If you run a small business, you’ll reap many benefits. But, let’s face it, every business encounters some problems. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have good problems. What’s a “good problem?” It’s the kind showing you’re doing something right. But it still leaves you with a challenge you need to face.
Still, no one ever wants to hear you complain about these nine problems:
1. More customers than you can handle. People are lined up outside your café; you can’t fit in another appointment; you’re running two shifts to fill all your orders. You’ve got a few options of handling this “problem.” You could increase prices—clearly there’s lots of demand. Or you could expand your capacity. Perhaps it’s time to hire?
2. An investor wants to give you a whole lot of money. Your start-up is the talk of the town, and venture capitalists want to help you build your company—fast. That means a lot of money, but it also can mean a lot of problems. You may build too quickly, spend too freely, burn through money too fast. Work with your hungry investors to come up with a reasonable growth plan—so that when you don’t deliver big numbers in supersonic time, the VCs don’t shut you down or push you out.
3. Your banker wants to loan you too much money. This is a good problem to have, right? If you’ve got great credit, and a good banking relationship, your banker is likely to keep raising your borrowing capacity. But that means they expect you to use it—or lose it. While you definitely want to keep a good amount of credit available, if your credit limit is sky high, there may be pressure on you to use it, making you expand more than is smart.
4. Creative employees. Many companies—especially some larger corporations—really don’t want their employees to think. They want people that do jobs assigned to them—efficiently but not creatively. Small businesses rarely benefit from that kind of approach. We need every employee to take initiative, suggest ways to improve, truly care. Find ways to utilize that creativity.
5. Everyone wants to work for you. Are too many people applying for your jobs? Do you feel you need a full-time HR person? Hopefully that’s because you have such a reputation as a great place to work. Be sure you write clear job listings—to weed out inappropriate applicants—and spend the time to find the gems in your applicant pool.
6. You pay lots of taxes. No one likes taxes. But if you’re paying very little in taxes, you either have an anemic income statement (or a very powerful Washington lobbyist). Being faced with a lot of profits—and accompanying high taxes—is a great problem to have. Make sure you’ve got a good tax advisor so you can legitimately reduce your taxes if possible, max out your retirement contributions, and you invest in your employees (better pay and benefits) and company improvements (new equipment?).
7. The competition is imitating you. You’re so cutting edge, everyone is copying you. However, remember success is all about execution. You and your competition may both have the same idea but the company that delivers wins, often even if its product isn’t as good.
8. You have a ton of new ideas. Entrepreneurs are creative people. Every day, before noon, I’ve probably come up with an idea for a new business or product. But this kind of constant creativity can distract you from your bread-and-butter business. The solution? Planning!
9. Larger companies want to buy you. For many of us, our small businesses are our babies. We may have started them at our kitchen tables and grew them into large, thriving companies. Like a parent with college-bound kids, it may be hard to let go. If you’re fortunate, plan well, and work hard, you may grow a company of considerable worth that another company wants to buy. That’s a pretty nice problem to have.
Finally, no one—no one—wants to hear that you’re too busy. Many small business owners have been through a recession and know what it’s like to not be busy. This is not a problem. Count your blessings.
Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015
This article originally ran in USA Today on June 12, 2015