As a small business owner, you have a lot on your plate--including finances, marketing, sales, hiring, and finding a workspace. Running into a roadblock can turn an already difficult journey into a nightmare. After all, roadblocks can be the difference between success and closing up shop--at least they can be if you're not prepared for them.

With just one-third of businesses lasting 10 years or longer, it can be daunting to consider all of the barriers you'll have to overcome. But when you do anticipate potential problems, you'll be able to resolve them and move on, rather than allowing your business to come to a standstill as you figure out your next steps.

When you come across a roadblock while driving, there's usually a detour sign nearby--and when there isn't, you can usually find a side street that will lead you around the obstruction. In business, you can do the same, but you have to know what to look for. Consider these three common roadblocks as you build your business so that you can find the best route to success:​​​


Roadblock 1: You're not getting the results you want.

It's tempting to make decisions on the spot--especially when so many things demand your attention--but that can lead to poor results. In fact, the rush to get to "results" is often the crux of the problem. "Practice focusing on the process of making decisions instead of worrying about the infinite outcomes beyond your control, advises James Moran, managing partner of ValueStreet Equity Partners. "This frees up time and energy for creativity, deep thinking, and collaboration, which will help you get the results you dream about."

There are a number of decision-making techniques that can help you focus on the process of decision-making rather than the outcomes. If the outcome of one of your decisions is negative, go back and revamp your process to get better results next time. If an outcome is positive, concentrate on what part of the process helped achieve that result rather than just celebrating a job well done and moving on. This very idea is what has helped Warren Buffett achieve success as an investor. He's even told his shareholders, "We enjoy the process far more than the proceeds."

Roadblock 2: You're stretched too thin.

Small businesses are just that: small. That means you're likely wearing more than one hat, and that can lead you to feel exhausted. As a leader, you're probably tempted to do everything on your own, but the old adage "If you want something done right, do it yourself" is a lie. By keeping all the tasks to yourself, you're only going to slow your business down rather than enable it to progress. So consider which tasks you can delegate to another team member or to a freelancer. If you don't know where to start, turn to platforms like Upwork and Toptal to find people who can help.

Freelancers are businesspeople, so remember to treat them as such. Be available when they have questions, hold meetings when necessary (and at mutually convenient times), and acknowledge their expertise. Developing respectful relationships with freelancers will help you expand as a company while also making connections with individuals who could turn into full-time employees or steady resources. When you turn over some of your tasks to a freelancer--especially those in which you don't have as much experience or expertise--you free yourself up to concentrate on responsibilities that are crucial to getting your company to its next mark of success.

Roadblock 3: Lack of customers.

Every business sees the number of its customers ebb and flow. But if you're habitually seeing that too few customers are taking notice of your offerings, it's time to take action. To overcome this roadblock, you need a true understanding of why and how your customers make purchase decisions so you can better appeal to them.

If you're selling to other small business owners, for example, you should know that they need as much information as possible before purchasing. Just like you, they have to make smart decisions about spending their limited funds, so provide them with educational blogs, whitepapers, and email drip campaigns so they don't have to go digging for more information--or looking to your competitors to provide it. Business owners also need to know that your product or service will provide the value they seek even if it's not the lowest-cost option, so focus on proving ROI. And don't just make them take your word for it--a little social proof (Google reviews, client case studies, etc.) will go a long way toward getting these customers through the door.

Running into roadblocks can set any small business owner back, but they don't have to stop you for long. When you identify the best detours for getting around them, you'll be on your way in no time.

Published on: May 7, 2019
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