Small businesses are often touted as the engines that help to drive an economy. It is often said however that eight out of ten businesses fail within their first year of operation which demonstrates that while starting a business is a significant achievement, maintaining one is the bigger challenge. I decided to ask local small business consultant Mark Turnquest his thoughts and what he believes is the biggest obstacle to small and medium enterprises SMEs.

“Market research is very important. I think that the main challenge that many small businesses face is that many of them fail to realize who they are actually catering to,” says Turnquest. “The customer is someone who is willing and able to buy the business’s product and services. Because many small business operators don’t know who or are unable to identify exactly who their customer is they have the wrong target market. When they have the wrong target market the people who they want to come to their business to buy their services and products aren’t going to come. I have found that market research is the number one challenge that many small businesses have.”

According to Turnquest, because many small businesses fail to identify the right target market, they ultimately fail to market their business correctly. “Because they have the wrong target market they end up with the wrong marketing plan and ultimately they waste money. When they waste money they end up with accounting issues. When you cant measure anything properly you can’t manage it properly.  At the end of the day you have to be creative when it comes to marketing.’

“Many people fail to realize that marketing is not an expense it’s an investment,” says Turnquest.

Mark Turnquest is a small business trainer/consultant and the principal of Mark A Turnquest Consulting.