Running your own business is inherently challenging and can be stressful. Especially in the first few years. The adventure begins with a rosy glow but then the daily slog up the mountain begins and it soon feels as if all you’re doing is putting one foot in front of the other, head bowed against the storm. You begin to think perhaps this isn’t the great adventure you thought it would be.

At first, you were willing to sacrifice to make it happen, to reach that business goal and plant your flag at the summit. But now, the sacrifices are being to feel like a monster devouring your life and your business dream.

As a business coach and mentor I hear the same five cries for help from nearly every entrepreneur I work with.

The 5 Biggest Challenges Business Owners Face

Challenge 1: I’m feeling stuck and can’t move forward

You may have stopped reading and learning – Whenever you’re feeling stuck, it’s because you are no longer inspired. When was the last time you learned something new? Continual learning is vital. Set aside time every day for self-development. Start with 15 mins a day. I can recommend great business books every entrepreneur should be reading. Make notes as you read and reread those notes often. Action what you learn the day you learn it, and keep actioning it until you are a master at it. And then keep doing it.

You may have stopped taking massive action – If you are taking massive action to market yourself and your company, to  source, connect with and engage with potential new clients you should never be stuck. If you want massive results, you need to be taking massive action. Assign a deadline and an ROI to every action you take. If the ROI isn’t achieved, you probably need to create better strategies which will allow you to take better action.

You may be marketing in the wrong places – If you are taking massive action but are not getting the right results, you are probably not marketing in the right places. Take a look at your client list – where does most of your work come from? That’s where your marketing should be focused.

You may be trying to climb the business mountain alone – Climbing alone is never a good idea. A good business coach will be able to point out the hazards of the path you are currently taking and suggest new ways round the obstacles and set you back on the right path, cheering you on as you climb.  

Are you feeling stuck? Do you need help in moving forward?

Challenge 2: I struggle with cash-flow and don’t know how to fix that

You may not be charging correctly – One of the biggest fears most entrepreneurs have is pricing themselves out of the market. They focus on what they think the client can afford, rather than on what they want to earn, or need to earn, to realise their own personal dream. Your hourly rate needs to be calculated from that perspective, not the client’s. You need to factor in not only the value of your work, but also how much you want to save, how much you want to put back into the company to grow it, how much profit you want to make, how much you want to invest in order to earn new income flows which you can leverage. You also need to factor in the time spent by other employees on the project.

Your clients may owe you money – When clients owe you money, the length of time required to collect it, not to mention the manpower and emotional stress it can cause, actually costs you money – if this is happening you may need to change your business model. Remember, you would have to pay for your climbing equipment first before you used it.  The ‘Payment Up-Front’ model is the best.

You may not be budgeting correctly – There are 4 budgets every entrepreneur should have: The Personal Monthly Budget, The Personal Weekly Budget, The Monthly Business Budget and The Weekly Business Budget. Once these are set up correctly it will be much easier to see where wastage is taking place. Once it becomes obvious you are spending money on unnecessary things or services, it’s much easier to give them up.

Do you need help in solving your cash-flow crisis?

Challenge 3: I’m feeling overwhelmed

You may not know what your employees are worth to your company – You should be able to work on a 300% return on investment with every employee. This ROI is more than achievable, and the employees will be delighted to do it – if they are working to their strengths and core values, and if they share both the company’s core values and the company’s mission. Look at it this way, there are two adventurers. Both are expert climbers, but one is a route-finder extraordinaire and the other is an endurance climber. Both love their speciality, but to conquer the mountain before the storm hits they will need to work together, allowing the other to lead when a situation demands that person’s specific skill. If they both try to lead at the same time,  they will very soon be at each other’s throats, and both will be overwhelmed with frustration.

You may not be getting the best ROI out of your suppliers – The best advice is to pay attention to what your supplier, like your accountant, does for you. Ask questions in order to understand his role and how his advice would benefit your company – and then apply it.

You may need to up your networking game – Every entrepreneur should have a networking strategy and be using it properly. Networking is not just about sourcing new clients, but also about learning from other entrepreneurs in the same industry, especially those you look up to. They’ve already climbed the mountain and can give you great advice and encouragement.

You may need a great business coach –  Every mountain climber need a basecamp support crew, keeping an eye on weather developments, news of avalanches, as well as other potential hazards he may run into. Ultimately, it’s always the climber’s decision, but it’s the basecamp crew’s job to advise the mountaineer on the best course of action to take. Similarly, a business coach can help you turn your challenges from mountains into molehills.

Are you feeling so overwhelmed you need help?

Challenge 4: I work so hard I never see my family

You have to choose – One of the most important decision you will ever make as an entrepreneur is about your family. Is your family important to you or not? If they are important, then there are no ifs or buts about it. Once you’ve made that decision your other decisions will work around that.

You may need to build in some structure – Life for an entrepreneur can become all consuming. Late nights at your desk, working weekends, leaving for the office before the kids are even awake. A default diary can save your marriage and your family. Not to mention yourself.

There’s no denying that entrepreneurs do work extremely hard. You need a default diary. In the diary you have to allocate time every day for non-related work activities. My non-work related activities include exercise, meals, family, self-development, dream building, church and working on my life plan. It even has time allocated for when I have a protein snack.

My work related activities include reviewing and planning for the next day, Monday office meetings, admin, reading emails, social media, marketing and sales, networking, and meetings with clients.

You may need to implement some clear rules – If your family is important to you, there are two rules that are paramount:
Rule 1: All work related communication devices are switched off during family time.
Rule 2: Family related issues take precedence over business related issues.

You may need to work smarter – You will have to be smart about how to run your business and not become consumed by it. You need to do the important things and not the urgent things. It’s the urgent things that will keep you from your goal. And from your family.

Do you need help in identifying which tasks are important and which are urgent?

Challenge 5: I’m so stressed I’ve lost my passion for my business

You may need to reassess your business – Is your business truly in line with your value system? For example, you may enjoy a glass of good red wine now and then, but you do it responsibly and never drink and drive. However, although you enjoy wine you’d never run a liquor store. You couldn’t bring yourself to supply liquor to other people knowing they may drink and drive. Have you ever written down a list of values that no amount of money could ever entice you away from? How does your current business measure up?

You may need to reassess your career – Are you pursuing the right career? Are you climbing the right mountain? Building a business take an awful amount of dedication, time and effort. If you’re not in a business you enjoy, perhaps you need to rethink what it is you really want to do and make the switch now. Your stress may be the ‘internal you’ telling you you’re in the wrong profession. If you’re the kind of person who loves teaching maths to young kids why are you working as an accountant? There has to be delight in what you do or there will be no satisfaction.

You may be climbing too fast – If you are in the right profession and you’re definitely climbing the right mountain, then you need to see what the issues are and put them right. Once the issues have been dealt with, the passion will come back on its own. A number of issues entrepreneurs face have been listed in this article, along with possible solutions. Working through each methodically and carefully will take you, step by step, back to your passion.

You may need help – If your feelings of frustration and of being overwhelmed have become too much to cope with, and you despair of ever recapturing your passion, then you may need a business coach. Someone who is not emotionally involved in your business to help you take a breath, recapture the vision and set you back on the right path with strong, practical advice as well as keeping you focused.

Do you need a business coach to help you recapture your passion for your business?

Bertus de Wet is South Africa’s No 1 ROI Business Coach and Mentor. His advice is based on learned practical experience and a passion for constant learning and self-development. Contact him today for the first step towards reaching your goal – a business assessment.