Majority of small business owners struggle with at least one aspect of business

Nearly two thirds of small business owners say they initially struggled with at least one area of their fledgling business, according to a new report.

The survey, by the Association of Accounting Technicians (ATT), quizzed the owners of more than 500 small businesses (those employing fewer than 250 people). 65% said they struggled to get to grips with at least one business area and more than a quarter (27%) admitted that it took them over a year to feel confident about running their own business.

This is perhaps only natural. Starting a new business from scratch can be daunting, especially for the new or inexperienced entrepreneur. Perhaps more worryingly however, 4% of respondents said they were still not entirely confident about running their business.

One potential reason for the initial struggles and lack of confidence may stem from a lack of initial knowledge in the start-up stages. More than a quarter (26%) said that they launched their business less than a month after starting to research it.                                 

Research is an essential part of the start-up process and could help more new businesses to avoid early insolvency. According to the latest data released by the Office for National Statistics, there were 351,000 business births in 2014 – the highest number recorded since comparable records began in 2000. There were also 246,000 business deaths however.

Of those small businesses in the ATT survey who had carried out research and sought business advice, just over a fifth (22%) said they enlisted the help of an accountant. Some 19% had made use of internet search engines, 11% visited dedicated business websites and 8% sought advice from trade bodies such as the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB).

When asked what area they wished they had spent more time on when they first started the business the top answer, cited by 19% of respondents, was marketing. Just over one in ten said they should have dedicated more time to understanding finances, 8% said IT and 5% said they should have focussed more on social media and PR.

By Phil Smith

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