“If it’s not broken, don’t fix it,” is a familiar saying. But just because your small business seems to be getting by in a challenging economy doesn’t mean there’s no room for improvement. Flat sales aren’t always entirely out of your control.
But does your business need a full-scale makeover to get things going? Or are some simple tweaks enough to spur activity?
A good place to start is by taking a fresh look at your business plan—something every entrepreneur should do regularly in good times and bad. Regular reviews and updates keep your original start-up research in step with both internal and external changes. After doing some research you may well find that some key assumptions about your customers have changed, or that demographic trends haven’t panned out as planned.
You may also see the need to address aspects of your marketing strategy. The core messages to customers may still be valid, but perhaps it’s time to adjust the wording or even freshen up your logo. Your current advertising and promotional strategy may need to be realigned to channels that show more promise, from print ads to direct mail, for example.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to grapple with these problems yourself. If you have employees, splurge on dinner or some other fun activity and give everyone a chance to unwind. This is a good time to discuss ideas to help the business, but also encourage everyone to think about things on their own and submit their thoughts and ideas to you directly. Studies have shown that group “brainstorming” sessions sometimes backfire because a handful of people tend to dominate the conversation,
Also consult with trusted advisors, friends, and colleagues. Most importantly, talk with your customers. Ask them what you could be doing better, and what changes to products or services they might like. After all, if you don’t know exactly what they want, you won’t be doing much business with them.
Don’t focus just on your business. Ask about the issues they’re dealing with, and things that have become important in serving their customers. That may give you ideas for augmenting your product or service line. And some customers may even agree to let you “test market” your makeover ideas, and provide feedback for fine-tuning your business stimulation strategy.
For more guidance on business makeovers, contact Raleigh SCORE. We provide free, confidential business mentoring and training workshops to small business owners. To schedule a free appointment with our experienced counselors, go to http://raleigh.score.org, or call us at 919-856-4739.