A few months ago I had a novel idea for a new business. I thought it would be easy to set up, I assumed it would be relatively cheap. None of that was true.
The one thing I did assume correctly, however, was that the more time I gave myself to build the business, the easier it would be, the less it would impact on my current career and the more time I would have to deal with issues I never saw coming. And that was a smart move, because there have been a lot of issues that I just never anticipated. The more of these that I faced, the more I began to look out for, and in the last few months I’ve learned about many issues that small businesses may have to face.
3. Importing and Exporting
My business idea revolved around importing a product, repacking it and then selling it on. This product was already being sold nationwide and was fully certified, so I didn’t imagine that there would be many issues. I assumed that I would just need to make a bulk purchase, repack, and then ship.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
When you import any significant quantity you need to follow certain import and export regulations. You need to arrange customs declarations and in most cases (all that I found) the exporter will not ensure that the product ends up at your door, but will simply make sure it lands at the nearest dock and has your name on it.
How you get it from the dock to your house or place of business is entirely down to you. For a small business selling in the hundreds not millions, this was a shock and one that left me completely dumbfounded.
And that’s not the only issue, because nothing to do with importing or exporting is simple, especially when a food product is concerned. In my case the food product was a type of tea and the stuff I was importing was merely the packaging for this tea, but I still had to jump through hoops to make sure it was safe and certified, which required all kinds of paperwork.
2. Your Past May Come Back to Bite You
There was one area in which I was pretty lucky: I don’t have a history of credit problems, fraud or even drunk driving. And it’s just as well, because these problems can cost small businesses everything. If you are caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol then not only could you lose driving privileges which have an immediate impact on your business, but it will stay on your record and make it difficult to get a business loan.
A history of bad credit will also kill your hopes before you even get your business off the ground, as it will make it difficult to get a business account, a loan and a company credit card. Not only are these important to the running of a small business, but in some cases they are required.
1. The Reliance on One Person
I didn’t start this business by myself and the role that my business partner plays is equally important to mine. But if any of us can no longer perform that role then the business will end before it even officially launches and this is something that many small businesses struggle with. It is key that you choose the right business partner from the start, but hurdles in life can impede his or her ability to lead.
A successful small business can not be reliant on the skills or leadership of one person. That might be acceptable prior to the launch of the business and in that case it doesn’t really matter, because if that leadership breaks down then you only lose an idea and an initial startup. But if it continues to be true throughout the operation of the business it means that the capital, the work, the employees—everything, is reliant on one person.
What happens if that person loses their will and motivation to continue with the business. What if they no longer have the time. What if they are injured, ill or even dead? If you are that one person and your business is currently paying the bills for your family, then it’s time to initiate a backup plan. It’s okay to have a skilled individual or a strong leader who helps the business to success at the highest level, but it’s not okay for that person to be the only reason why the business is still afloat.