As a small business owner, there are a number of common issues that you’ll inevitably find yourself having to deal with, regardless of whether you’re a brand new startup, or on your way to rapid growth. To succeed, it’s crucial that you avoid the big mistakes and have a plan of action for the smaller, more common ones. 

We all know that knowledge is power. Having an idea of what these common problems are can help prevent them from stressing you out and negatively impacting your success. Below, I’ve rounded up four of the most frequently experienced challenges that come with owning a small business, along with some expert advice on how to get through them unscathed.

Motivating Employees

You may eat, sleep, and breathe your business, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your employees will share that same deep-seated passion. People are driven by different things, which can further complicate matters. What might ignite a spark within one individual may not work for another, and vice versa. The secret to keeping your team plugged in and chugging toward your goals is to figure out what motivates each of them and then customize your approach accordingly. Perhaps an incentive program is all you need to boost motivation

Don’t be afraid to ask them how they’re doing and if they’re feeling fulfilled and driven by their work. This can give you a good read of how to further engage and motivate them, or determine if they just may not be a fit for your company. 

Dealing with Disgruntled Customers

No matter how hard you try, you simply cannot please everyone all of the time. If it hasn’t happened yet, know that there will come a time when you will find yourself trying to please a less-than-satisfied customer. And for small business owners, there’s a good chance that escalations up the ladder will ultimately end with you, so you’ll need to be prepared. 

The best piece of advice I can provide for dealing with complaints is to practice empathy. Ask. Listen. Then, do your best to fix the issue. If nothing else, at least show you care. Providing attention and showing a desire to right the wrong, while it may not totally solve the issue, can definitely help you retain those customers or avoid a negative review. 

Battling the Competition

From time to time, most small business owners have had a prospective client choose another company over them – often because the competitor is more well-known. The fact is, there’s always going to be someone else to measure yourself against. If you’re feeling discouraged or disappointed because you think you’re not as good as some other company, stop. Take a breath, and focus your energy on the customers who will not only choose you but will remain fiercely loyal because your product or service is great. 

Struggles with competition can easily lead to burnout. To combat that, remember why you started your business in the first place. That passion will get you through the tough moments of rejection that you’re sure to experience while growing your business. 

Poor or Non-Existent Culture

Search “company culture” online, and you’ll find pages upon pages of insight as to why it’s so important and how you can make yours the best. But who’s got the time and resources to pour over dozens of articles? You’ve got a business to run. So, to save you time, consider this critical piece of advice: lead by example. If you want your employees to be positive and supportive of one another, you need to demonstrate those qualities in everything you do. Oh, and one other tip: hire people who will fit with your desired culture right from the start. You can always train for skills, but you can’t train for character.

It also doesn’t hurt to look at your office space to make sure it creates the environment you want it to. Do you offer in-office perks, like snacks and coffee, that your employees appreciate? Are the employee benefits right for your team? Culture isn’t just about the kinds of people you bring on board. It’s also about the value you place on your employees, which can be shown in the various things you provide them with.

Running a successful business is not without its challenges. The four listed above may be among the most common, but they’re also completely overcome-able, provided you take a proactive, strategic approach. Do so, and you’ll position your brand for a healthier, more secure future.