As a small business owner, you know how stressful being your own boss can be. You are the managing director, the marketing manager, the advertising head honcho, the human resources recruiter amongst many other positions. You will work harder than you’ve ever worked before because this is your dream. You have turned what was once a hobby or passion into a money making business, and you will do your utmost to see it succeed. Sixty hour weeks are the norm, but you are doing something you love whether this is cooking up a feast of authentic Trinidadian cuisine up and down the country at street food festivals, using your creative flair to design bespoke wedding invitations or setting up a dynamic, new estate agency. You relish having the opportunity to make a living doing something you love. However, the world of small business is not all plain sailing. There will be times where your resolve is tested. Take a look at the scariest things that you, as a small business owner, will ever encounter.
A New Competitor
You are excelling in your field, your Facebook page is exponentially growing in its number of likes every day, your phone never stops ringing, and you are working flat out to fulfil orders. Life is good. Then you notice one day that the phone calls you are having with clients often mention the name of a new competitor. Your ears prick up, your hackles are raised, and you launch into defence mode, trying to convince your loyal customer why they should stay with you and not try out your cheaper competitor who has just burst onto the scene.
While the emergence of a new competitor can be daunting, it can also be a blessing in disguise. If you have a physical presence on the high street, having a rival open up shop just a few doors down can bring more potential customers into the area. If you have faith in your product and your service, ride out the storm of the new competitor’s arrival and keep your head down, working in the same way as you always have done to ensure continued success. As long as the high street is not flooded with similar businesses, you and your competitor can thrive side by side.
A small business relies heavily on its close knit team of staff. When one of these employees leave, it can have a detrimental effect on staff morale and productivity. If someone who has worked with you for the past decade decides to jump ship, this can be disorientating. This is a person who knows the intricacies of your ways of working, the customer base, the daily routines and the best way to clear the paper jam in the photocopier. It may seem like the world has ended when they leave, but it hasn’t. You and your business will need to adapt and move forward.
If the planets align one day and you find yourself losing a higher than normal percentage of your workforce at any one time, it may be wise to consider the employee experience and assess whether this is as positive as it could be. It could simply be bad timing, with maternity leaves, illness, and relocation contributing to a shift in the face of your employees. If you are replacing staff, ensure you interview rigorously and hire based on experience and references. If they laugh at your jokes, that’s even better.
HMRC Come Knocking
There is nothing worse than the prospect of a visit from HMRC. You may be adamant that the corporation tax has been paid, the VAT return has been filed, and your PAYE is all above board. Nevertheless, you may find yourself the subject of one of the many tax investigations that the HMRC carries out each year. It is essential, whether you suspect any wrongdoing or not, that you secure the services of a specialist tax advisor to guide you through the process of a tax dispute.
Any investigation of your business is stressful, and it’s important that you receive the appropriate support professionally and personally. Don’t keep the stresses of the enquiry bottled up and share your problems with a trusted friend. HMRC will be looking into every aspect of your business. Be honest and open and give them access to whatever documents they wish to see. You can get through the investigation, and your business can continue to be a success
If your business relies on premises that you lease, the prospect of a rent increase raises its ugly head annually. Usually, if you are a stable tenant, your landlord would be foolish to attempt to raise your rent only to see you call his bluff, move and secure an even better premises elsewhere at a more favourable rate. However, on occasion, landlords have been known to be unscrupulous when it comes to rate hikes especially in times of financial difficulty so be prepared for such an eventuality.
If the rent is going to be raised, you have three options. You can simply try and swallow the increase, pay up and continue leasing your premises. On the other hand, you could decide to tell your landlord politely that you believe the rent hike is too steep and that you shall be moving premises. Perhaps the most sensible option is to sit down with your landlord and negotiate. You may have been in the same premises for five or six years without seeing a rise in rent, so you appreciate now is the time to start paying a little more. It is how much more that is the sticking point. Coming to a fair agreement with your landlord regarding a new lease figure is vital to ensure continuity for your business.
Make sure that you counter any potentially scary situations that you may find your business in at some point in the future with common sense, a calm attitude and the help of professionals if they are required. You bravely took the plunge to follow your dream of working for yourself and transforming your idea into your livelihood. It’s important that you continue to see your business flourish.