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Running a small business is no small feat – it takes courage, resilience, and persistence – and you will experience both great highs but also tough times along the way. However, despite the fact that each business will face their own individual challenges, there are certain issues that affect all small businesses.

With Halloween now upon us, I have put together a list of some the biggest nightmares small businesses can face, and my advice on what can be done to avoid them this Autumn and beyond.

You’re an online ghost

Having an online presence is incredibly important for small businesses. Research has found that over half (54%) of consumers believed all businesses should have a website, with one in ten going as far as to say they would not use a business if they did not have one. As such, ensure you have an engaging website that attracts new and potential customers, clearly explaining your business and its offering. With the average Briton spending nearly two hours online each day on their smartphone, compared to just over an hour spent online by laptop and PC users, it is also essential that your website is optimised for mobile use.

Your customer service has been neglected

Good customer service is essential for all businesses, particularly as a recent survey found that 56% of UK customers would never use a company again after just two bad experiences, while four in five people (79%) said they would never give a company more than three chances. One of the best ways to ensure you are providing the best service possible is to ask your customers for feedback. Social channels, notably Twitter, can be used as a simple and cost-effective customer service tool for this. With consumers increasingly using social media to discuss problems with a product or service, it can be an invaluable tool to track any customer issues and respond to queries as fast as possible.

You’re overwhelmed by cost

Running a small business doesn’t have to drain your bank account. In fact, many large costs can be cut significantly by introducing smarter working practices. Choosing laptops or tablets instead of desktops for your employees is a good place to start, giving your staff the freedom to work from anywhere. Additionally, cloud based office software such as Microsoft Office 365 allow applications and data to be stored in a single location so teams can collaborate on documents, doing away with time-consuming version control. You may also consider a flexible and scalable phone tariff, such a O2’s Business Essentials. This allows you to tailor your data plan and adjust the number of handsets you have to suit your requirements at any time. These tools are relatively inexpensive allowing your business to operate in a productive yet cost-effective way.

While it is the nature of small businesses to face ups and downs, and challenges along the way, by focusing on key areas which can be problematic and taking simple yet effective steps to prevent issues arising, you can ensure your business is ready to take on the future, whether it be filled with trick or treats.

By Sarah Evans, Head of SMB Marketing at O2 Business