As many as 75% of all businesses are sole proprietorships - just the entrepreneur and her vision taking on the world. Some pursue small business ownership because big businesses aren’t hiring; others were born to be their own boss. Either way, it seems like self-staters are enjoying a kind of heyday with bestsellers like The Four-Hour Work Week and The $100 Startup fanning the entrepreneurial flames.
The appeal is easy enough to see: freedom, flexibility and financial opportunity. In reality, success in small business is no small feat.
We took a look at three of the top challenges small businesses face and asked if there wasn’t one solution to them all. There is.
1. The Jack of all Trades Necessity.
Job duties are often not clearly defined when you’re boot strapping a small business. By necessity, owners are forced to wear many hats. One minute you’re the CEO and founder, the next you might be the receptionist, accountant or even the janitor. In fact, one recent small business survey reported that 53 percent of small business owners found covering multiple jobs the most difficult part of owning and managing a small business. It’s no wonder - 30 percent of them fill five to six different positions every single day! And you’re surprised you’re always tired.
2. Wearing Out.
A 40-hour workweek is rarely the norm for entrepreneurs. One 2011 poll found that one in five small business owners worked more than 60 hours a week. Combine that fun fact with another recent study, which determined small business owners are working 42 percent more hours than they were five years ago, and there’s definite reason for concern - not to mention a recipe for burnout.
3. No IT Support.
Being your own tech-guy shouldn’t go underappreciated as a challenge many small businesses are facing. From keeping the latest security to software upgrades and everything in between, technology is a necessity and staying on top of it is an issue. In fact, 65 percent of small business owners polled by the National Small Business Association believed that keeping up with technology is key to the success of their companies. Forty-three percent spend more than two hours a week addressing a technology problem.
An array of problems. One solution.
It’s called leverage. When you are doing all you can do, hire help. It may seem like an obvious choice, but when used correctly leverage’s ability to alleviate pain at a small business’ pressure points is undeniable.
When you find yourself spread too thin, it might be time to make your first hire. And who better to hire than someone who can handle all those hats for you? As we’ve told you time and again, administrative help is at the heart of a good organizational model. Hire the right person - an assistant executive - and you will be freed to focus on what matters most - your business.
And the last hat many entrepreneurs want to wear is tech support. Like so many other tasks, IT support can be outsourced at a reasonable cost - assign the job to your EA!
In our experience, the number one objection to hiring help is “I can’t afford it.” The reality is the right person almost universally pays for themselves many times over. And most employers know in weeks, not months, whether or not they made a great hire.
How have the right people helped you to manage the challenges your small business faces regularly?