Overcoming the struggles of being a sole trader

The difficulties that face sole traders are consistent, regardless of the industry the work is performed in. Many businesses conducting their work in the home improvement sector (in particular tradies) are sole traders, and benefit from this simple and most cost-effective business structure.

Many facets of running the business are generally out of their skillset. Operating a business as a sole trader, sees the owner controlling and managing the business. This includes the legal responsibilities for all aspects of the business, along with debts and losses being borne solely.

Tradies, for example, are consumed on the practical side of their business all day, overcoming the challenges of operating “on the tools” all day long. The need to be heavily involved in the practical side of the business goes hand in hand with the struggles of increasing personal effectiveness in the daily challenges of the business operations.

So, how does a sole trader rise above the daily struggles of personal effectiveness and deal with all facets of their business?

Having an up to date functional business plan, accounting and business systems, along with marketing strategies, are generally a distant thought. As the business grows and consumers become increasingly demanding of the quality product or service being delivered, the cycle of systems and processes is pushed to the side. Making some adjustments to the business operations will soon see some of the struggles dissipate.

Business plan

Having a functional business plan in place will give direction and a sense of strategy. Although this seems an onerous task, setting time to develop a business plan is necessary. Most of the information required is simply the operations of the business.

Systems

Operating systems that streamline administrative tasks is essential. Being complacent and not having these systems in place is simply crisis management. Standardising processes then permits business owners to produce success with an automated approach.

Marketing

When there is plenty of work in the pipeline it is easy to push marketing to the side. Settling with the idea that “we have enough work” is a dangerous place to be. Implementing and measuring marketing strategies is key to successful business, and must be active and in place at all times. Selling is a skillset in itself. Every business is in the business of selling. If you aren’t selling, you simply do not have a business. Delivering a top product or service means first-class customer service. Customer satisfaction and return clientele are key to success and it is imperative to measure this. For every 10 per cent of customer base lost because of poor satisfaction, there is a need to generate 30 per cent more sales.

Outsourcing the marketing component of a business will provide better results and a sense of security that the growth of the business has been placed into the hands of experts in this particular field.

Once a business owner has flagged the areas that are not in their skillset, or need due attention, plans can be put into place to actively move the business into a more productive and streamlined machine. Continuing to struggle with the elements out of a sole trader’s skillset, will see the continuation of the adverse cycle.

Implementing streamlined systems and outsourcing marketing functions will bring efficiency and business growth into the future.