Solving Small Business Problems – How to Use the RAP Technique

When solving small business problems, it is easy to engage in the finger pointing game. Unfortunately, this removes the focus from finding a quick resolution and may create low morale in the person or persons identified as responsible for the business “predicament”.

The approach should be to fully understand the issues, address them so that you can learn from them and grow.

Savvy business owners know better than to consider their issues or challenges in isolation without relating them to their industry at large and most importantly, economic triggers that may be playing contributing roles.

What is RAP©?

RAP© stands for

  • Review – What are the specific pain points or issues you are facing?
  • Assign – Prioritize each issue and assign accountability. You may not be able to address them all at once
  • Plan – Map out how each issue will be solved, along with a timeline and required resources (manpower and budget)

What Key Economic Trends Do We See?- Solving Small Business Problems

The two years of lockdown due to the pandemic have seen small businesses struggling to adapt. Just when they thought the worse was over, they came out of the lockdown to find a different reality created by trends in economic uncertainty. These economic triggers have created a ripple effect for all businesses including small business.

Consequently, most businesses now experience problems related to one of two types:

  • Economic triggers
  • Business specific

Understand Problems Related to Economic Triggers When Solving Small Business Problems

1. Increase in Interest Rates by Banks

This has created a rising cost of supplies with accompanying inflation. The reality is that businesses have had to increase prices of their goods and services.  Unfortunately, some cash strapped loyal customers have either had to leave or cut back on their purchases.  

2. Supply Chain and Inventory Issues

The pandemic caused a disruption to global supply chains. With the lifting of the lockdown, demand for goods skyrocketed.

In addition, already stressed global supply chains are still struggling to clear up the backlog with bottlenecks at every turn, no matter the mode of transportation of goods they choose.

The implication is that manufacturers and distributors of goods cannot produce or supply as much as they did before the pandemic without the necessary raw materials and parts.

Could this be the source of one of the business problems you face?

A shortage of truck drivers and a hike in freight rates has caused higher prices for most products

3. Finding Quality Labor and Employee Retention – Solutions to Small Business Problems

Solving Small Business Problems
Hiring Process

Again, the pandemic disrupted the traditional in-office work mode. Some workers were laid off. While productivity did not decrease, but rather increased in some companies.

Many workers have become accustomed to working from home and are unwilling to return to work in the office.

Many of these workers have chosen to quit their jobs when pressured to return to the office. Furthermore, re-called laid-off workers have also refused to return.

Consequently, many companies struggle with labor shortages.

4. Creating a Website and Online Presence for Customer Acquisition

Before the pandemic, many small businesses operated with a store front but had to shut this down with the advent of Covid.

Many did not have websites or an online presence as they had never relied on these methods for customer acquisition.  

The main challenge for many businesses was finding the right external outsource to get the job done for them properly and honestly.

Unfortunately, there were a few unscrupulous elements that took advantage of the naivety of some business owners to provide work that did not meet their needs or expectations.

Self-Inflicted Business Chaos in Management and Operations

Self-inflicted business chaos is churn created by the business owner because of failure to make important decisions.

1. Capital and Cash Flow Issues

Many small business owners wear many hats. Some try to maintain their bookkeeping by themselves.

A limited understanding of the requirements of cash flow management that ensures there is enough cash reserves to cover business bills and generate profits will eventually result in chaos.

Solving Small Business Problems
Marketing Strategy

The accountant that files your taxes will charge you to have them properly re-done by his bookkeeper!

This is one of the simplest problems to resolve. Hire a part-time bookkeeper

2. Issues with Marketing

It is understandable that some business owners choose to perform their marketing efforts by themselves to reduce costs – especially when they are small.

However, with growth there is a need to scale up marketing with some budget dollars, and work with a marketer who understands their challenges and is willing to be creative and resourceful with their online digital marketing strategy.

3. Stress, Burnout or Depression – Your Own Worst Enemy

Being a small business owner can be draining because you wear so many “hats” on your head by filling in for various roles.

Even when the business has grown, and you have employees. you demonstrate an unwillingness to delegate or outsource in a timely manner.

This is because you are afraid the assignment given “may not be done properly”. This can result in stress from fear and worry.  

Solving Small Business Problems
Document Management System

Learning to delegate and outsource will relieve you of most of this stress

Frequent feelings of energy depletion, general lethargy, or exhaustion, accompanied by a lack of attention to detail may indicate burnout or depression.

Resolution is to take time off to re-charge

4. Lack of a Document Management System

One of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your business is to create documented standards for how core processes are performed throughout the company and operate a document filing framework.

SOPs describe the details of  the exact steps to execute a particular task. It should be both simple and detailed enough that anyone should be able to review the procedure and do that task.

The reality is that businesses and entrepreneurs who don’t create a documented system usually spend lots of time looking for missing documents training and supervising employees.

They seem to forget that the reason an employee was brought into the business was to help it grow yet spend valuable time re-training or conducting a quality check of their work.

This does not grow the business but drains its profits in a time-wasting exercise.  

Conclusion – Finding Solutions to Small Business Problems

Solving small business problems should never be conducted without understanding external economic trends that could be contributing factors.

The true business problem will be a combination of these economic triggers and business specific problems. The RAP(c) technique is a coordinated approach to solving problems.

Now that you understand this, which business problems are you wanting to solve? Contact us to assist at

References

Top 11 Small Business Challenges and How to Overcome Them (2022) https://localiq.com/blog/small-business-challenges/

7 Small Business Challenges Owners Will Face in 2023 (2022) https://www.wix.com/blog/2022/06/small-business-challenges/

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