The day to day running and managing a business faces a lot of challenges and competition. Any person that has started their own business can empathise why 50 per cent of all businesses fail within five years. You may be a seasoned and stable company or a new business that has started successfully, but lately, your business growth and profits have slowed down, and your motivation is taking a turn down south. In this article, I want to explore why that is and what can we do to turn things around quickly. To start here are some essential questions to ask yourself and your team:
1. Where are you standing still?
A vital factor to look at is to take an audit on how static your business has been. A product or service that was innovative and exciting a few years ago may be experiencing a plateau in the marketplace which could explain why your growth and profits are slipping.
Take a look at your offerings. Is it time to add some new products or services to your mix? Can you improve your existing ones adding additional value or is it that you have exhausted a particular market and it's time to source a new market source?
In the beginning, you most likely kept a close hard look at the competition when you started your business, but things can change quickly. Check out your competitors and see what they are offering, what their customers are saying about them and how they are placed in the market.
A competitor analysis can include anything from running a search of their domain name on a free tool SEM Rush to discovering what their customers are saying about them on their review sites or checking out their online community. How do you compare? Can you identify any gaps? Are you leading the way or falling behind? It's time to take stock.
2. Do you need to reorganise?
If you have employees, are you using their strengths and abilities to their full potential? It may be time to shuffle some people around and try them out in different positions. Make sure you have been setting concrete and achievable goals for your business and communicating them effectively to your team.
What is your online reputation looking like at the moment? Take a look and see if your business or products have received reviews that your business may have missed. Negative or mediocre reviews can cut into your sales without you realising it. Check in with Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google, and Facebook. If there are negative reviews, don't spend too much time trying to fight them or have them taken down. Instead, acknowledge them, express your gratitude for the feedback, focus on the shortcomings your customers identify and make improvements. If you have enthusiastic fans among your customers, ask them to write an excellent review on the same site to help balance out the negative ones. Read more here on reputation management and how to respond to online customer reviews.
3. What has worked in the past?
Did you have a previous campaign that worked well to boost your business? Perhaps you ran a social media competition or other promotion or had a great response to a particular sales letter. Look at actions that you can repeat and consistently execute again.
You can also review the content you have produced in the past to see if there are ways to repackage and reuse it. An active blog can be a great source of material to repurpose in other formats. You can take the same ideas presented as a blog post and offer them as an infographic, a slide deck, or a video. You can also repurpose a series of blog posts into an online course or an e-book to help raise your profile and remind people of your expertise in a particular subject area.
4. Do you have a strong social media presence?
Social media is critical to promoting any business today. Make sure you have a presence on the essential social media sites. You probably have a Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, but are you updating them and using them to communicate with and engage with your followers?
Have you kept up with other social media platforms? Instagram and Pinterest have become influential social media presences, as has YouTube. If you are not familiar with them, it's time to do a little homework. You may also want to hire a social media expert to help you identify these opportunities and help you with your strategy to ensure that you are using all the sites as effectively as possible.
5. Are you engaging with current and potential customers?
One of the most critical aspects of social media is the ability to interact first hand with your clients, potential customers, and even your critics. If you have social media accounts that are all one-way, where you put out announcements and advertising, see how you can make them more interactive.
If you have a blog, Facebook page, or YouTube channel that allow comments, have you kept up with those comments and responded to them? Remember, no response is still a response. A simple comment can go along way to acknowledging someone and build a relationship with them. Anyone who takes the time to offer suggestions or thoughtful critiques may be a source of valuable information about how your products, services, and advertising are received by your target audiences. Cultivating these folks is worthwhile. Customers who feel noticed and appreciated can become great evangelists with word of mouth advertising! It is powerful and with more awareness can be better harnessed.
6. Do you have a plan?
Creating a roadmap for your next twelve months will go along way to helping you stay on track and get to your destination faster and with ease.
It doesn't matter if you are a one-man powerhouse or a multiple man business. Take a moment to stop, review and evaluate what is working well and what is costing you time, money and customers.
The purpose of strategic planning is to allow you the opportunity to get clear on where you are, where you want to be and develop a plan to achieve them. This involves stepping back from your day-to-day operations and asking where your business is headed and where your priorities should be.
It can not be stressed enough how critical planning is for any business to succeed. It does not have to be a long drawn out process that takes months. More a summary reconnecting with why you exist, what are your goals, how you will achieve them, what will be done to meet the expectations and add value to your customers and how you will sustain a competitive advantage in the marketplace?
One of the best ways to do this is away from your office and any distractions. You can do this with your team, a colleague, partner or friend. Give yourself time and space to think, dream and explore the opportunities that are available for you. It is powerful.
It is without question today's business world is fast-paced, and the changes and new directions can feel overwhelming. It's tempting to keep your head down and keep doing what you're doing and has worked in the past. But if you have a sense that your business is slowing, it's time to look around and make sure that you are not just keeping up with the competition. Finding new ways to review, reconnect, regroup, reenergise and refocus your attention in a meaningful way that matters will be the difference that will make a difference.
If you feel like you need someone to ignite the fire in your belly and support you through a simple and effective strategic process to get you started, never hesitate to reach out.