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Current Nightmares of Small Business Owners and Entrepeneurs: Poll Results

small business poll, entrepreneur poll, top problems of small business, small business nightmaresI took a poll of viewers of this blog, LinkedIn and Twitter users, and others during the month of August to find out what was the number one thing keeping them up at night as small business owners and entrepreneurs.  What were their top challenges?  The results may surprise you.

The Results

Ok, so maybe it’s not that big of a surprise.  A full sales pipeline is the number one issue with small business owners and entrepreneurs with a bullet, garnering nearly 50% of the votes, and somewhat surprisingly outpacing profitability handily as the concern that drives sleepless nights.  Some thoughts below the poll.

small business poll, business owner poll, top challenges of small business

Sales and a Full Pipeline

Huge item of concern for small business owners in the current “non-recession”.  Some of this goes to the thought process of a contingent of small business chiefs.  I had more than one comment that given sufficient sales, all other problems sort of take care of themselves.  That can be dangerous thinking, as many business owners have run themselves out of business with out of control costs to support increasing sales.

Maintaining Profitability and Margins

This 29% of respondents indicates that there is downward price pressure in the current economic scene, yet perhaps this is difficult to handle amidst steady or rising raw materials and service costs.  Having said that, the numbers responding that cost management was a problem was relatively low.  Remember though, the poll was a forced choice, what is your number 1 challenge as an entrepreneur or business owner.  Obviously these are all challenges.

Managing and Affording Employees

Still significant but far less than sales as a concern was employees.  Interestingly enough this was not higher given the uncertainties of employment costs such as health care.  Given the fact that this poll was posted on LinkedIn, this could also signal that a few solopreneurs who contract employees were in the respondent list.  I outsource everything I don’t do, so I fall into this category as well.

Costs and Competition

Clearly there was overlap into the sales category with competition.  It is noteworthy that dealing with competitors, perhaps from overseas, is not a major concern for most small business owners.  This could point to their business uniqueness or their naivety regarding their value proposition.  One respondent noted that this is the least of his worries, as sooner or later they will low-price themselves out of business leaving the solid businesses still standing.

Regarding cost control, this data also suggests that many small business owners feel comfortable at sharpening their pencils when they have to and jettisoning non-essential cargo in order to keep the business ship afloat.

Respondent Comments

Some of the interesting things that came out of this survey were the comments people left, most regarding things that gave them headaches that could not be easily classified into the 5 categories in the poll.  These folks did not vote in the polls for that reason.  A couple of bullets below:

  • Company Culture – am I as a leader doing enough to foster a culture that succeeds and getting out of the way of my top people
  • Understanding of the Economy – learning how your market is dealing with the current worldwide economy as a key to decisions moving forward

Post your comments or headaches below to keep this discussion going.  What is your biggest business nightmare that causes you to lose sleep?

If you find dealing with challenges like these identified by small business owners and entrepreneurs a challenge, you are not alone.  Many business owners are forming Mastermind Groups to tap a peer group Advisory Board to deal with their most difficult decisions.  You can learn more about Mastermind Groups by visiting here or clicking on the logo below to get a complimentary video on the 4 Key Benefits of Mastermind Groups for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs.

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One increasingly occurring nightmare for business owners in the age of identity theft is Document Security.  A big part of that is secure disposal.  Learn more here!




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  1. Business Mind August 29, 2011 at 11:59 am #

    This statistics is interesting, it is not surprising that sales and a full pipeline gathered almost 50% of the vote. Small business owners, should create much effective marketing campaign to address this issue.

  2. Karl August 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm #

    No doubt a full pipeline of leads is a major concern for small business. I scratch my head watching many do the exact same thing over and over and not changing the picture of what can make them really unique. Good luck with your business mind, business mind.

  3. Business Consultants Cyprus August 31, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    Yes i guess that was not a suprice. Especialy in this time of crisis periods Sales and full pipeline is what takes most of our time and thoughts. Thanks for sharing the results

    • Karl Walinskas September 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

      You know, when this got posted on LinkedIn in a few groups, it generated a good bit of discussion. One guy brought up the fact that although a full pipeline and sales wins hands-down in a forced choice response, he’d be curious if the responses were weighted. Think of elections, like where Ronald Reagan cleaned the clock of Walter Mondale in the 80s in the electoral college, but the popular vote was a bit closer. Mondale just lost just about every state in the winner take all sweepstakes.

      Clearly all of these issues are problematic for small business, but in times of crisis, most feel that sales is the lifeblood that pulses the business, and other things may fall in line given that blood.

Reply to Karl Walinskas