High Rise

The Most Common Challenges Of Running A Small Business


I’ve spent my entire career in the startup and small business space in the UK and Australia, from my first job to eventually managing fintech startups, even restaurants, cafes and a hotel and now as Head of Growth at Credit Card Compare.

Growing up, I was inspired by the stories of my father, who started a business out of the boot of his car and went selling door to door, which led to him opening one of Northern Ireland’s most successful independent retail stores. This experience has given me a deep admiration for the ambition and resilience of small business owners, the underdogs who power communities and fuel the economy.

“There is so much to be done, and I don’t have enough resources. I just don’t know what to do. Where do I begin?”

Throughout my career, I’ve noticed that one of the most common challenges small business owners face in these countries is the lack of resources and expertise in various business areas.

That’s why I always emphasise the importance of surrounding yourself with a support system, including an attorney, an accountant, and other small business owners who can provide guidance.

Exploring resources offered by other businesses in the ecosystem is crucial, which provide tools, resources, and education to help enhance business operations and digital enablement.

If you aren’t on X, formerly known as Twitter, as a small business, you can benefit from the small business movement and network with other businesses on the same path as you. There are great accounts on X that offer stories that will motivate and inspire you—you can follow me @garethaboyd if you wish!

“I am struggling with digital innovation. The pandemic taught me if I don’t have a digital presence, I am going to lose customers. Where do I start?”

The pandemic has highlighted the need for small businesses in both countries to have a strong digital presence. Surveys in the UK and Australia have shown that a significant number of small businesses increased their online presence or adopted new digital technologies due to COVID-19.

I cannot stress enough the importance of reaching customers in both physical and digital spaces. If you focus on just one of those spaces, you’ll stall your business. But if you do both, you get the multiplier effect. Utilising tools for setting up websites, digital marketing campaigns, and software to streamline business operations can make a world of difference.

“How do I prepare my business so I can raise capital?”

When it comes to accessing capital, I always advise small business owners in the UK and Australia to keep their personal and business finances separate. When representing yourself to a bank or any entity from which you’re seeking funding, it is essential to show your business as a business by keeping your personal life separate.

This includes having a business checking account and separate consumer and small business credit cards. You want to represent yourself fully as a small business owner.

“There are too many credit card offers out there for small business owners. What should I even be looking for?” 

When it comes to choosing a small business credit card, I emphasise the importance of selecting one with benefits that directly help run the business, such as cashback, frequent flyer points, built-in tools, discounts, and educational resources.

It’s a no-brainer if you can extract further value from your business purchases and get an extra 30-day payment.

We have spent the best part of 12 years comparing credit card options for small businesses on our comparison platforms Finty.com (UK) and CreditCardCompare.com.au (Australia), which details all small business benefits and products that can help find the best fit for individual businesses’ needs.

“What do we do to survive and thrive through inflation? It’s difficult to compete with other businesses and the different benefits they provide.”

Managing your business through inflation is another challenge small businesses face in both countries, with inflation rates reaching significant highs recently.

I recommend focusing on inventory management, cash flow, and improving both front-end and back-end operations. Leveraging social media and marketing to promote and scale the business while better managing expenses on goods and services can help navigate these difficult times.

Learn everything you possibly can about how to run a business. If you have a blind spot, do not stick your head in the sand. Become a voracious learner from people who know what they’re talking about – otherwise you’re doomed to learning the slow painful way of trial and error.

There is no denying that getting through tough times like inflation is difficult, similar to a knife fight in business. But the positive way to look at it is that we are all in the same boat, and the strongest will always come out the other side.

“I am doing really well with my current offering. How do I know when it is OK to expand?”

Expanding a successful business can be tempting, but I always advise waiting for consistency before taking that step.

Many people feel that they want to change the world once they see a little success. But if you wait and get much success under your belt, you will change the world.

Trusting your gut instinct is the biggest advice I can give anyone, based on my experience expanding. Often, business owners ignore their gut feelings and lead with their hearts. Always trust your instincts and gut feeling.

If an opportunity is too good to pass up, think hard, especially in the current economic climate.

As small businesses in the UK and Australia continue to manage the challenges of today’s economy, I hope that my insights and advice, gained from years of experience in the small business space, can serve as a valuable resource for entrepreneurs striving to start, grow, and sustain their ventures.

I always tell clients I provide growth consultancy to the following: Small business owners are the underdogs who power our economies.

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