5 challenges every small business owner faces (+ solutions!)

Editorial Team

6 min read
Plant shop owner on phone looking at laptop

May is Small Business Month, a time to pay tribute to the many contributions small merchants make to their communities all over the country.

A 2019 SBA report found that small businesses generated 44% of all economic activity and created two-thirds of all jobs in the US. Overall, ​​ locally-owned small businesses generate higher incomes for people in a community than big brands.

It’s not easy to run a small business. Small business owners have to take on many different roles at once, often multitasking between HR, marketing, budgeting, accounting, and customer service. Small Business Month is the perfect time to recognize the many hats that small business owners wear—and share some resources that can make their lives a little easier. 

Here are some common challenges small business owners face, as well as tools we recommend to help them continue to thrive.

Challenge 1: Dealing with rising costs

Everyone is dealing with a higher cost of living than in previous years due to inflation. It’s the number one concern of small business owners: more than half (53%) of merchants say inflation is their biggest challenge in a recent survey. Inflation also makes it harder to generate revenue and leads to rising interest rates. 

Overcoming this challenge is tricky, since there’s very little an individual can do to impact the economy. Instead, merchants are relying on clear, real-time reports to adjust promotions, pricing, and product offering to respond to customer needs. Clover’s powerful analytics tools give merchants a look into real-time sales trends that are driving business, and track key metrics like revenue and performance. 

Courtney Crowson, owner of Smoke and Oak, shares access to Clover reports with his team so they can watch the Item Sales report to identify their best-sellers and pare down on underperforming products as necessary.

“It’s easy for my whole team to see the same breakdowns by product,” says Crowson. “It keeps everybody on the same page and saves a lot of time in our team meetings. Clover providing those reports helps us understand, Here’s where we landed last week. Here’s where we’re at so far this month.” 

READ: How inflation impacts businesses and ways to overcome it

Challenge 2: Hiring great staff

A CNBC poll found that more than 50% of small business owners struggle to find high-quality talent. Hiring can be an expensive task–especially when a merchant hires the wrong fit. 

Small business owners like Jill Mitchael, co-owner of 72 West, mitigate these risks by automating routine tasks to free up existing staff. Using the Homebase app integrated with her POS system, she can schedule staff in just a few taps. “The thing that’s great about that is it communicates to our employees via their cell phones, so they always have their schedule. It’s super easy for employees and for us,” she said. 

Clover offers tons of automation features that help alleviate the pressure on existing staff. Restaurants can use Applova to convert tablets into self-ordering kiosks, create QR codes for digitized ordering, and organize orders in the kitchen. Other businesses can add a platform like JazzHR to Clover to help make hiring easier. 

Challenge 3: Keeping track of taxes

Tax season is stressful for everyone, and with April in the rearview mirror, many merchants are thinking about how to make the process less painful next year. Clover app integrations can automate and keep track of sales and payroll taxes, keeping detailed records, so business owners don’t have to. 

Dean Reimers, owner of The Bagel Meister with his wife Diane, uses DAVO Tax, which pulls a tax out of sales every day and makes a tax payment at the end of the month. “Once things are set up the way you want them to be, it’s a breeze, there’s nothing else to do,” he said.

DAVO takes about five minutes to set up. It connects to a Clover device to pull the tax data from daily sales. Then, sales tax is automatically set aside and placed into DAVO’s secure holding account, separating sales tax from the company’s business income. DAVO then pays sales tax in full from the reserved funds when sales tax comes due each month or quarter. 

Clover’s POS systems also integrate with popular accounting and CRM software to help make tax time preparation easier. 

Challenge 4: Accepting all forms of payment

Somewhat unbelievably, paper checks are still an accepted payment method for some small business owners. It’s a sign that these merchants may still not have optimized their payment platform to be able to accept all forms of payments (yes, including paper checks). 

The Irish American Heritage Museum was struggling with an outdated payments system that was costing them time, money, and sales. “We were a very small, mom-and-pop museum in our older building,” said executive director Elizabeth Stack. “In fact, the credit card machine was plugged in in the kitchen, so you would have to run back there with somebody’s card. It was inconvenient and old-fashioned.”

The opportunity to overcome payment frustration finally came when the museum moved locations. Making the switch to Clover allows the Irish American Heritage Museum to accept credit cards, debit cards, gift cards, and contactless payments—both online and in-person. 

“Now, when people buy tickets online for an event, it’s all done seamlessly through Clover, and we don’t have to batch at the end of the night,” says Stack. “It’s all automated, which is fantastic.”

Challenge 5: Handling supply chain delays and inventory management

Last year’s disruptions to global supply chains are starting to ease, but merchants are still nervous. One in five merchants cite delays in their supply chain as their biggest concern. To mitigate this risk, many are turning to inventory management solutions — which also provide the benefit of reducing shrinkage

Clover’s inventory management solutions helped businesses like The Batty Lady, a lead supplier of quilting materials owned by Alicia Campbell. Switching to Clover enables Campbell to make sure she’s fully stocked and access her inventory at trade shows. “I was frustrated by trying to keep track of inventory,” says Campbell. “I was using a cash register…but it wasn’t helping me to do a lot of the things that I needed to streamline.” 

Campbell was able to get more time back in her day by automating inventory with Clover’s Inventory feature.“[Clover] saves time, and it sure is a lot easier to do it electronically than it is to do it manually,” she said. 

These are just a few challenges business owners tackle every day. It takes a lot of courage, energy, and patience to run a business. Clover tools can help make life easier. Be sure to regularly visit the Clover blog for more merchant stories, product news, app updates, small business tips, and inspiration that can support small business owners during Small Business Month and every month.

To learn more about how Clover can help you automate more of your business, contact a Clover Business Consultant today.


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