Two years ago John’s business was down ten-percent, but he figures that the economy was a bit slow and he would make it up the next year. Last year, John’s business was off another ten-percent. He was not very happy with the way things were going, but he figured that this year was the year to turn things around. By May, John’s business was off fifteen-percent from the prior year. His repeat business is down and so are his referrals. John is worried that he isn’t going to be able to stay in business much longer. He is angry at the economy, he is frustrated with the people he works with, and he is depressed.
Unfortunately John’s situation is not all that uncommon. We think that just because we’ve been in business for a number of years, our business should automatically continue to grow and flourish. The truth is that it takes an ongoing commitment to marketing, sales, and relationship building to not just build your business, but to maintain what you already have.
When external factors affect your business, you must make internal changes to combat those forces. Here are three steps to being more strategic in the way you run your company and manage external changes.
1. Monitor Your Numbers and Watch For Trends
It is not enough to review your financial information at the end of the year or at tax time. Each month you should spend time reviewing your financial statements. Over time, you become so intimate with them that you will spot a change or problem immediately.
You should also know what drives your business. Are your sales dependent on the number of clients you have, the number of sales calls you make, or maybe the number of presentation you give? What are the key numbers that most consistently impact your business? I call them critical drivers. Know what they are and monitor them. Many successful organizations I work with track these numbers on a daily and weekly basis.
Look for trends in your numbers. Is there a trend illustrating an increase or decrease in your critical drivers? If your drivers are moving in a positive direction you may need to act in order to maintain a good level of customer support and other post-sale issues. If the drivers are decreasing, then you may need to increase your marketing efforts or make changes where it’s necessary.
A great place to review your critical drivers is with your Master Mind Group. If you don’t have a Master Mind Group already, then you may be missing out on one of the most powerful business concepts used by successful entrepreneurs today.
2. Don’t Accept the Status Quo
I hear it all the time, “The economy is bad.” Well, so what? Are you just going to sit around and let the economy, your competition, or someone down the street dictate your success? Just because there is something going on beyond your control doesn’t mean that your business success should be totally out of your hands.
You don’t have to accept external factors as the final word on your success. Evaluate your situation. Make changes when it’s necessary. And, keep moving your business forward.
3. Look For New Opportunities
The economy changes, business changes, industries evolve, and your business should look different in ten years than it looks today. What are you doing now to make that happen?
The entire universe is continually evolving and changing. It would be crazy to think that your business could stay exactly the same. Maybe you’re using different technology to get the job done. Maybe you’re entering into different markets. Maybe you’re selling different products. There are so many opportunities for change and growth!
Constantly evaluate what you are doing. Stay educated about your industry. Look for additional ways to deliver value to your existing clients, or, new clients that you can deliver value to. If you stay focused on delivering value, you will always be ahead of the curve, and discovering new ways to grow your business.
Do these three things, and you will be on the road to Building a Better Biz!