So alone, so little time - life as an SME

Small business owners are time-poor, friend-free, says a new survey about the working habits of small business owners. Your way out? More use of clever technology.

Delegation issues, work/life balance, isolation and time management have emerged as the key concerns of small business owners following Servcorp’s My Biggest Small Business Challenge competition.

The social media based initiative, launched last month, called on small businesses to share their biggest concerns on Servcorp’s Facebook page in a bid to win $5,000.

The results from 176 entries revealed that the needs of small businesses are changing and that new technologies are providing solutions to the rapidly shifting requirements of running a successful SME, said Servcorp’s CIO and Sales Director become more successful Marcus Moufarrige.

“Running a small business can be a lonely experience, and joining a business community can help not only to alleviate the isolation, but also in terms of generating fresh ideas and perspectives,” he said.

The competition winner Kylie Nash from Bubs in Arms, an online baby gifting service wrote in her entry that the fear of losing control by delegating tasks is her biggest challenge. She also tipped marketing, social media and web development as big challenges in terms of devoting enough time to carry out action plans.

“There are so many options available it is imperative to find reputable business partners,” she said.

Nash will invest her $5,000 prize back in the business to help with advertising and online marketing ventures. She also hoped that by sharing her issues with the community that she can bring attention to a problem that other SMEs are also facing.

The other three finalist which struck a chord with the group included Claire Gresty, creator of children’s online etailer, The Little Dress Making Company, who said her biggest challenge was work/life balance and “always living and breathing the business”; Keri James of independent travel agency, iTravel, who explained that isolation was a key hurdle; and Borge Prinsloo of catering company, Mr Roast said his biggest challenge was time management. ”Small business owners have to do so many roles simultaneously that it is often hard to find the time to do it all. If only we could clone ourselves!”

Moufarrige advised that SMEs should embrace technologies such as video communication, cloud computing and the virtual office to reach broader markets, or stay better connected with clients and colleagues. “Having reception and communication facilities on-hand even when business owners have clocked-off can also do wonders for work/life balance. While the creation of a virtual workforce could also keep their costs lower and enables them to tackle these key business challenges,” he added.

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