There are inevitably going to be times when, despite your best efforts, something goes awry with your business. The best way to deal with difficulties is to avoid them in the first place, as there are many potential pitfalls that can trip you up if you don’t take care to steer around them.

Taking action to make sure you don’t run into trouble is an essential part of being a business owner, and will save you a great deal of trouble, time and money in the long run. Having said that, it’s not possible to avoid every potential problem; however, you can have a plan in place for what to do if it does happen.

Staff Problems

Staff is the heart of your business, and you depend on them to keep everything going and help grow the business. Most often, as long as you treat them well and respect them, staff are an invaluable asset who give their best; but sometimes a staff member can let you down, cause problems, and become more of a liability than an asset.

If you run into difficulties with a member of staff, make sure you’ve not caused the problem in the first place by treating them poorly or failing in your role as a good boss. Talking to the member of staff is vital: they could be having problems at home that are affecting their work, or be under excessive stress; they may not even be aware they’re not performing at their best. Only by communicating will you get to the root of the problem and be able to rectify the situation.

Financial Problems

Very few businesses sail through their existence without running into financial difficulties of some description. Usually, it’s cash flow problems, where for example you need to pay bills or suppliers and you don’t have the means because you’re waiting to receive payments from customers.

You should have a contingency built into your budget that can help you cover these issues, but if that doesn’t cover it, then communicating with both suppliers and customers is essential. You can avoid a lot of stress by keeping debtors informed of what’s going on, and you need to encourage customers to pay up on time.

One golden rule of business is not to start blurring the lines between personal finance and the business’s money. For example, you should never borrow a couple of hundred from the business to tide you over at home; managing a shortfall in cash should be kept separate by judicious use of a credit card or short term loans from a piggybank alternative.

Putting your personal money into the business is ok if you do it officially and account for your investment, but covering a gap in cash flow by using your personal finances is another no-no. It gives you an unrealistic view of how well your business is doing and adds stress by draining your resources.

Being prepared for these common problems and the many others you may encounter is your best strategy, so if the worst does happen, you have a plan you can implement to overcome these kinds of hurdles.