Challenges, stressors small business face

There will always be challenges to face.

Challenges and stressors always present right and wrong ways to go forward

There are right ways and wrong ways to approach your future challenges. Doing nothing is not an option as the struggles will continue. Starting and running a business is a significant achievement. However, maintaining profitable growth and sustainability is a more substantial challenge.

There are many challenges, and stressors face every business, whether they are large or small. You have chosen the difficulties with the most significant impact to address in this post. Overcome your limiting beliefs by prioritising the suggestions in this post and start to action them.

Every business has challenges

There will always be challenges and things which are stressful; different people have different problems.

After 50 years, the following vital things have materialised and survived the test of time and are still crucial for modern business, non-profit or community. In my experience, it is impossible to address all the issues and challenges you need to, in a short period.

There are more issues which will impact your business. However, the ones listed here will have the most significant impact on the challenges you will face and therefore, should be high on your priority list.

These are challenges, but not death sentences. One of the worst things a start-up can do is to go into business without considering the challenges ahead. You’ve looked at some things that can help make these challenges more manageable, but there is no avoiding them. An essential step in overcoming a problem is knowing the size of that challenge and how to deal with it.

Focus on a lifestyle business. The sooner you match the lifestyle you want with your business interests, the sooner you remove many challenges and stressors.

Health and well-being is arguably one of the biggest challenges

Far too many business people think they are invincible and will live forever. While many are risk-averse, they still make mistakes and ignore their health.

Stress and fatigue only add to your burden

The hours, the work and the constant pressure to perform can test even the most passionate individuals. Most business owners, even successful ones, suffer from stress and fatigue from overwork. Most work much longer hours than their employees. Often it’s because they fear that their business will stall in their absence. They avoid taking any long breaks away from work to recharge; their work/life balance is out of whack.

When fatigue sets in, the weariness of the long hours and the variable results can lead to rash decisions about the business, including the desire to abandon it altogether. Finding a pace that keeps the business humming without grinding you down is a challenge that comes early (and often) in the evolution of any business.

There is a right way and a wrong way

If you are lost and confused, why not reassess your work/life balance.

Working hours and your work/life balance are critical to both your health and the outcomes you want to achieve. I always thought that the harder I worked, the more successful I would be and the luckier I would become. It is only right to a point, simply because if your health is not right, or are on the wrong track or using the wrong strategies. You will never get where you want to go. Stress and ill health will continue to follow you.

Stress and Eustress

Most people understand the negative side of stress, correctly referred to as distress (dis=bad). Only a few, however, are aware of the positive pressure, namely Eustress (eu=good).

The degree of stress which any stressor will cause is dependent on:

  1. The degree to which the stressor is present. In other words, the more of the stressor, the higher the stress it produces. So, for example, if a small headache causes some anxiety, a massive headache will cause more stress. If a little argument causes a small amount of stress, a big argument will cause even more stress.
  2. How the stressor is perceived (different people will view stressors differently). As a result, one stressor might produce distress in one person and eustress in another.

Much of the skill involved in dealing with stress comes down to weighing up the gains and losses. If the benefits from attending to the situational encounter outweigh the losses, then the outcome is eustress. On the other hand, if the losses exceed the gains, then distress is a likely result. It could be viewed as risk management or cost-benefit analysis. Nevertheless, sometimes there is no escaping loss, threat or harm, and learning to cope is required.

A stressor is any event or condition that initiates a stress reaction. There are many kinds of stressors: from burnt toast to a negative bank manager. Here are a few of the stressors in business

The frustrations or stressors you can be having in business

  • Low belief levels in what you do
  • On a treadmill, day in and day out
  • Undue family and other relationship pressures
  • Financial problems
  • Sales declines, or expectations in performance not met.
  • Disappointment in you and your business and community
  • Being surrounded by negative people and negative influences
  • Poor or no direction, focus and lack of action
  • You have caught the procrastination disease
  • Not knowing what it takes to succeed
  • Frustrated with the painfully slow progress in trying to build a profitable business?
  • Overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done
  • Just plain exhausted from trying to juggle too many projects
  • Chronic health issues
  • Can’t adapt to all the change taking place
  • Competitive issues
  • Working long hours with no rest and recreation
  • Peace of mind is only a dream.

The first step in any stress management or emotional wellbeing plan should be to eliminate unnecessary stressors in your life.

Although a relatively simple concept, this action may require significant environmental interventions for some. If you need to manage your time better, do so. If you need to develop a better social support network or get out of a destructive relationship, then go for it.

Lifestyle challenges can and should be overcome

The concept of work and life being two separate things has gone. Today all aspects of life are blending into one. It is harmony,  not work/life balance everyone should be striving to achieve. A work/life balance seems to come automatically when all aspects of your life are working in harmony.

Lifestyle choices

You always have a choice. Accept your current situation, or accept the responsibility to make the necessary changes. What is the time to make the changes to living the lifestyle you have always dreamed of having? It’s never too late for you to become the person you’ve always wanted to be and live the lifestyle you seek to enjoy. Start unleashing your creativity and become action orientated.

When will your dreams and talents be realised and your aspirations fully unleashed? Do you think your desired lifestyle will materialise without actions of boldness and courage? So, trash your current thinking and get on board with the new normal with a modern mobile workplace environment and live the lifestyle you crave.


Stability doesn’t always come easy, to find it you might have to risk it. Personal stability is a lifestyle characterised by appropriate and well-thought-out decisions, consistent behaviour and happy disposition. It’s often overlooked, yet it’s a key component of success and well-being. Stable people tend to have long, satisfying relationships. They do well in their jobs and businesses. Their lives are relatively free from unnecessary drama, and they make the right decisions regarding their health and finances.


Often people become concerned with being able to make sufficient money to sustain them at a level to which they have been accustomed. Overcome this by becoming more financially savvy and make an effort to create a good business model, business plan and budget, Don’t spend more money than you bring in. If you’re in debt, pay it off as quickly as possible. Cut up your credit cards; you can do without expensive credit.

Community engagement

Isolation and loneliness can be a big challenge. Most people like people and to be involved with them outside of the business. Most successful companies become involved in community activities and support local charities and community service organisations. It’s suitable for the people they support, and it is right for them.

Community challenges tend to dissolve when people come together to unravel them. Some find it challenging to make new friends if the lifestyle change means a new community. Healthy communities don’t happen by themselves, so learning to become involved is essential.

Family becoming frustrated

When a lifestyle change is about to take place, the family can become disorientated and disappointed if it is not what they expected. Whenever you make a lifestyle change, thoroughly discuss what is involved and take your family on the journey with you, it can be too late once you have committed without them.

Systems and processes

A big challenge for many starting a lifestyle business finds they no longer have the resources they were used to having. They now have to do more mundane jobs themselves; they no longer have the people or great technology to which they had been accustomed. Seek advice, technology and communications have never been cheaper or more comfortable to use.

Adjust to a new pace of life

Some make the lifestyle change and within a short time find that the slower pace of life is not what they are looking for; they miss the hustle and bustle. Face reality and stay energised. Lean into the tough challenges instead of pulling away. Pulling away is usually your instinct when the going gets tough, just as you pull away from pain.

Challenges can and must be overcome

It’s truly fascinating how successful people approach their challenges and stressors. What many see as impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to embrace, stressors to be removed, and obstacles to overcome. Their confidence in the face of difficulty is driven by their ability to let go of the negativity that holds so many otherwise sensible people back.

Successful people know that caring about what other people think is a waste of time and energy and quickly end bad relationships. When they feel good about what they are doing, they don’t let anyone’s opinions take it away from them. No matter what other people think of you, one thing is sure; you’re never as good or as bad as they say you are. Your mindset drives your success. With discipline and focus, you can ensure that challenges and stressors never hold you back from reaching your ambitions.

Don’t give into challenges and stressors you really can do something. Like most people, you have more strengths then you realise, you have to focus and work on them. It is better to face your fears now and enjoy the reward than to give up on your dreams and let your struggles continue.

Learn about entrepreneurial attributes

When I learned that I was ‘classic’ entrepreneurship, I started to understand myself. I started doing what entrepreneurs do best but doing it on purpose. Starting a business can present more challenges and stressors than most people can cope. You have to be able to live with uncertainty and push through barriers until you hit smooth waters, and life becomes more manageable. It can take years to learn how to run a business well, but you will find the attributes of entrepreneurs will calm the waters and do it more quickly.


The old saying “if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail”, is still alive and well today. However, the way you go about it has changed enormously over the last few years. Without sound objectives, strategies and actions, progress is painfully slow. You continue doing the same old things and putting up with the same old problems and frustrations. Your plans show the approach which will be used to deliver the outcomes you want.

There are well-known strategies you can use to make your business deliver the outcomes you want, wishing and hoping is not one of them. One of the keys to success is having a good enough plan, which helps you to control all aspects of your business. Every time I refocus my vision, I had a surge in performance.

Where do your interests lie, and what are your passions? If you don’t understand the ‘why’, the ‘why’ you do what you do, how do you expect to get to where you want to go. If you then fail to focus on your customer’s problems, frustrations want and need, don’t expect to achieve the outcomes you want. Less is more, so only work on what is essential to achieve your goals.

Values are the glue in any organisation

Values are critical and should be your #1 guide in planning your future direction, as well as day-to-day activities. It took me years to understand why others didn’t have the same values as I did and how incongruent values cause eventual breakdowns in relationships and even organisations.

Conquer your fears before they conquer you

Fear is nothing more than a lingering emotion that’s fueled by your imagination. Danger, on the other hand, is real. Fear will always be there when you put yourself out of your comfort zone, and that isn’t bad as it means you’re at last making real progress. Fear is essential; it is your survival signal and what has kept you active and thinking about your future.

Making mistakes and getting things wrong

I have experienced the frustrations and trauma of getting things wrong. You feel so stupid. But, when I analysed it, I can see where I went wrong. Usually, it was because I did not put enough time into thinking things through, or I went against my better judgement, or I acted on bad advice.

Of course, I learned that I was not the only one to ever get things wrong; it is a natural part of having a go. It is from your mistakes that you learn the most. Show me someone who has not made a bad mistake, and I will show you a non-achiever. They have usually done very little with their life.

The lows make you appreciate the highs. Doing things faster, better and cheaper than anyone else usually, leads to a tired person ageing quickly. In the early days, I was too busy to document my best strategies as I went along. I kept inventing new ones instead of refining what worked.

Trust is what good relationships are built on

If there is no love, there is no trust. If there is no trust, then productivity will always be low and mistakes made. Most of the time, you probably accept the thoughts that bombard your mind every day as the truth, and worse, you act on them. Your ideas come from your beliefs, and your views about the world were formed with your family, friends, and other influences in your life. You have to develop feelings and trust, which will support you well. If you don’t challenge your thoughts and instead accept them as the truth, you are setting yourself up for some difficult challenges.

You have to develop beliefs and trust that will support you well. If you don’t challenge your thoughts and accept them all as the truth, you are setting yourself up for some difficult challenges. If customers do not trust you or your organisation, don’t expect them to deal with you.

Attract and retain a quality workforce

Success depends on having the best talent in place for now and for the future. It can be an essential competitive advantage. But, it means looking at the quality, not the quantity, in your current and future people.

It is crucial to create a workplace that attracts, retains and engages employees and contractors no matter what the economy is doing. Talented and skilled people are always in demand. The more skill and talent they possess, the more likely they will leave you for another business. You should not only be concerned about retaining good employees but also focus on creating an environment that makes them as productive as possible.

Today good employees are demanding a flexible working environment. They want to work from their home, the beach or the customers’ premises and work at any time of the day or night. Technology and communications make this possible as businesses become more and more virtual. Happy families lead to more satisfied employees, and it is the mobility that makes the work/life balance practical and affordable.

Analytics provides a basis for improving decision-making

You need to know what is going right and just as importantly, what is going wrong, to uncover ideas and opportunities.  Ideas and opportunities for both your customers and your business. The ‘Business Health Check’ and the old SWOT analysis are essential tools. The SWOT analysis was one of the very first tools I learned about, and today is still one of the most useful analytical tools.

Metrics give you a choice. To find out what is going on or to keep in touch with what is happening in the marketplace. If you are closing your eyes to reality, a good set of metrics can help you to open them and respond more decisively.

A choice framework can move you to a new level of operations

It may be necessary to re-position your business to accommodate the many changes that are happening. The way you do business today and into the future will be vastly different. How you have done business in the past, could well be bound up in poor choices.

The following model gives you four distinct choices. Zero repositionings should in almost all cases, not be one of them.

  1. Creative Repositioning – Something different, opportunities not yet acted upon
  1. Gradual Repositioning – Planned, continuous adaptation to the environment
  1. Radical Repositioning – A discontinuous shift to a new position, which has hidden dangers
  1. Zero Repositioning – Maintain an unchanged face to the market and be at its mercy

Avoiding dependence or risk the business

For many businesses, especially those with a small number of employees, client dependence and supplier dependence can cause enormous challenges. If a company depends on a single customer, or supplier for more than half its income, that should immediately raise a red flag. If that’s the case, the business is reliant on the one client or supplier to stay operational and profitable. Diversifying your client and supplier base needs to be a priority if growth and stability are also goals.

Modern marketing needs to be a top priority

Marketing is changing fast, and business will be wise to consider these changes as they plan for their future. First, there will be a need to be increasingly skilled in the use of technology and marketing platforms.  The creative side of marketing is critically important in developing smart marketing campaigns that work.

Smaller businesses have more potential for success than ever. The more significant achievements will go to companies which have a flexible and effective online strategy. A strategy which can rapidly respond to changing requirements of decerning customers. Social media is causing more and more people to get their recommendations from others online. Businesses that have a significant online presence will be at the forefront of lead generation. Marketing will increasingly involve things like the following:

The sooner you act, the sooner you will overcome modern marketing challenges

  • Being found in a globally competitive marketplace is critical
  • The customer experience must be exciting when prospects find you
  • The importance of your website should not be underestimated
  • Social media will be playing an increasing role in marketing
  • Content marketing is leading most marketing efforts today
  • Competitive advantages are essential to any competitive business
  • You will be looking at marketing platforms sooner than later
  • Global competition seems to come from nowhere
  • Speed to market should not be overlooked

Many companies go international from birth. Today this is not an after-thought as more and more businesses are seeking the opportunities in the global marketplace to expand their businesses.

It is being facilitated by all the new technologies and communication platforms becoming available.

What is having the most significant impact on smaller businesses is the ability to scale very quickly by using technology. Smaller enterprises used to be thought of as local mom-and-pop shops. But now it is possible for a small business to be at the centre of the world, selling its products worldwide overnight. Smaller companies can partake in the digital revolution and expand their business more readily than larger competitors. By partnering, they can sell their products worldwide using online business partners, without having to figure out the logistics and making significant capital investments.

Action orientation

Finishers are winners. Making sound business decisions is essential, but making sure those decisions are implemented is also critical to your success. If you are action-oriented, you’re the type of person who gets things done, whether on your own or through other people.

You make good on your commitments, and you make sure that other people do as well. Whatever you need to do, you follow through on it, and procrastination is something you have put behind you. You close each meeting by getting the people involved to clarify who’s responsible for implementing which tasks, as well as when the tasks should be completed.

Clarify accountability, making sure each person understands precisely, what action steps they are responsible for, and by when. Ambiguity is the enemy of executing against any business plan. However, a certain amount of latitude and flexibility should be allowed. If there is one thing people don’t like, it’s being micro-managed. Allocate the tasks and let people decide how they will carry them out. It alone will significantly reduce your challenges and stressors.

Outsourcing could be a matter of life or death

You may think that outsourcing marketing services are a waste of time, or a waste of money, or both. However, the reality is that your failure to diversify your business by outsourcing could be limiting your earning potential along with your capacity to compete. Outsourcing could hold the key to increased revenues and profits, along with a more stable business.

Service providers hold the key to your outsourcing success in the digital marketplace. As businesses move to become more digital, opportunities are arising for service providers to play a crucial role. No longer can you know all there is to know about your business, its product mix and the marketplace? It is why smart companies are outsourcing everything that is not their core business, and they are enjoying a more stress-free business.

If you are concentrating on the day-to-day activities, the ones you should be outsourcing, you can look forward to slow-to-no growth. If you are trying to do it all because you don’t want to pay someone else to do something you can do, you are the problem in growing your dream business.

Something happens between the time you start, and the time you realise your profitable growth is hard to pin down. In many cases, people think they can ‘do it all’ wearing too many hats. If you want to stay in business today is the best day to delegate and start outsourcing.

Know your key numbers

Having enough cash to cover the bills is a must for any business, as it must be for every individual. Both your business and your life will emerge as a capital drain that challenges you to become more financially savvy, To meet the financial challenges, you must either be well capitalised or be able to pick up extra income to shore up your cash flow when needed.

Money management becomes even more critical when the business has a growth spurt. Although handling business accounting and taxes may be within the capabilities of some, professional help is usually a good idea.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of a business

When I first started in the agricultural machinery business, I immediately began making sales, but there was no cash in the bank when it came time to pay the bills. I had never heard of ‘cash flow’, never mind what to do about it.  Within a couple of months, I became desperate and sorted the advice of an advisor. Wow, what an eye-opener it was learning about cash flow management. Managing cash flow is often the most significant challenge most businesses and non-profits have and is one challenge that you must get on overcome.

Working capital

I still find it hard to understand why so many businesses think they have all the money they need to keep afloat and achieve their aspirations. Very few have a good understanding of what ‘working capital’ means, and they wonder why they never have any free cash, and they continue to struggle with the challenges.

Capital raising is often one of the biggest challenges

Many small businesses are interested in raising capital, increasingly turning their attention to crowdfunding. This new type of funding is gaining traction and understanding, as guidelines and new platforms are being created.

It pays to start small as you don’t require much capital. Capital is needed when you have learned how to run your business correctly, and at this time, it will be more readily available to you.

Risk management should be a concern

Supposing you are run over by a bus. Will your business still produce income the next day, week, month, or however long it takes for you to get back on your feet? A company that can’t operate without its owner or critical people is a business doomed to fail.

Many businesses suffer from founder dependence. This dependence is often caused by the founder being unable to let go of individual decisions and responsibilities as the business grows. In family businesses, the children often become frustrated and don’t want to be part of the family business. Meeting this challenge is easy in theory, but in practical terms, it starts with a well-conceived Succession Planning. It is a big challenge for many because it usually involves compromising, which many find hard to accept. Protecting your family, business and yourself should be a top priority,

Creativity and innovation can overcome the challenges

Change the conversations you have

Changing conversations is a simple thing to learn and understand, and what a huge difference it can make. Change the discussions, and you immediately start to change the situation you find yourself inv.

The cost of growth can be too high without innovation

Some people in business think growth is all that matters, making bigger and bigger profits. What they don’t realise is there is a cost involved. You have to keep learning new things as you have to look at your business differently each step of the way.  Don’t be one of those people who never seem to find time for the things that matter, finding real and sustainable solutions to their challenges and stressors.

It is often far better to direct your creativity and innovation towards improving your customer experience, and making your business more sustainable. If you want to grow, on what will you base your growth n? You will continue to see a split between those businesses positioned to take advantage of the significant trends and those that aren’t.

Don’t be slow to act on good ideas and opportunities

I have lost many excellent opportunities because I was too slow to respond. The speed of getting things done has always been critical.

Knowledge management should not be overlooked

You can’t know everything, but you can understand what you need. Every time I engaged with a facilitator or mentor, I had a surge in performance. I only had a handful of these people in my life, but what became crystal clear was that I had to manage the information and knowledge I was acquiring and needed to obtain. Learning and acquiring new information and knowledge is now more critical than ever. Most challenges and stressors come about because of a lack of knowledge and understanding.

Taking notes

How many times do you see people at seminars and other functions, not taking notes and thinking that they can remember it all? Well, I wasn’t that smart I had to take notes. Over the last 50 years, my notes have grown into a massive resource around the key things I was interested in, small businesses, non-profits and their communities.

  • Keeping a Journal. Write about your dreams and goals
  • Leverage the ideas and opportunities you have in your notes
  • Keep updating your knowledge base as new information comes to hand
  • Always have some index, or 3×5 cards in your pocket, never leaving an excellent idea to memory.


Thanks to all the people who have helped me along the way, including the people who wanted to stab me in the back. You can always learn something from a bad connection, even if it’s only to learn not to make the same mistake again. I have heard it said on many occasions that “you can’t know enough people”. Well, I believe that, but they must be the right people and people who will support you along your journey.

Play to your strengths, play where you can win

Make the lack of business and marketplace knowledge and the right experience, your biggest challenge.

  • What have you been given which you didn’t realise its value? Reassess what advice you are being offered.
  • How have you learned the best? Books, advisors, workshops, seminars and conferences, trade shows or from other businesses.
  • Know how vital a regular Business Health Check is and what to do about having them.
  • Most don’t know what they know  – big issue remembering what you don’t know.
  • Gone are the days when all the knowledge you needed was passed down from generation to generation.
  • Lack of work does not cause businesses to fail; it is more likely you don’t have the knowledge to do what is right to make things happen.
  • Learn how to leverage the information and knowledge you have.
  • Seek value in practical training and assistance.
  • Don’t stick rigidly to old beliefs.
  • Don’t think technical skills are all you need to run a business. Management skills are the other half.

Quotable quotes

“Don’t envy what people have, emulate what they did to have it”. Tim Fargo

“Many put too little time into their future success and just go ahead regardless”. Peter Sergeant.

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