Obstacles for women growing small business may be unseen.
A microbusiness as Wiki describes or microenterprise has the same meaning, though traditionally when referring to a small business financed by microcredit the term microenterprise is often used.
After all, you don’t know what you don’t know. This topic is dear to my heart and something I have seen over many years of trying to start a business from home with little or no support.
I would describe and share some of the more common obstacles I found and how I have dealt with them.
Awareness And Experience Of Business Support Services
Developing your business knowledge is key to sound business practice. Existing forms of knowledge are
- Research information describing your market, customer demographics and characteristics
- A list of resources to access supplies.
- Information about your products and possibly new products you can bring onto the market
- Understanding your employee’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Understanding your competitors. Who are your competitors? What are their products, , markets, and customers?
Understanding your market, supply channels, products, employees, and competitors is your business knowledge baseline. This information helps to plan and set goals. Without this information, you are using guesswork to make decisions in your day to day business.
How do you use this knowledge base? Our market information bases may include:
- Consumer awareness-learn the expectations of the clients and what they expect about you. You will build mutually advantageous information exchange partnerships with consumers by chatting to them regarding their potential desires and exploring ways you will improve your own goods or services and ensure you satisfy their expectations.
- Employee and supplier relationships — seek the views of the staff and suppliers — they would have their own perceptions about how you work. You may use structured polls to collect this information or call for more personal opinions.
- Business awareness-watch business innovations. How’s the competition doing? How much will they charge? Are there potential business entrants? Are major new goods launched?
- Business intelligence-growing external factors will influence the company. Developments in politics, culture, technology, community, and climate may all influence the success of your sector, so you need to keep updated.
- Professional societies and industrial organizations-their journals, scientific papers, policy documents, studies, industry, and technological magazines.
- Trade shows and seminars will offer a convenient way to find out what your peers are doing and see the new developments in your field.
Your work experience or lack thereof may cause a hindrance along the way. If you know that you are lacking in any one of these main skills you can work on developing this area of expertise.
Business development is all about communication with clients and their customers, from cold-calling prospects to maintaining long-term relationships to sharing information and ideas with colleagues and other stakeholders. That means that business developers must be able to speak and write clearly and confidently, as well as listen with an empathic and open mind so as to be able to address others’ needs and concerns.
- Oral Communication
- Written Communication
- Emotional Intelligence
- Active Listening
Part of business development is convincing other people to do certain things, such as offering assistance, lowering prices, or making investments. There are negative ways to influence people, but the more ethical and effective option is to learn the subtle art of finding common cause and earning trust. That requires prioritization, understanding, and above all, a tactful and genuine demeanor.
- Active Listening
- Problem Sensitivity
A big part of business development is a strategy. You have to be able to plan months, years, and decades ahead. Remember, one role of business development consultants is assessing the current strategy, looking for ways to improve it, and predicting issues down the road. A sound strategy depends on rational thought, a strong sense of priority, and the research skills necessary to understand the situation in depth.
- Analytical Ability
- Critical Thinking
- Decision Making
- Devising Strategic Plans to Expand Sales
- SWOT Analysis
While business development need not include IT support in this day and age, communication, research, and analysis all depend on using computers. Understanding basic programs, such as Microsoft Word, and knowing how to take full advantage of the program’s features, are essential. Poor computer literacy will leave a person less efficient and effective, and less likely to fulfill their potential. Additionally, if your computer skills are poor, your clients will suspect that you are not able to stay “with the times” in business.
- Customer Relationship Management
- Microsoft Office Suite
- Email Management
- Mobile phone
Business development requires not only understanding one’s own business, but also that of competitors and of the market as a whole. Part of gaining that understanding is simply researching and listening with an open mind, while another component is collecting and analyzing data. Knowing which market segments respond to what types of campaign, how large the market is, and whether the market is currently changing, will give you an advantage over competitors. That means understanding and staying current with statistics and trends.
More Business Development Skills
- Articulating Clearly
- Attention to Detail
- Client Relations
- Cold Calling
- Drafting Quotes for Projects
- Product Knowledge
- Problem Solving – refer Burden of Truth
- Taking Initiative
- Using Social Media Tools
- Working Independently
- Time Management
Challenges For Start-Up
Discussions with the women trying to start up business revealed gender-related issues such as limited mobility, societal expectations, practices, underpin many of the challenge’s highlights. These issues are coupled with a general lack of confidence. To overcome this hurdle it is important to seek out support people who can listen and understand difficulties you may experience. This may be a family member. For me, it was my grandfather. It may be a business networking group for example.
One of the biggest hurdles when setting up a micro-business for yourself is finding a way to support yourself in the process until money starts coming in with sales. For me, I was on the Carer’s pension and whilst it was hard to live on such a low income, it sustained me with food, paying bills, and unexpected costs. The pension paid for small bits of advertising on social media and that way I started to increase my sales.
Small businesses can’t survive if they don’t follow cash flow guidelines and this is probably one of the biggest problems that new entrepreneurs face. For example, you perform a job timely, raise the invoice, and get paid after a month. In the meantime, you’ve to bear all your business-related expenses like your infrastructural cost, your employee’s salary, and additionally, your personal expenses. And in case you don’t get paid at all, only some miracle can help you out.
Proper planning and budgeting are crucial for maintaining cash flow. One way to increase the cash flow by asking for a down payment whenever you receive an order. That way, you’ll be able to pay your expenses and that too while keeping some profit aside. Another way of increasing cash flow is by asking your clients for faster invoice payments.
Say, instead of 30 days you can ask your clients to clear your invoice after 15 days. That way, if the client is late on a payment, you’ll still have some time. The third way is a little uncommon and it entirely depends on your rapport with your own vendors. If you can manage to make your vendors agree to invoice you after 45, 60, or 90 days, you’ll have sufficient time to receive your payments and then clear their invoices.
Quitting Another Career
Most of the new entrepreneurs leave their regular jobs in the overwhelming joy of becoming self-independent. And that too with less than the amount in bank required for living at least a month or two even without any payment whatsoever. Money is something inevitable for living. So, quit your present job when you’ve at least the required amount for living a standard life as a financial cushion and have a robust business plan, or when you’re earning a standard amount from your new business endeavor.
Finding prospective customers. If your product/service adds value to people’s lives, you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money on advertising in the initial stages. If you have a great product/service, people will automatically come to you. Just remember to keep your patience and approach only those people who show interest in your product/service.
Time management is probably the biggest problem, especially for new entrepreneurs. In your own business, you’ve to take care of everything, unlike a regular job where you only have to take care of certain tasks. You’ve to enhance your time management skills. Following are some useful tips:
- Create goal lists: Make a lifetime goals list and break it down to annual, monthly, weekly, and daily goals. That way, your daily goal will be in front of you and you just have to be on track.
- Delegate jobs that don’t require your personal involvement. You can use secretarial services, graphic designers, and writers for example.
- Simply eliminate the unnecessary tasks.
- Assess yourself on a regular basis.
Choosing What to Sell
One of the biggest reasons for the failure of new entrepreneurs is the selection of the wrong niche. It’s very common that being a newcomer in the entrepreneurial world, you may not have adequate expertise to select a profitable niche. In that case, hire a freelance market researcher who will survey the related market e.g. the field you want to do business in, and prepare a report of profitable niches. You can then analyze the report and decide on your preferred niches.
Strategies for Market
You’re unaware of the best possible way to market the products/services. Your aim is to maximize your ROI with effective and targeted marketing. Again, it’s a useful idea to outsource the marketing part to another third party who has adequate expertise. Prepare a marketing budget and hand it over to them and they’ll chalk out an efficient marketing plan. Remember not to take the chance of experimentation at this stage. You can perform that later when you have a product baseline.
Self-Doubt and Decision Making
Every new entrepreneur goes through a phase where he/she starts lacking self-confidence and feels like quitting. It mainly happens due to initial failures and watching the growths that are lower than expected. Overcoming self-doubt is part of becoming a successful entrepreneur. Discuss the matters within your close circle who are aware of your goals. You may even seek the help of fellow entrepreneurs, some of whom will be ready to offer advice and show you ways to overcome the hurdles during this phase.
Whether you’re thinking of becoming an entrepreneur or have just entered the domain, be prepared for these challenges. To achieve success, plan strategically, explore the possible ways, bring in a great product or service to the market, and finally, do good business.
Enterprise Support and Women’s Business Associations.
Finding the right business support is important. Some groups may be great at networking no do not follow through with their promises. It is better to have 1 or 2 effective supports than to be in a group of 60 women who are not making a difference to your connections. This is a personal opinion of course. I have found some of my friends who run their own business love going to a large business networking event. I on the other hand find it ineffective and have 2 business mentors.
Look around in the area where you live and try out different groups without committing to the group until you find what fits for you.
This article has covered those barriers and obstacles women may face when growing a microbusiness. These obstacles include gaining a basic understanding of business practices, finding information on the chosen niche, time management, managing poor self-confidence, leaving another job, and finding support systems or people to help you manage your business without taking on extra business costs.