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Discussion Post: What’s The Biggest Problem Facing Your Business?

This is  the first discussion post on The Big Red Tomato Company and we’d really value your input.

Being a business owner is very much like navigating a ship through an ice field. Some of the icebergs in the icefield can be seen floating on the surface, but what can’t be seen is the amount and size of the  iceberg floating below the surface, waiting to rip holes in the side of your ship and sink it.

Whilst business owners don’t generally operate in an icefield, they will recognise that some problems floating in front of them are so large (for example the state of the economy) that they can attempt to steer away from them by taking action (for example lowering prices, having a sale etc)

But what business can’t alwasys see are the problems lurking just below the surface. Sometimes they know they are there like the competition, sometimes they “appear” like a new entrant to the market. So,  just as ships have developed sophisticated radar to guide them through the icefield, your business need to develop insight and plan for all sorts of eventualities.

Over to you

If you’re a business owner, I’d really appreciate you taking the time to share in the comments section below how you manage if you could share some of the problems facing your business and how you get around them in the comments section below.

What information do you use?

What tools do you use?

All business face problems, but right now, what’s the biggest problem facing your business?

What metrics or indicators, financial or non financial do you use to identify problems or opportunities before they aris


  • Adrian Swinscoe said:

    Hi Matthew,
    I must say that one thing that I have learned over the last year is not to assume who someone knows or assume that you know who can help you, particularly if you are trying to build something new and ‘bootstrap’ something. Combine this with being willing to share your ideas and where you would like help or who you would like to meet then gives the people the opportunity to help you.

    In short, what I have learnt is that playing your cards close to your chest doesn’t always serve you.


  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Adrian, thanks for the comment. This reminds me of the old adage that a ‘assume makes and ass [out of] u [and] me’. I think what you describe is pretty much the same online and offline and essentially a spirit of openness embraced since the dawn of the internet. Great point.

  • Alex said:

    Hey Matthew,

    Your analogy is quite fitting and I think for me the biggest challenge facing me as my business starts to (rapidly) expand is finding the time to manage everything.
    Ironically – I have set aside some time next week (for example) to learn everything I can about outsourcing – because I quite simply cannot take everything on that I need to, and at this crucial time in the life of my business, I NEED to have all elements firing on all cyclinders.

    Another thing I have noticed is that the iceberg we know as time – a constant and prevalent float-sum in the sea of business has a much larger base to it than I first anticipated.
    I steer my boat taking the iceberg into account but it is, without fail ALWAYS bigger than I anticipated, and I then waste precious time and resources repairing the damage (thus perpetuating the fact I have no bloody time to do anything)

    Great concept, and I look forward to seeing other replies and where you go with it.

    I know how to resolve this though Matthew, I just haven’t been able to source a working flux capacitor.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    Hi Alex, firstly congratulations on finding your solution – good luck with purchasing one though ! 🙂

    This weekend I thought of a post idea, which pretty much sums up what you describe here called the power of 2. Which is to say, that to start a business it typically takes twice as much money as you thought it would, twice as long as you expected to become cash flow positive and twice as many problems appear along the way than you expected.

    One recommendation that I can give you is to sort out what you’re going to use the outsourcer for, before you hire them.

  • Brandon@Make Money Blogging said:

    My biggest issue was ambition. At first I was really ambitious. Then I got a bit lazy. Then I got ambitious again. It’s a problem keeping the motivation sometimes, even if you are already a success and want to keep that going.

    It’s really important to have a life outside your business though. That helps you keep the motivation going.

  • Matthew Needham said:

    That’s a really good point Brandon, maintaining the motivation after a set back is even more difficult. I think it’s always important to maintain a sense of purpose. in your endeavours, whether online or offline. If you have a really strong sense of purpose then it’s much harder to keep the motivation. Having a life outside of work certainly helps with that, as does a strong family life. Thanks for the comment!