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The UPS Store Small Business blog
  • 19 July 2021
  • Leo Covey

Conquering the Top 3 Challenges Facing Small Business Owners Today

Businesses are getting back on track and the economy is holding strong. So smooth sailing ahead, right? As you can probably guess, even with these good things happening, being a small business owner today comes with a set of new challenges to overcome. From hiring, budgeting, and keeping employees safe, perhaps you’re dealing with some or all of these common challenges. Consider some of these solutions to help you keep your motivation in check.

a man on a laptop

Small Business Challenge #1: Sourcing and hiring qualified employees
LinkedIn statistics show a hiring boom that’s 158.4% higher in May 2021 compared to May 2020. This bodes well if you are searching for a job, but as a small business owner, it means that finding and hiring talented people just got a lot more competitive. If you have open positions on your team, here are a couple of tips to land your next employees.

  • The benefits of remote work. The pandemic taught many businesses that remote work is indeed possible. And many employees will be reluctant to return to the office full time now that they have grown accustomed to blending their home and professional lives. If you can sustain a remote-work employee, rather than view this dynamic as another small business challenge, consider the benefits. Your hiring pool just went national, and you can perhaps source employees anywhere in the country — even in places with a lower cost of living and lower salary requirements.
  • Perks and paydays. If you are considering a new hire who is currently employed elsewhere, it may require an extra sign of good faith to lure them away from the security of their current situation. Consider offering a signing bonus and/or a cash incentive awarded after a certain tenure of employment.
  • Secure your star employees. Finally, assume that your best employees are at least curious about the job market. Do what it takes to keep them secure and satisfied, be it a spot bonus or a well-deserved promotion. Even a modest bump in payroll is better than the challenges and high costs of recruiting, hiring and training a new employee.

Small Business Challenge #2: Dealing with inflation
Two out of every three small business owners are worried that inflation will dampen their economic recovery. The rising cost of supplies and increased salary demands of employees are going to challenge small business owners in the near term, squeezing bottom lines, profitability, and potential for growth. There are a range of strategies you can explore to help mitigate the effects of these inflationary-based challenges.

  • Buy in bulk. If possible, buy supplies in bulk, especially if there is a discount. Locking in a bulk purchase can protect you from future price increases. Also consider bundling supply purchases with other small businesses in your network.
  • Research supply costs. Take the time to research your vendors to make sure you are getting the most competitive prices. It may be time to make a switch if you see savings out there. If you work in an industry with seasonal rate variances in your supply chain, plan your purchases during the part of the year when you get the best prices.
  • Find positive ways to pass along costs. If you have to increase prices, do it in a way that makes customers feel good about the purchase. Invest in the quality of your products and services, and make sure they are well differentiated from the competition. Be transparent and compassionate with your customers about why these price increases are taking place. They will be more likely to accept them once they understand the challenges you are facing.

Small Business Challenge #3: Health, wellness and safety
Every other small business challenge pales in comparison to keeping your employees and customers healthy and safe. With vaccinations on the rise and COVID-19 statistics on the decline, you may be inclined to revert to “business as usual.” But with a variety of employee and customer expectations to juggle, plus certain aftershocks of 2020 still lingering, it may still be beneficial for your small business to proceed with the welfare of others top of mind.

  • Get the right guidance. Continue to follow local, state and federal guidelines for the latest recommendations and best practices when it comes to workplace safety.
  • Keep messaging on point. Communicate your safety protocols on business entrances and throughout your business. If your signs have been up for the past year, consider refreshing them for clarity and an aesthetic boost for your small business.
  • Manage workplace stress. Have honest, open-minded and compassionate conversations with your employees about their state of mind. Many people are still dealing with the lingering effects of the pandemic, social distancing and quarantine life. And the majority of workers are still feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Think about ways you can ease their burden — be it with a little extra PTO or with wellness events hosted at your small business.

Especially during challenging times, let your local The UPS Store center help you free up time to focus on maintaining and growing your business. From shipping and shredding to designing and printing, our associates can help you discover a centralized and cost-effective way to manage some of your most frequent everyday costs and challenges so you can focus on what matters most for your business.

Want to learn more from fellow business owners? Join Inc. and The UPS Store Thursday, July 29, for our Small Biz Challenge: Virtual Studio Event with chef, author, and TV host Carla Hall to see five entrepreneurs compete to win $25,000 for their business and an editorial feature in an upcoming issue of Inc. magazine. RSVP today and attend this event for a chance to win two $100 Amazon gift cards!

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