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How to acquire new customers is the top concern for most small businesses, survey shows

Posted by Celene Robert

December 29, 2021

According to a recent ZenBusiness survey, getting new customers is the No. 1 challenge of some 50% of new microbusiness owners when they start out.

Below are the top challenges faced by microbusiness owners when they first began their firms, as cited by respondents to the survey. We've included tips for overcoming many of these hurdles, some of which were provided by ZenBusiness founder and CEO Ross Buhrdorf in an interview with the “Small Business Radio Show.” 

The issues that small business owners cited as difficult to navigate were:

1. Getting customers … 50% of respondents

Finding customers when you’re not a big brand is quite challenging. 

It’s vital that when beginning your business, you "use 100% of your time, energy, and funds to find and know your customer,” said Buhrdorf. “This is critical for surviving your first year.”

2. Sales/business development … 41% of respondents

Customer acquisition costs can be steep if you don't pick the right marketing channel and strategy. 

“You can’t fool your customers, so the sooner you figure out if they are going to buy your product or service, the better,” Buhrdorf said. In addition, diversifying your customer base is vital for your business growth, he added.

2. Securing funding … 41% of respondents

Business owners may need to take out loans or find investors to purchase equipment, hire staff, build a brand, develop a customer base and so on. A challenge for smaller businesses is finding investors willing to take advantage of the company’s opportunities as they arise. 

To improve your business loan odds, be sure you clearly understand how to obtain a loan from a bank. When traditional banks say no, you can turn to nontraditional lenders

3. Filing taxes (state or federal) ... 40% of respondents

Clearly, many microbusiness owners feel overwhelmed about filing taxes accurately and on time. Outsourcing tax services can help you stay up to date with changing tax laws and enables you to file taxes on time with maximum savings. 

4. Legal requirements …  39% of respondents

Although most microbusiness owners are confident in their ability to handle finances and growth owners, nearly 2 out of 5 feel they need additional help meeting their company’s legal requirements. Hiring and terminating employees, fundraising and many other business tasks can have legal implications that may necessitate an attorney’s services.

5. Site development, maintenance ...  34% of respondents

Maintaining an updated business website helps businesses build their brand and attract new customers early, but about one-third of microbusiness owners find meeting this obligation to be a challenge. Not every small business owner has time to manage their site or knowledge of how to optimize their website for SEO. 

Nevertheless, developing a strong site helps businesses to generate more revenue during their inaugural year. “ZenBusiness customers who created a website after signing up are earning $15,000 more than those that don’t yet have a website,” said Buhrdorf.

5. Accounting/financial bookkeeping ... 34% of respondents

About 1 in 3 microbusiness owners cite fulfilling accounting and finance obligations to be a challenge to navigate when they first start their business.

Many business owners find success by outsourcing these responsibilities and save money in the process by avoiding the need to hire in-house staff.


Celene Robert
Celene Robert

Celene heads up the marketing at Escalon. Passionate about helping companies grow their business, she spends her days finding new ways to bring essential business services to startups, SMBs, and growth-minded companies. Based in the PNW, she’s the proud owner of 8 pairs of Birkenstocks and a sassy, cuddly cat.

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