Running a small business means taking on a lot of responsibility — and a pretty big learning curve. Making mistakes can hurt your business, but not learning from them can mean the difference between a problem and an outright catastrophe.

Problems can arise in any part of business so it’s important to focus on individual areas as well as taking in the big picture. Here we’ve identified a number of common problems when it comes to overall inventory management. These mistakes can be costly, but learning how to recover from them or avoid them altogether can help to prevent them from breaking the bank.

  • Employees Lacking Knowledge — Inventory management is about more than knowing what’s on the shelves. It’s also about understanding inventory flow, turn-around times from vendors, and being able to use past inventory levels to plan for the future. Emphasize training for employees already on the job who exhibit a talent in the warehouse, as well as seeking out truly qualified candidates for open positions.
  • Using the Wrong Software — Since inventory management is a multi-faceted component of business success, you need software tools that can get the job done. That means inventory software that works alongside retail sales analysis software so that levels can be better tracked. Integrating a forecasting tool for small business will also help keep inventory — and sales — in check.
  • Automation — Some companies shy away from automation in the belief that it’s not as reliable as manual input. This may have been the case at the dawn of automation, but today’s programs are vital tools every company needs. Explore automated software and labelling systems that can track inventory from the moment it enters your warehouse until it’s bought through any of your sales channels.

These problems with inventory management are simple but powerful. Understanding how they impact your business and what you can do to avoid them will help more than just your bottom line. Inventory management is also the key to overall business efficiency, forecasting, marketing, and even employee retention.