If The Business Isn’t Growing, It’s Dying: How to Grow an Existing Business in a Challenging Environment
October 18, 2017
You’ve heard the old adage “if the business isn’t growing, it’s dying.” In today’s environment many business owners become frustrated trying to grow their business as they face rising payroll costs, economic uncertainties, and seasonal slow-downs. Here’s my advice: go back to the business basics. Many successful professional athletes go back to training camp to fine-tune their fundamental skills. If you want your business to perform like a star athlete, you need to sharpen your basic skills like a seasoned player. When you are confident in your basic business model and your perfect product your customers can tell. This makes them more confident in you. So, how do you get started?
I’ve prepared a list of 9 strategies for getting back to basics and growing a successful business in this choppy environment:
- Get Organized. If you’re a naturally disorganized person, I encourage you to set aside time to get organized or hire staff to clean up the important aspects of your business. This will free up time to focus on the issues only you can solve. The organization process involves taking time to sit back and ask what things are causing stress in life. Write a list of which areas cause you stress and determine the root cause. Is it the bill pay? How are you organizing your bills? Are they paid on time? Find ways to make your daily tasks efficient so you can meet deadlines. You can do this in the off hours if your business on the weekends. I have personally invested in a Neat Scanner. It is a pricy tool, but it is extremely helpful to organize data. Even if you are not a business owner, it is a good idea to keep all of your digital files neatly sorted and backed up somewhere else in case of emergency.
- Keep detailed records. Many seasoned business owners are “10,000 foot view” people, and often they do not understand the intricacies of their business. Keeping detailed records can help you easily spot key details for improving your business. I recommend using a database system to track where your new customers come from. The information in your database can also help you get to know your existing customer’s needs. Have you conducted any surveys? Store the survey details to track their feedback and how your services help fulfill a need. You can also track sales, profits, assets, liabilities, etc.
- Stand Out Against Your Competition. You need to identify your competition and how they function in order to stand out. Technology provides us with the ability to market a product or service online with very low overhead. Unfortunately, this also breaks open the doors known as “barriers to entry.” It lowers cost and allows more providers to flood the market with their services. Review your competition’s social media, advertisements, product descriptions, and customer feedback to find out how you will set yourself apart.
- Understand the Risks and the Rewards. There are always risks and rewards in business. Where else can you go to make unlimited sums of money? The earnings potential is unlimited, but you face the risk of losing everything you put in. I suggest reviewing your business plan and creating an equally detailed exit plan. You must decide your tolerance for losses and the terms for leaving.
- Get Creative. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Especially in today’s volatile market it is important to put yourself out there and try new things. Maybe you are missing an accessory to enhance your product. Maybe your marketing ideas need to be refreshed. Consider offering a slightly different service or reviewing your business model for flaws. You won’t find new results by repeating the same mistakes.
- Stay Focused. As I mentioned at the beginning of this list, hiring staff who can keep you organized and on track can drastically improve your business. Take time to evaluate your personal strengths and weaknesses, and consider hiring someone to take over tasks so you can focus on your talents. A few extra hours in the day can make all the difference.
- Prepare to make sacrifices. This goes hand in hand with understanding the risks and rewards to entrepreneurship. Until you own a business, you cannot fully appreciate the years of sacrifice it takes to achieve success. You will spend many long days in the office. Your friends and family may not always be on board with the amount of time you need to sacrifice. Entrepreneurship requires love, care, and nurturing every day.
- Improve Your Services. How can a Fortune 500 company be worth billions and billions of dollars, and become bankrupt? They can lose focus on their service. You cannot have a profitable business without a perfect product. Your product or service must be at the center of everything you do. You can improve your existing services by asking for feedback from customers. Do not hesitate to ask for their thoughts, or else they may just move on to the next company.
- Be consistent. There is a reason big franchises like Starbucks are so successful: they are consistent. Major brands strive to maintain a uniform customer experience in every store across the country. Consistency helps build trust because customers know they can expect the same product or service no matter what. Always remain honest and consistent, and you will build customer loyalty.
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