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Why It's Getting Harder To Run A Small Business

Written by Tim Morral
Published: 7/2/2013

A majority of surveyed small businesses report that rising customer expectations is making it more difficult to run a business than it was just five years ago.

No one ever said owning and operating a small business would be easy. But today's small business owners report that running a business is getting more difficult each year--largely because customer expectations are going through the roof.

Hard To Run a Small Business

In "Small Businesses: Then & Now", a recent survey of small businesses by Constant Contact showed that 59 percent of owners believe it's harder to operate a business now than it was five years ago due to the economy (55%), the pace of technology (49%) and more intense direct competition (40%).

However, the survey also showed that small businesses are feeling pressure from rising customer expectations. Sixty-three percent of respondents indicated that today's customers have higher expectations than they did five years ago. Specifically, small business owners reported that today's customers expect more value (71%), better customer service (48%) and more promotions, coupons or special deals (44%).

In response to rising customer expectations, many small businesses are adopting customer-centered strategies that focus on satisfying existing customers and attracting new ones. When asked to describe their primary business concerns, small businesses revealed that finding new customers (75%), finding enough time (65%) and retaining existing customers (58%) are top-of-mind issues.

The survey results underscore the importance of customer feedback for small businesses. By leveraging insights achieved through both solicited feedback (e.g. sample customer surveys) and unsolicited feedback (e.g. social media or online review sites), small business owners can more accurately evaluate consumer preferences and devise strategies designed to meet the rigorous demands of the marketplace.

If done properly, initiatives that proactively pursue customer feedback insights also communicate that the company values its customers--an important brand message at a time when customer expectations appear to be at an all-time high.

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