From sales to operations to human resources, without goals our small businesses would be in the gutter. The differences between reaching our goals, making progress or placing things on the back burner is discovering what’s feasible and sustainable.

There’s no denying the importance of business goals, but an impossible goal is a waste of energy and resources for the busy life of a small business owner. A SMART goal is one that is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based.

Amidst the daily demands of running your business, we’ve identified five obstacles and simple ideas to help you overcome them. These tips will set into motion growth, profitability and positive change for your organization:

Obstacle: Poor cash flow projections.
Solution: Get a handle on your liquidity with a clear understanding of your sales cycle and vendor payments. Create a schedule that considers payroll, debt payments, overhead and seasonal spikes. Make a list of expected cash sources and be realistic. A client scorecard is helpful to identify those who you can count on to pay on time and those who are habitually late on their invoice.

Obstacle: Manual payment processing.
Solution: When it comes to a “back office” function that eats away at your profits, it’s time to ditch manual payment processing. It’s not only time consuming, but you’re probably paying someone to do it. Electronic payment processing, particularly ACH, speeds up collection time and eliminates delays. ACH payments can be automated for recurring billing, and unlike credit cards, ACH is an alternative to interchange fees.

Obstacle: Friendly fraud.
Solution: If you are a merchant not able to process EMV transactions (chip cards), you could fall victim to “friendly fraud.” Since October 2015, the liability for fraudulent transactions shifted to either the issuer or the merchant who does not support EMV. Small businesses are losing claims to fraudsters who dispute the charges they knowingly made. This advance technology gives you and your customers protection with an encrypted code to ensure each transaction is unique. Also, investing in mobile payments, mobile wallet and contactless payments helps you compete.

Obstacle: Poor customer retention.
Solution: Compared to a new customer, a loyal customer is often four times more likely to make a purchase, forgive a bad experience, make a referral or try a new offering, according to research. Don’t just track revenue. Examine the marketing channels and allocate more dollars to encourage repeat visits to your small business.

Obstacle: Bad assumptions.
Solution: New projects die on the vine when we feel threatened by them. When reflect on all the obstacles our business faces, it’s easy to put up barriers and resort to what we believe are tried-and-true solutions. Find a mentor that you can trust. Share ideas on reducing cost and finding savings. Sometimes an objective third party can help push you in the right direction.

Small Business & Entrepreneurship

At Inspire Federal Credit Union, we make it a point to move your business forward. We appreciate the opportunity to hear about your business, your vision and challenges. For banking, business checking, merchant services and more, call Inspire today at (215) 788-5270, extension 308.