November 13, 2019 en_US QuickBooks by Intuit partnered with Wakefield Research to find out what business owners struggle with most. Research shows good advice can help you run your small business

Research shows good advice can help you run your small business

By Megan Sullivan November 13, 2019

Whether you’ve been in business for one year or 10 years, there is more than likely one area of your business that you’re always going to need help with—finances. As a small business owner, you understand that balancing the books is about more than simple math, but understanding the nuances of your own accounting is a daunting task.

Recently, QuickBooks® by Intuit® partnered with Wakefield Research to find out what really trips up business owners when it comes to their own financial record-keeping. Whether it’s uncertainty over business growth, a hesitation to ask for help from peers or trust issues surrounding advice, one thing became clear in the research: as a small business owner, you are not alone.

More than half of business owners are terrified about business growth

Of the 1,000 small business owners with companies of 0 to 100 employees interviewed by Wakefield Research, more than half (54%) stated that the thought of business growth was more terrifying than exciting. This sentiment was felt across all small business owner segments, regardless of age or age of business.

Failure is another scary proposition. At least 6 out of 10 millennials, 5 out of 10 Gen Xers and 4 out of 10 Baby Boomers admitted that fear is the predominant feeling regarding the state of their business—all of these business owners felt their businesses were failing at some level. They also worry that stagnation is a sign of failure. Major and minor setbacks lead small business owners to feel less confident about the work they’re doing and their chances for success.

So, what does this mean for you? It means primarily that you—the small business owner—are not alone. If you’ve ever felt sad or frustrated at your business’ success, you can be assured that even the owners of the 50-year family-owned restaurant down the street has felt the same. This sense of solidarity is important to remember as you work to make your business a continued success.

Take a deep breath and remember that you, and every small business owner that’s come before you, has felt this way and lived to tell the tale.

More than half of experienced business owners don’t view year-over-year growth as the only measure of business success

Wakefield’s research found that small business owners may feel more bearish about their business for one simple reason: their standards of success are too high. If your measure of success is a certain percentage of year-over-year growth, then you may view anything less as a failure. More than half (51%) of other small business owners feel the same.

Consider following the model of more well-established businesses when measuring your success. Fifty-eight percent of business owners who have been in business for 11 or more years do not view year-over-year growth as their only measure of success. For businesses with a shorter tenure, the numbers are lower.

So, it would seem that the longer you’ve been driving your own business, the more anxious you become regarding growth. It doesn’t have to be that way. There are other measures of success, including the ability to hire new employees, securing lucrative contracts or even just keeping your doors open for another year.

The moral of this story seems to be that comparing your success to others won’t necessarily lead to more success. Instead, it tends to lead to frustration, sadness and anger. As a small business owner, you don’t have time for that.

More than 3/4s of small business owners ask an outsider for help

Here’s the one key takeaway from the Wakefield Research report prepared for QuickBooks by Intuit: ask for help.

It may seem easier and less threatening to call up your uncle Jack and ask for some business-related financial advice, as nearly three-quarters (72%) of your colleagues do the same thing. But, unless uncle Jack is a successful businessman, you’re probably not getting the type of financial help you need.

So, why is it so hard to ask an expert for advice? According to Wakefield’s research, there are a few legitimate concerns.

  • Growing businesses don’t feel they have the money to spare on a financial advisor or business coach. Forty-six percent of your peers cite money as the key reason they don’t reach out for help.
  • Trusting outsiders (38%), having difficulty finding experts (29%) and lack of time (27%) round out the top four reasons that many hesitate to reach out.

4 in 10 business owners trust software more than people

As noted above, trusting outside experts is a difficult proposition for small business owners. However, for many of them, that only applies to human experts.

According to research, 40% believe that using a software program would be more reliable than an employee when managing the ins and outs of their everyday business. In general, this means that software is more trusted by small business owners across all generations than people. And, over 85% of those surveyed cited QuickBooks as the most trusted software brand for small business owners.

Plus, software doesn’t take sick days, or need a back-up when it goes on vacation. This makes it easier on the small business owner to keep things running smoothly when it comes to integrating accounting procedures into their everyday business.

There’s also the pesky notion of having confidence in your own abilities. Fifty-seven percent of small business owners with revenue of $750k or more annually are more confident about maintaining their business than their smaller revenue-generating compatriots.

It’s not easy, but you don’t have to go it alone

If you’re finding yourself questioning your business acumen, or spending sleepless nights staring at the ceiling with your accounting ledger stuck in your head, don’t worry! This research has shown us a few things that are important to keep in mind: help is good and it’s okay to seek it out.

The Small Business Administration offers information on its website that covers all of the issues mentioned in this article, including business growth and managing your finances. There’s also a robust learning center, with access to classes and workshops. Plus, SCORE is the SBA’s non-profit organization that can connect you with a mentor, or let you know about local workshops in your area or online.

If your bookkeeping is what keeps you up nights, QuickBooks Live gives you access to a virtual bookkeeper on your schedule. Easy access to real help will get you back to growing your business with the confidence that your books are right.

Don’t forget that most business owners around you have dealt with the same issues and emotions as you. There is solidarity in shared experiences, and you should leverage that when looking for ways to confidently build and grow your business into the successful endeavor you know it can be.

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Megan Sullivan is a writer with experience in the advertising and digital media space. Read more