What keeps you awake at night? Is lack of sales a problem? Do customer service issues and poor ratings cause headaches? Do you feel that it takes too much time and effort to do the daily administration?
If so, you are not alone. Small businesses face challenges everywhere. But it is possible that while you see problems everywhere, you are deceiving yourself.
The real problems with your business may not be what you think.
In a recent BizSugar survey, sales and marketing are the biggest problems for small businesses.
These results are not surprising for Ivana Taylor from DIYMarketers, who developed the survey for BizSugar. She says that small businesses that responded to the survey – and indeed many small businesses – just think that sales and marketing are their biggest challenges. But often the problem is more complex and has to do with what entrepreneurs spend their time for.
"Why aren't these back office articles classified as major problems?" Taylor asked. She said the survey results didn't really surprise her at first. Sales and marketing are often reflex responses. "Until a company is flush with profitable customers and cash, sales and marketing will be a big challenge." after Taylor.
In fact, Taylor says that small businesses only struggle with sales and marketing, mainly because they don't have time to focus on them.
"Thirty percent of small businesses are deceiving themselves!" she argues. She talks about the almost 30% of small business owners who said they work in their business instead of working on it – as owners should. The following table tells the story.
One of the reasons why so many work in their companies is out of necessity. "Many of the small business owners surveyed do not have the luxury of a large staff to do all of these activities for them," added Taylor.
In fact, almost 40% of respondents say they are the only ones who work in their business. Another 23% say they only have 2 to 5 employees.
The message could not have been clearer. Back office efficiency may not be a problem for every small business, but a problem for some. And for those entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who have chosen it as a problem, it is a BIG problem because it keeps them from activities with higher added value such as generating income.
Sometimes owners have no choice. You have to do the job, because nobody else is responsible for small businesses. And the efficiency of the back office takes a back seat to necessity.
However, other owners can continue these activities because of difficulties. "I think sometimes the owners focus on tasks that they can do themselves because they are comfortable," says Taylor.
Back office activities that owners perform include billing, scheduling, making service calls, answering customer questions, and other administrative activities.
The underlying challenge in back office efficiency is a lack of resources. This means that often nobody but the boss answers customer calls, schedules appointments, sends invoices or makes service calls.
Therefore, important initiatives, including sales and marketing campaigns, simply have to wait. Of course, these are exactly the initiatives with the power to increase revenue and grow your business.
Rhonda Wall, marketing automation expert at Hey Help Me Rhonda, gives another example of repetitive activities – and how automation can help.
“If you have a service-oriented company that typically requires advice or a phone call to a prospective customer, automating the planning process is important to save you the time, prospective customers with back and forth emails or phone calls track them down by allowing them to automatically book a meeting with you for a time that works best for them, ”says Walls.
She states that Zoho Bookings is a tool that can help with this type of automation (Editor's Note: Zoho covers part of the cost for the Small Business Trends sister site, BizSugar, who conducted the survey.)
"Time is money and your time on the phone has to be used to actually talk to your customer and not to play phone tags," Wall adds.
Would you like to learn more about how automation can improve back office efficiency in your small business? Join the BizSugar mastermind group and discuss automation with our community of experts.