With over 20 years of marketing experience, Pascal Ehrsam has helped founders and CEOs launch, accelerate, and scale their businesses. From his early days in marketing, Pascal led and managed digital strategies for large global brands such as L'Oréal and HSBC.
In a recent meet-and-greet hosted at Reap MeetUp, Pascal answered questions from the audience as he shared his thoughts and experience to help entrepreneurs set up the strategic foundation for their businesses.
What are the greatest challenges faced by businesses in today's market?
Economy Uncertainty & Declining Financing
Today, businesses are facing a difficult environment. The economy is uncertain, GDP is down in Q1 and Q2, and inflation is high. The funding is drying up for early-stage startups. The funding for early-stage startups went down 53% compared to a year ago and 33% compared to the previous quarter and access to public money/IPOs is hindered by a declining stock market - a 20 to 35% decline in 2022.
So finding investors is more complicated for organizations.
On top of that, you have the result of a very tight labor market with unemployment around 3.5%, which is extremely low, as well as a very demanding workforce. It makes hiring complicated because of the scarcity of talent and the demanding needs of those talents.
Demanding employees, remote work, and benefits are all part of the post-pandemic landscape.
Another challenge I see is the younger generation of consumers—they're extremely demanding. They want brands that offer value- but are also high quality and affordable.
Generation Y is more concerned with the environment than previous generations, no longer loyal to brands, and cares about sustainability.
So to appeal to today's demanding consumers, you have to tick all the right boxes.
What are the biggest obstacles that entrepreneurs themselves have to overcome?
Business environment aside, being an entrepreneur comes with a few challenges. Here are 4 external and 4 personal obstacles that founders will have to overcome.
What advice can you share to help entrepreneurs overcome these challenges?
Building a sound business starts with a sound foundation.
So whether you are trying to assess product-market fit, scale your customer base, build new partnerships, recruit team members, or pitch journalists and investors, there’s only one way to deal with this challenge: Do your research. You must understand the dynamics of your market in great detail, craft a value proposition that is unique and appealing, and offer realistic plans for how you will get traction and become profitable.
When it comes to managing your own time and the output from your team, you need to be organized, assess what’s important vs. what’s urgent, and learn how to delegate.
Start by setting up goals for yourself - for the quarter, the month, the week, and up to every day of the week. Monitor - and celebrate! - progress, re-prioritize as you go, and take the time to gather learnings of what worked and what didn’t. In the process, learn to trust and delegate tasks to your team members, your partners, and anyone who is contributing to the outcome. Focus on your own strengths and let others take care of the rest.
Entrepreneurship is a sport and an endurance-building exercise. Never lose track of this. It is a marathon, not a sprint - although it has a few sprints built into it.
So the most important skill to nurture to overcome all the obstacles is to build your confidence as you go. Believe in your skills and your vision. Remind yourself the reasons you undertook that journey, and communicate the "why" for your business to employees, customers, partners, journalists, and investors at every opportunity. Seek support and advice from other entrepreneurs to get you through the tough times. Be honest with yourself and willing to learn from setbacks - and importantly, celebrate small and big successes!
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