Starting a business can be difficult. Even with an exceptional business plan and the necessary capital you would need, it is sometimes difficult to create a strong and sustaining business. We asked a few entrepreneurs and business owners what their biggest hurdle was when starting their business.
When I bought my company, I bootstrapped the entire purchase. I quickly learned what it was like to run a lean business and it is not easy. When you bootstrap, sacrifices are made on everything from cutting back staff to penny pinching your personal spending habits. It’s difficult to do, but it’s also inspiring. When business begins to pick up, you can step back and marvel at what you’ve done. You made it through and now you appreciate your business, team, and success even more because of it.
Thanks to Deborah Sweeney, MyCorporation.com!
#2- Earning trust from buyers
A common issue that many ecommerce businesses encounter as they get their feet off the ground is earning the trust of the buyers. Especially with high value items, customers want to know that what they are buying is authentic and who they are buying from is trustworthy. This rings especially true for an online luxury retailer. When we first launched BeckerTime.com, buying luxury items online was not the norm. We had to go out of our way to prove ourselves to our buyers and build strong relationships with them.
Thanks to Matt Becker, BeckerTime!
Our biggest hurdle in business has been manufacturing. Our product is manufactured in China and it has been proven through our experience that you cannot trust the quality of the product no matter how long your relationship with a manufacture is. Always have an outside source check your product before it ships! Also when manufacturing in China, always plan ahead. Manufacturers rarely make their shipping deadlines and products are almost always late. One more important tip, make sure you have a good import agent! This can get you into a tough spot if they don't do a good job and your product sits in a warehouse just racking up storage fees or if they don't fill out the import paperwork correctly and your product is not accepted and you receive a hefty fine.
Thanks to Chris Gronkowski, Everything Decorated!
#4- Attracting clientele
When I started my company, CashForPurses.com, one of the biggest difficulties was attracting the clientele needed to produce the numbers I sought after. Thanks to my background in marketing, I solved this with one big action-step. While the press was going off the wall about Lindsey Lohan owing the IRS a over $250,000 in taxes, she was also rumored to have over that amount in handbags. I took advantage of this by newsjacking the story, advertising that I would buy all her bags and personally match her contribution to a charity. In the months following, I received over 8,000 orders to buy handbags, jump starting my business into what it is today.
Thanks to Trent Silver, StickerDoo!
#5- Finding the right clients
My biggest hurdle was finding the right clients. Getting a lot of clients was not difficult. But just taking on any and all clients, I ended end up with a lot of clients that were not a good fit my business. Clients that waste your time, have unrealistic expectations, or fail to pay on time can be a drag on business growth. Only after I found a way to filter my clients through an interview and discovery process, did my business start to take off and grow. Saying no to a client is one of the hardest things you will ever do. But making time for the right clients will grow your business.
Thanks to Bradley Shaw, SEO Expert Brad!
#6- Hiring and firing myself
My biggest business hurdle was hiring and firing myself! When you first start out you want to do everything to save money! However you can not. I started to read business book on the subject and i first analyzed how much my time is worth so i delegated everything that was under my worth per hour. So broken ac, computer, cleaning, book keeping, etc… Start small then go big as you grow.
Thanks to Daniel Nyiri, 4U Fitness!
#7- Finding balance
It’s easy to get sucked into the daily work routine and fail to maintain a healthy work life balance. At one point I found myself in 100-hour weeks, long weekends and sleepless nights, leaving me little room for anything else in life. I have been working to strike a balance, but I admit, it is challenging and a constant struggle.
Thanks to Joanna Douglas, Clean Affinity Cleaning Service!
#8- Scaling my business in early stages
One of the biggest hurdles I’ve experienced was how to scale my business in the early stages. Having proof of concept enabled me to get investors for my company. I was a contestant on ABC’s Shark Tank where I received deals from Mark Cuban and Daymond John, who have been a tremendous support system in helping me scale my business over the past couple years. Since then, our sales have gone through the roof, and we’ve been able to acquire a larger warehouse for our products.
Thanks to Brandon Chopp, iHeartRaves!
Being an entrepreneur, I feel that the biggest business hurdle has often been myself. To achieve any goal, or change any aspect of your life, you have to first win the mental struggle; it all starts within your mind! You can be your own worst enemy when it comes to making a change as big as becoming an entrepreneur, particularly if you’re transitioning from being an employee. Doubting your worth and ability to make such an important life change may happen at first, but you must push it aside! What worked for me was realizing that working a job and being an entrepreneur are not easy. Being that both are difficult, I had to decide which path to take, and I chose to take the path of being an entrepreneur. It also helps if you put things into perspective; running a business is just like running a job, except on a larger scale, and you should remember that you are directly responsible for your revenue! Another thing that came in handy was surrounding myself with like minded people who could hold me accountable and keep me focused. Put things into perspective, and surround yourself with those in similar situations that want to succeed, and you’ll be well on your way towards being a successful entrepreneur!
Thanks to Dawniel Patterson Winningham!
#10- Getting potential employees share your vision
The biggest hurdle (especially when starting out) is getting potential employees to buy in to what you see as the future success. This is especially difficult considering I started my business during the economic downturn of early 2008 and I needed sales and marketing professionals to commit while taking an average salary and benefits package. Where I was able to make up the gap was creating a casual culture and offering things like: Free Lunch Friday, Casual Dress every day and gift cards/tickets as incentives. Almost 10 years later, we're still using some of these tactics to keep employees engaged and motivated.
Thanks to Dani Gurrie, Tots2Tweens!
#11- Raising Capital
As a younger entrepreneur who started my business a year after graduating college, it has been especially tough to keep up with growth. Banks required 2 years of tax returns, I didn't have much savings, and even a lot of non-profit small business support organizations required collateral. On top of that, I have a product-based business in the grocery space, which is extremely capital intensive. The way I overcame this challenge was finding various angel investors. I learned how to build several narratives that combined our current business, prospective business, financials, and exit strategy into small pitches – informative but not overwhelming. I also had to actually find these angel investors, which took joining various online platforms, communities, and reaching out to long lost friends, family, etc. The angel investors were critical in acting as a bridge fund in gaining new business, starting the relationships with financial institutions and non-profit organizations, and opening doors with institutional investors.
Thanks to Lawrence Wu, WUJU Hot Sauce!