It’s hard to believe that the international reality TV series, Survivor, is about to embark on its 30th season. For those unfamiliar with this popular television series, the show brings up to 20 contestants into the wilderness to compete for cash and prizes. The contestants must brave the elements, build alliances with others, and overcome unexpected challenges and twists.
Though clearly not as extreme, the concept of Survivor is a lot like owning and operating a small company in today’s highly competitive business environment. Today’s business owners must navigate a host of obstacles in the coming year, including:
- Going social. Technology has changed the way businesses communicate with their customers and prospects. Business owners will need to know how to utilize social, email, and online marketing to stay in touch with their customers, manage their brand reputation, and cost-effectively reach new prospects and markets. Those who can keep up with the technological curve will have a competitive advantage.
- Obtaining financing. Having access to credit has been an ongoing challenge for business owners and may continue in 2015. This is especially true for newer and less established businesses. As such, it’s important that business owners work with banks that are dedicated to small business lending, including SBA loans.
- Protecting data. The growing sophistication of cyber attacks will be an ongoing and serious concern for businesses in 2015 and beyond. Companies will need to dedicate resources to ensuring they have the systems and procedures in place to protect their business and their customers.
- Managing health care. Changes in health care laws will be one of the biggest challenges that smaller businesses will face in the coming year. Companies must balance cost containment with the benefit of having quality insurance to attract and retain top talent.
- Maximizing time. Running a business has never been a 9-to-5 job nor will it continue to be. Business owners will need to find cost-effective ways to outsource the administrative tasks involved with running a business to focus on revenue-generating activities. This includes outsourcing time-consuming functions, such as payroll processing.
Though these challenges are difficult, business owners have a valuable advantage over Survivor contestants (beyond being fully clothed): they can plan for them and form alliances with organizations that can help solve them, such as a strong financial institution. If a business owner is not getting that level of cooperation and understanding with their business bank, it may be time for a change. Or as they say in Survivor-land — time to “vote them off the island.”
Vince Liuzzi serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Banking Officer at DNB First.