The top business problems my clients experience

I thought I’d share some of the top business problems that my business consultancy clients bring to me on a regular basis and how I help them to work through these issues.

Business problem 1.  Not enough customers

Most of my clients come to me because they want help with their marketing.

They know there are millions of things that they could do to sell more, but they have no idea which of these they should do, and in what order. This one isn’t as simple as it sounds.  Sure, I can help people put together a marketing plan of really effective actions that will get them out there in front of the right people.  But, I often challenge my clients because I don’t think that they’re selling the right thing.

So we need to work on developing different services to sell, often to a different target market.  And sometimes, the first thing we need to look at is their pricing – there’s no point in doing lots of marketing to attract new customers, if you’re selling at the wrong price.  We fix those things, and maybe look at some of the ways they could be working differently as well, with new systems and higher rates of productivity. And then we get going with planning out a fantastic marketing plan, and how to sell more to more customers.

Business problem 2. Too many customers – can’t cope

For many people, this sounds like a nice business problem to have, but it really isn’t. And it can give you more sleepless nights and threaten to ruin your business just as easily as not having enough customers.

This is where the business has expanded more quickly than you expected and work has come in faster than you’ve been able to employ and train people to do the work or support customers. Or the work has all come in at once, like a series of buses in the rain.  You can’t get on all of those buses, and you can’t do the best possible work for a whole bunch of new customers all at the same time.

The solution here is to look at the systems in the business and being able to streamline the processes.  How can you better delegate?  Can you automate some features, even little things which take up time?  And can you manage customers’ expectations better?  If you’ve done such a good job of marketing, your customers probably want to buy your thing, not someone else’s thing, maybe they’re prepared to wait, as long as you tell them when it’s going to be their turn well in advance.

And of course – the biggie – are you prepared to say no to some customers?  The ones who don’t want to spend much money – see my article on the Lidl customers, and a good one about how to wean yourself off overservicing your clients.  As your business grows, maybe some of the customers you would have loved to work with last year are ones you have outgrown and you want to say no to this year.

Business problem 3. Enough customers, but not enough money

I do a lot of work with people around how to set the right pricing.  And then how to manage cash flow – there’s no point having the right pricing if you’re going to have to wait for your money for months on end.

This is a particularly complex and interesting area for me, as it has a mixture of pure business (what can I get away with charging and how to I set up good credit control) plus all of the emotional issues around feeling good enough to charge good money and feeling assertive enough to chase people for the money they owe.

If this sounds like you and your business, you might want to set up a coffee and cake meeting with me sooner rather than later – it doesn’t get easier if you just leave it to sort itself out

Business problem 4. We’ve grown and everything’s out of control

are you stuck on the hamster wheel of businessI love this one.  Sometimes I get people come to me with what looks like a fantastic business, but they’re going crazy with worry because they’ve been stuck on the firefighting hamster wheel of doom for months.  I love these situations because very often I can suggest some changes to the business which result in a really rapid turnaround and all the client has to do is a little bit of tidying up and then start growing the business in a more sustainable way for the future.  It’s probably my biggest area of impact, which is why I love getting involved in these sorts of challenges.

Business problem 5. I’ve got a new product/service and I don’t know if it will work

This might be a brand new business, or more often, it’s an existing business with a new product idea.  Because the new thing is different to the old thing, it’s difficult to balance the two, and the new thing might need a completely different marketing plan.

Business problem 6. I need a new idea for the business

I really enjoy helping people to reposition their existing business or helping people to think of something new.  I’ve got a big bag of business ideas, often addressing a gap in the market, and these can come in very handy, with a bit of tweaking to make them suit you.  Sometimes this business problem needs specific one on one consultancy help, sometimes I suggest that people subscribe to my library of business ideas at New Business Ideas Collection.

Business problem 7. I think I’m good at what I do, but I have no idea how to sell it

Some of the best people consistently hide their businesses away and don’t tell the world how great they are.  And some people just want to get on with the work itself, and either don’t know or don’t want to do the marketing to get enough work in.

Sometimes I’ll work with people on how to do marketing that doesn’t involve “working the room” or being a pushy salesperson, but is based on gently showing how good you are and getting that message out to the world, so there’s a queue of people wanting it.  And for the people who genuinely don’t want to do any marketing, I’ll help them find enough money in the business to outsource their business development and support them in finding the right people to do it for them

Business problem 8.  I want to get some investment into the business

There are certain stages in a business when you need to get some extra cash in to finance the next leg of the journey.  I’ve raised lots of money in the past, both for my own businesses and for clients, so I can help people to work out the best way to do this for them, write a business plan for them if they need it, and support them in negotiating with investors, making them look good for the bank and maybe getting going with crowdfunding.

Business problem 9.  Shall I pack it all in?

Not all businesses will live forever.  And, unfortunately, some of them are doomed from the start.  Sometimes people come to see me because they need an objective opinion as to whether their business has reached its sell-by date. I will tell you honestly if you need to get out of that business and close it down or sell it on in some way.  Or if it’s got some life in it yet, but you need a different approach to get it going, and if I can help you to do that.

If any of these sound like the kind of challenges you’re grappling with in your business, why not book a time to come and see me, or have a chat on Skype.  I’m always up for a coffee and cake consultation first to talk about what’s happening and if I’m the right person to help you out.

Do you want more ideas for building a successful company?

I’ve written dozens of ideas and how to guides here at the Joy of Business to help you to build your business. Some of them are in my Secrets of Business Success downloadable guide – see the bottom of this page for how to get your hands on this. And here are some more articles you’ll find invaluable for creating the kind of business you want to be known for:

How to handle someone being horrible to you online


Photo credits – Lisa Stevens and Jennifer Balaco 

Title photo credit – Tit Bonac from Flickr on a creative commons licence