IS YOUR BUSINESS FOCUSED ON GROWTH?
I recently conducted a survey among 350 businesses regarding their practices with the intended purpose of understanding challenges confronting them. While those surveyed were 80% plus small businesses–defined as less than $10 million in revenue–responses were received from medium to large organizations as well.
When asked the most significant challenge confronting their business, nearly 74% of the respondents identified growth as the most pressing issue, followed by marketing/branding (32%) and increased competition (16%). Surprisingly, these finished ahead pricing, controlling costs, et. al.
When the onion is peeled back even further, respondents had an interest in learning more about marketing strategy, followed by understanding marketing trends, lead generation and branding.
Think about it this way, in an ever-increasing environment and particularly for small businesses, growth in a competitive market trumps all–specifically, 47% of those surveyed indicated lack of growth, defined as revenue, over the last five years. In other words, nearly half experienced revenue stagnation or declines.
With this as a backdrop, here are tips to help you fine-tune your business strategy and refocus your business efforts on growth:
1. Revisit Business Vision and Mission Statements
When was the last time you actually reviewed it and determined its relevancy? Many times, we come up with statements and the assumption is they’re still relevant–despite the fact they may have been created years before.
The vision is longer-term, aspiring and provides direction while the mission is your operational mantra. In other words, what are you attempting to accomplish daily? Both statements should be short–under ten words.
2. Competitive Landscape
Even as a small business (and medium or large business for that matter), the competitive landscape affects growth in many levels. For example:
- Are there new products and services being offered?
- Has pricing change thus, stealing customers by undercutting you? Conversely, is there a perceived price/value relationship when compared to your business?
- Has the number of competitors increased and, if so, to what extent are they targeting your customers?
3. Product/Service Relevancy
It’s easy to become complacent after an initial business launch or after experiencing years of growth. The challenge is to remain relevant, fresh, contemporary and–unique. Due to refusing to reinvent and/or modify, consumers may consider sampling because with the advent of technology, information is now at their fingertips and sampling has been made easier.
4. Target Audience Understanding
Do you really understand your audience, changing expectations and needs? If so, that’s an excellent first step; if not, challenge yourself to understand what’s changing and why. According to many studies, it’s more cost efficient to retain a customer than acquiring new ones.
5. Balanced Communication Strategies
It’s been widely reported recently that 47% of small businesses don’t have online capabilities for their customers. In other words, web-based capabilities are non-existent. Think about this, consumers are more mobile and technology-enabled but small businesses are not operationally prepared to communicate using online capabilities.
Basic questions to consider:
- Why don’t you have a website?
- Is your business leveraging online capabilities
- Is social media a part of your communications plan?
- What other tools are you using to effectively communicate products and services?
Finally, if you have a strategic plan, when was the last time you reviewed, revised and/or fine-tuned it for relevancy?
The bottom line is this, growth will always be a challenge and how prepared are you to address it head on? Your plan should be transparent, fluid and flexible to market needs.
If you don’t have one, the question is why not?