This article was originally published in the 2018 Winter Pulse – The Pulse is a mutual insurance industry publication that aims to help companies understand emerging issues. Articles in the Pulse offer advice on how to grow and protect businesses. The impact of the Pulse reaches throughout the Mid-Atlantic states through readers from of PAMIC’s many member companies.
Owning and operating a small business is incredibly rewarding – but it’s not without its challenges. Small business owners wear many different hats. Often, they play the lead role in many areas that larger companies have entire departments to manage. With so much individual responsibility, it’s easy to get lost in daily duties and issues the organization faces – failing to recognize big-picture problems is an issue small businesses are facing across the board.
In 2017, there have been a variety of particular challenges that have stopped some small businesses in their tracks. Learning to overcome them can help clear a pathway to success for 2018. We took a closer look at two of the most pervasive issues small businesses face today to shed some light on how to effectively approach them in the new year.
According to Wasp Barcode Technologies annual small business survey, the biggest challenge facing small businesses today is hiring employees – with 50% of respondents reporting hiring as their top challenge. It makes sense – effective hiring can be the difference between growing a small business and going out of business. But recruiting and hiring top talent is easier said than done.
With 29.6 million small businesses, it’s difficult to attract the right prospects. While this is a challenge that larger businesses also face, small businesses are without the advantage of a big brand and extensive resources.
Implementing simple and effective HR practices can enhance the hiring process for small businesses. One easy way to improve hiring is to increase the number of qualified applicants. Without a substantial volume of candidates, small businesses forfeit their ability to choose, opening themselves up the risk of counterproductive hiring. As a small business owner, it’s helpful to be proactive and work on searching for and contacting potential applicants through resume database searches and professional networks like LinkedIn.
Small businesses don’t have all the time in the world to spend hiring so it’s important to use time invested in recruiting wisely – and it begins in the job posting. Small businesses need to harness the interest of people who are passionate about their company. Therefore, it’s important that job postings are honest about what the business stands for and that the content is tailored towards an optimal candidate. Small business owners should use tools like Google Trends to learn about popular job titles and phrases. It’s also helpful to peek around at similar job postings to pick up their strengths and weaknesses when creating a job description of your own. Spending time on the job posting can save small businesses precious time in the recruitment process.
Another major challenge pertinent to small businesses is cybersecurity – and it must be taken seriously. According to a report by Keeper Security and The Ponemon Institute, 50% of small businesses have been breached in the past year. Small businesses are a hacker’s best friend – holding more digital assets than the individual consumer, but less security than a large company. The most common attacks against small businesses are web-based phishing, when hackers collect sensitive information (think: login credentials, credit card info) through a legitimate-looking (but actually fraudulent) website, usually sent to unsuspecting individuals in an email.
Preventing cybersecurity threats begins with proactive planning. Small businesses should initially create a disaster recovery plan – noting the answers to critical questions such as, What data needs to be best protected? Which firewall resources should we use? The plan should include details about what will be done in the event of a cybersecurity threat as well as best practices to avoid cyber attacks. Creating this disaster recovery plan also gives small businesses the opportunity to map out how the company will react in the case of a fire, flood, or any other type of natural disaster.
The next step is to improve cybersecurity awareness within the organization. It’s important to ensure employees are aware of common phishing scams and how to avoid them, as well as the processes laid out in the disaster recovery plan. Taking the initiative to instill cybersecurity awareness can help protect a small business from the efforts of destructive hackers.
Effective hiring and cybersecurity planning are only two key difficulties small businesses face. There is an infinite list of challenges plaguing small businesses everyday. To deal with them most effectively, it’s helpful to talk to an expert in business advisory services. Working with a knowledgeable partner can break down these issues and help push your business towards growth in the new year.