4 Things That Terrify Small Business Owners


Fear dashes many dreams. You probably felt at least some of it as you considered whether to start your own company. But you did it anyway.

Still, there are critical tasks you have to take on as a business owner that can be downright scary, especially if they are outside your area of expertise. Whether you’ve been operating for six months or 10 years, you may always feel just a little queasy when you have to take them on. Here are four of the most nerve-racking fears that small business owners face and what you need to know about them.

Raising Capital

Raising capital from investors or outright borrowing it can be frightening. But sometimes, it’s necessary. Maybe you need startup funds, or you have to buy more inventory than you can afford. You might want to expand, or simply stay afloat during rough times.

One in four small businesses gets by with no external financing, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy. Seventy-five percent draw on one or more sources. About half of them get bank loans; others look to angel capital, venture capital, or finance companies. The latest figures available (from 2015) indicated that small businesses that didn’t self-finance through things like savings or credit cards, acquired nearly a trillion dollars in financing from third parties.

One thing that can help reduce your worry in this area is to make sure you know your financial situation inside and out, and have clean books. If your bookkeeping is solid, try to anticipate your needs rather than looking for money under pressure. Decisions made under stress are not always ideal for your business, and if your business is already showing signs of strain, you may have a tougher time getting approval for financing.

Bringing on Staff

“Hiring new employees” was reported to be the top challenge facing U.S. small businesses in 2017 in a survey of 1,100+ companies. And with good reason: The cost of a bad hire can be as much as 30 percent of the individual’s first-year earnings. These costs come as the result of the impact of things like employee morale, supervisory time, and the price of recruiting and onboarding.

You can minimize this risk by writing targeted job descriptions and asking the right questions when you interview candidates. Once you’ve hired new employees, give them (and yourself) the best start possible by implementing effective onboarding procedures.

Complying with Regulations

If you’re a very small business, it may be entirely up to you as the owner to ensure that your company is in compliance with the myriad laws and regulations in place for today’s workplace. You’ll find a new rule every time you turn around in areas like information security, product and workplace safety, and employee conduct, devised primarily by state governments and federal agencies.

Compliance is something like best practices on steroids. It isn’t simply a matter of following suggested guidelines because they’re they sound, proven ways to do business. Non-compliance sometimes has legal ramifications, including fines and lawsuits. Besides, it’s terrible publicity for you.

What to do? Learn about compliance regulations. A good place to start is at this section on the SBA website. School yourself in the major federal and state laws, explore resources offered by professional organizations, and consider outsourced HR consulting to make sure you’re all buttoned up.

Financial Management

This may be the one that really keeps you up at night and haunts too many of your days. A business has a lot of requirements when it comes to fiscal responsibility. You have to file income taxes and payroll taxes. Potential investors, banks, and franchisors will want to see standard financial reports. You need to understand cash flow and finances to evaluate your company’s performance, forecast revenue, collect payments, and try to predict the future of your business.

How do you make sure you have accurate data available when you need it? Decide what you should tackle and where you should hire a professional. Spending time trying to figure out what double-entry accounting protocols are might not be the best use of your time, and getting the books right yourself (or hoping your wife gets them right), is probably not a risk worth taking.  

The solution? Spend your time on the parts of your business where you can have the most positive effect and hire professionals to help you with the rest.

At BKE, we know small-business bookkeeping inside and out and will make sure you have clean, accurate books to run your business. We’ll take a look at your books free of charge to let you know what solutions are best for you. Get in touch today.