Your sales are down. Customer traffic is slow. Your employees have lost their enthusiasm. Many small businesses come to a crossroads where their business strategy is no longer working and they need to change their strategic direction to keep their doors open.
Often the slowdown is from an external factor, such as a lagging economy, a product or service becoming obsolete because of new technology or a new competitor opening up down the street. No matter the reason, when what you’ve been doing is no longer working, it’s time to reinvent your business.
These four steps will help you master your business's reinvention:
1. Determine the reason for the slowdown. Many small businesses will launch a marketing campaign or offer discounts when going through a slowdown. But if you're not fixing what is actually broken, then you'll only have a short-term fix instead of long-term success. Brainstorm with your staff about reasons for the current situation. “Talk to the salespeople first and then work your way back to strategy. Salespeople are the ones who get the phones hung up on them and the doors slammed in their faces,” says Mark Stevens, author of "Your Marketing Sucks.”
After you have a list of ideas, begin to research into each one to determine if it's the main reason or a contributing factor. Use sales data against changes in your industry, new competitor’s products and other influences to help pinpoint what's holding you back. Narrow down the list to no more than three reasons contributing to the problems.
2. Create a strategy to overcome the obstacle. Spend some time with the list of obstacles and begin brainstorming about ways you can reinvent your business to meet your challenges. If your industry has become saturated with competing companies or products, consider ways you can develop a niche.
With the quick changes in technology these days, you may have found your product is no longer as relevant as it once was. Brainstorm ways you can use your knowledge and expertise that you gained with your previous offerings to create something customers want or need. Mitch Goldstone faced the dilemma with his photo development business when digital cameras became the mainstay in photography. “The first years were based on developing photos. Now I digitize pictures worldwide. I transformed a local 1,200-square-foot retail photo center into a 6,000-square-foot corporate headquarters that scans upwards of 250,000 pictures every day and reinvented my company to ScanMyPhotos.com," Goldstone says. "The turnaround worked.”
If one of your obstacles is finding new customers, think about ways you can appeal to a new customer demographic. If you own a sports bar, you may want to focus on ways to appeal your offerings to families, or women, to increase revenue. While sometimes a marketing campaign aimed at a specific audience can work, you may have to add a new product or service as part of the reinvention of your strategic direction.
3. Test the new direction. Once you've decided your strategic direction for reinventing your business, create a roll out plan that will allow you to test your strategy before committing on a large scale. Many companies find that their first idea isn't always the solution. You may want to start with one new product offering based on your strategy to see how well it's received, or do a social media campaign focused on your new niche. After the trial run, evaluate your results and make any tweaks necessary before rolling out your reinvented business on a full scale.
4. Spread the word. Make sure to get the word out about your new offerings or focus. The best reinvention in the world won’t be successful if no one knows about it.
Read more articles on reinventing your business.
Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a journalist with over 17 years professional writing experience. Jennifer blogs via Contently.com.
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