The biggest challenge for small business owners is getting new clients, which could be attributed to the lack of external support they take on, according to my new survey, carried out in the second half of 2016.

The results, which were backed-up by an in-depth focus group, took in the views of small business owners, most of whom had less than five staff. Results revealed that working alone is common, with nearly 60% of those surveyed saying that they work from home. When asked about the biggest challenge faced by small business owners, getting clients came up top, as was cited by 46% of respondents.

There is a link between going it alone and doing everything, and the biggest challenge, getting new business.

One of the recurring themes coming out of the survey and focus group is that small business owners find themselves in a catch-22 situation. They want to be lean, which is why many opt to work from home, and often do everything themselves. There also seems to be a view from business owners that they can only justify getting support – whether that be through marketing, employing more staff or getting a coach – if they achieve a certain level of growth.

However, the danger of doing everything themselves is that the growth never comes, as small business owners don’t seek support, and therefore can’t focus on the important elements of their role, such as business development. The reality is, leaders of successful bigger businesses invest in their business, and in themselves. Small business owners must do the same.

I’d like to also share a sobering statistic for small business owners: according to the Office for National Statistics, 10% of small businesses fail within the first year. This rises to nearly 60% in the first five years.

However, only 5% fail because the business isn’t viable. From my experience, the rest simply find it too much to cope with.To avoid this trap, I would urge small businesses to get the support they truly need.

For a small business every penny counts. But doing everything themselves and going it alone can be a false economy. Business growth is limited, because business owners are over-stretched, struggling to prioritise and frequently spending their time on the wrong activity. Quite simply, businesses owners must get support. They must play to their strengths, and delegate the areas that aren’t within their expertise.”