From marketing, targeting and retaining customers to staying up-to-date and finding and recruiting the right talent, small business owners face a variety of challenges while trying to be successful in their industries.

Patricia Krausman of the University of Ken­tucky’s Small Bus­­iness Develop­ment Center in Eliza­bethtown said most businesses describe issues such as identifying, hiring and retaining quality employees.

“One of the single biggest challenges today is the employment issue,” she said.

Krausman said unemployment rates are low, which is good, but in relation to small businesses, that gives them a challenge in finding quality labor.

“You hear that in large businesses as well, but sometimes people forget that small businesses are competing just the same, and they perhaps can’t offer the same benefits or things that are growing their business,” she said. “So finding that balance in determining what you can offer to an employee is a real challenge sometimes for small businesses.”

Another challenge Krausman mentioned is new technology and small businesses ensuring they are relevant and are connecting with their customers electronically.

Small Business Expo was part of Wednesday’s Hardin County Chamber of Commerce monthly meeting at Pritchard Community Center in Elizabethtown.

For Joe Harmon of 911 Express Tech in Radcliff, which he opened in 1997, technology is his business.

“Over a period of time, you have to be able to accumulate your knowledge and be diversified,’’ he said. “You have to stay up-to-date; keep your ear to the ground. It’s a constant renewing of your information. You have to stay one step ahead of what is out there because when the phone rings you need to be able to answer that question.”

Teresa Bennett, who co-owns Lady Lu Curves Boutique in Eliza­bethtown with her daughter, Erica Covell, said meeting the needs of customers and getting their name out are some of the challenges they’ve faced since opening.

The two opened the Lady Lu Curves Boutique storefront in Elizabethtown seven weeks ago. Prior to that, the two had a mobile boutique for a year, setting up at Cecilia Days, Rineyville Days and other festivals.

When they found their customer base wanted to try on items more, Bennett said they decided to move to a storefront, accommodating their customer’s wants.

They also accommodate women of all sizes, carrying small through 3X.

“Our logo is it is not about the size you wear it is about how you wear your size,” she said.

For new entrepreneurs, Harmon recommended starting small and testing the market. He, like Krausman, said it’s important to come up with a business plan.

“And get as much information as you can from other experienced business owners,” he said.

Krausman also stressed the importance of a marketing feasibility plan and careful assessment of competition before launching a new business, as well as the importance of working capital, marketing, promotion and advertising. She said many businesses fail to account for branding and message distribution in initial business plans and budgeting.

Mary Alford can be reached at 270-505-1741 or malford@thenewsenterprise.com.

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