The top three wishes of small-business owners

What are the challenges keeping our small-business leaders awake at night? What do they wish they could change in their organisations?

You may be surprised at how similar the challenges and desires for most business owners are, regardless of industry or company size. We interviewed some of Australia’s small-business owners to understand their major pain points. Here are the top three items on their wishlists.

1. Less miscommunication and less conflict

Most workplace conflicts stem from miscommunication. The majority of small-business owners want to reduce the occurrence of both conflict and miscommunication, as they believe this will lead to better business interactions both internally and externally.

Conflict mostly results in drama, and many business owners admit they have limited skills on how to deal with conflict ‘without casualties’. Or how to handle them to create positive outcomes, and get people to stay on task together.

In small business, conflict cannot be ignored. If anything, ignoring an issue of miscommunication or conflict will only make it worse. As one small-business leader we surveyed recognised, “Clear communication is important for any business to be efficient. In a small business, it can’t be ignored because a smaller number of staff means the attitudes and impacts of one or two people is more keenly felt.”

The key to reducing conflict and miscommunication is to have a clear communication strategy and seek feedback to ensure everyone is on the same page.

2. Greater efficiencies

Interruptions, technology failures and admin were all examples of things, given by the small-business owners we surveyed, that slowed them down. It is easy to waste valuable time in non-essential meetings and on other tasks that won’t move your project forward or improve your bottom line.

One small-business owner who Dancing with the Dragons interviewed asked for “more efficiency in all aspects of leading my business”. The ultimate aim being to have more time for professional development and expanding the business.

3. More time for learning and development

Just as employees are increasingly calling for training and skills development, small-business owners across Australia want to expand their skill set as well. When starting a small business, there is a lot to learn. Yet, many launch their business without taking the time to research and speak to others who have embarked on the same journey. Professional development allows these business owners to learn before making mistakes.

Another key factor in starting a business is to build a strong network of supporters who can assist you during challenging times. According to our report, time is a key barrier to small business owners investing in their own development opportunities.

Our report uncovered that small-business owners have recognised they are deficient in key leadership skills like balancing innovation with implementation and collaborating to achieve outcomes. These skills are essential to moving a business forward and could easily assist with other challenges like increasing collaboration to reduce miscommunication and conflict.

Increasingly, small-business owners feel that they are expected to do it all, be a “jack of all trades”. Yet, there are not enough hours in the day to achieve all their goals. With assistance, they can be better communicators, better collaborators and allow themselves the professional development opportunities to move the business forward. These three objectives may just help them get there.

Ilona Vass, Director, Dancing With The Dragons

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