ve got to have customers or have them
sign up for something to legitimately get that email to send email blasts to them. It could
be a newsletter, it could be a free ebook, or anything you know. But you have
to get their email willingly and they have to agree to that to receive emails
from you. So email marketing yes, if you do it properly you know by getting
permission not spamming that kind of thing. Company websites. That’s huge. We’ve
talked about this quite a bit also, how small businesses so many of them I found
do not have that. And again, I’m shocked. That is your online presence. Social
media. More and more. So yes, you’re having to because that’s where your customers
and prospects are hanging out. And word-of-mouth–that kind of goes hand in
hand a little bit as more and more people are communicating. Particularly
younger people. I’ve heard yeah, they’ll be standing ten feet away and they’re
texting each other. They’re not even talking. That’s why these devices are becoming so
important. The 11th issue that a lot of small businesses have our challenge says
social media is not Universal. One in five small businesses did not use social
media. Sounds like most of them do but some don’t. And if you don’t, that again it could
affect your customer relationship with your prospects your business relationship.
Because they expect you to be up on the latest things. If they are, why aren’t you? And
they can look down on you for that. Number 12 it says, websites are missing key parts.
Only 50% of small businesses provide company locations, phone numbers, and email
addresses on their website. And only 35% give website visitors the opportunity to
apply for a job. 68% do not conduct e-commerce. Don’t even have phone numbers,
addresses or email addresses. Fifty percent! What is wrong with that? That surprises
me. You got a website. You’ve put 10 grand into or number, your address or your email
for crying out loud! I’m sorry. I just thought that shocked me. All right, number
13 of the challenge is small business owners faced in this survey inventory
information is not up-to-date. Only 16% use inventory control software systems.
56% used excel pen or paper or other systems that cannot be updated in real time. As
your business grows yeah you probably need some sort of accounting system or
inventory system to track everything to make you more efficient. The 14th
challenge information about their assets aren’t current. Asset tracking system
again like Excel or an accounting system again that will make you more productive
and efficient as your business grows–to track your assets. And creative and technical
work, number 15, gets farmed out more than other tasks. 54% of small businesses use
outsourced firms or contractors for graphic design and web design. 44%
outsource their tax preparation. Now, as a marketing freelancer guy as I am–I could
see the need for that. You can you know. That’s that’s part of my pitch as to save you
money by not going to a 20 member marketing firm. Where you don’t need a whole lot.
You just need specifics. ala cart so to speak. You know, I just need social media
yes I could use some video graphic or animated video or some podcasting or
whatever. That’s one reason I targeted some of those because I felt there was a real need
for that for small business owners. To have some options in addition to the larger firms.
But again,that the outsourcing–yes it can save you money, just make sure it covers what
you need. Because you want to include a good web designer to include your phone
number in your email. Top 15 challenges small business owners faced questionnaire
done a year a little over a year ago. We’ll see you next week. John Verlin is my name
On Demand Advertising Solutions.com is the website. Have a great day and we’ll talk
to you next week!
All podcasts are recorded by Verlin Studios / Gardner, Kansas
Copyright, John D. Verlin 2017