For any small-business owner, there comes a time when you feel like your business has stopped moving forward and the business is just going through the motions.
This is where many businesses either leap forward into a new cycle of opportunity and growth, or wither and die. This can happen either through boredom and lack of motivation, or perhaps just an inability to know how to progress the business into a new phase of growth and opportunity.
As a small-business owner, it was more than likely your entrepreneurial spirit – combined with a passion for a particular product or service – that enabled your small business to grow from an idea into the money-making small business it is now, with its own identity and branding.
Harnessing and rekindling your passion is the primary key to generating a new level of growth. Often it will take a period of being away from the business to allow the spark to be reignited. Once you have that renewed spark, there are various ways and means of harnessing potential growth. Not all of these will apply to your small business; however, I’m sure something here will spark an idea.
When you initially set up your business your location would have been carefully thought about and analysed for its strengths and weaknesses.
Times change – you need to be ﬂexible in terms of being able to relocate to where the customers are. Perhaps your retail centre has become run-down and the new shopping mall across town is now the cool place to hang out for your target market. If this is the case, no amount of marketing can replicate the move to a new shopping centre.
Perhaps other circumstances have changed in your present location; while these changes may have been out of your control, moving to a better location is something that you can control.
Often businesses that sell a specialised product are limited in terms of being able to either up-sell or cross-sell other product lines to existing customers. If your product line is no longer selling the way it has in the past, reinvention is needed, even if it’s a new way of selling or a new angle to get customers interested. Just take a look at the way fast-food chains constantly bring out new limited-edition products to keep you coming back.
The message is clear – doing nothing is a recipe for failure.
Perhaps your products are still popular and will sell well, but it’s your store that needs a makeover.
Picture yourself outside two stores selling identical products: one has a cool logo and shopfront and the other looks tacky and dated. Which shop would you enter ﬁrst? Customers walking past your store need a reason to not just turn their head, but to follow their feet into your store.
From there, product placement, pricing and customer service take over, but none of those things matter unless you can get the customers through the door.
Did you know that only 27% of small businesses in Australia have an online social-media presence? This presents an amazing opportunity for the savvy small-business owner, especially when you take into account the fact that 11.8 million Australians have a Facebook account and spend, on average, six hours a week on Facebook alone.
Engage a social-media expert to see if your business can be tailored to take advantage of the fact that not all of your competitors are online.
Facebook can be used in so many ways, from oﬀering exclusive deals, advertising your menu online to just introducing new products to the general public. You’ll often get a great sense of the likely success via this medium as well, before investing too much of your much-needed cashﬂow. Of course, there have also been some social media horror stories where inappropriate materials or comments were posted online for the whole world to see, so you must take an interest and not leave the whole social-media aspect to one employee or social-media specialist.
Another way to spruce up your business is to collaborate with nearby businesses to form joint marketing material or to conduct cross-promotions and advertising. This can either be a suburbwide exercise or tailored to your speciﬁc location.
Consider the number of ﬂyers you see on the bench at most coﬀee shops. Customers standing around waiting for their coﬀees are sitting ducks for a well-targeted business message, perhaps in the form of a simple ﬂyer or business card in an easy-to-see location.
Whether any of these ideas apply to you depends on the nature of your business and location. The message is clear – doing nothing is a recipe for failure.
Brainstorm with your staﬀ, or perhaps even your suppliers and a few well-known and trusted customers, and I can guarantee that something will come up.
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but a new paint scheme or a bit more air in the tyres may be all the spark your small business needs to start ﬁring on all cylinders again.
John Corias, Senior Partner, m.a.s accountants