Expert Answers to Biz Questions
Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.
5 Ways of Breathing New Life Into Your Business
Running your own business can often be, to put it mildly, a difficult undertaking. There is seemingly no end to the stresses and challenges facing entrepreneurs today. Few people would argue that finding success in today's business world is a very different proposition than in times gone past. There are a number of reasons for this, but what it ultimately comes down to is the fact that our society is in a constant state of flux. Therefore, the way that we approach all aspects of our lives is subject to change as we grow and get older.
If a business doesn't make any effort to move with the times, they will quickly find themselves becoming tired and irrelevant. People today are generally much more technologically literate than previous generations, and this has made them less forgiving of businesses who seem distinctly outdated.
It is the ultimate hope of any business owner that their business reaches a point where it becomes self-sustaining, where it is able to generate revenue with only minimal intervention from the owner. But if a business is ever to reach that point, it is up to the owner to ensure that it remains relevant long enough for it to happen. If the management of a business isn't taking the initiative in ensuring that it remains relevant, it is all but inevitable that it will slide into obscurity.
The good news is that keeping your business current isn't at all difficult. As long as you don't neglect the objective and keep paying attention to the current and emerging business trends, you should have no trouble. For any business that feels that they have lost their way, the following guide will help to get you started in rejuvenating and revitalising your business.
Find Out What Customers Like
Before you set about dismantling and reassembling the different aspects of your business, it will help to speak to your customers and clients to get a clearer picture of what your customers think is and isn’t working. The more information you can gather from them, the more informed the decisions that you ultimately make will be. Feedback is one of the most powerful tools at the disposal of any business owner, but to use it effectively, you will need to ensure that you are collecting and analysing it in the right way.
There are many ways that you can go about getting feedback from your customers. The most obvious would be to simply ask them directly. However, if you ask broad and open-ended questions, such as “What do you like about the business?” you will get lots of broad answers, which are generally harder to turn into specific and actionable ideas.
If you are a business owner who has been running their business out of the same location from the very beginning, you may well feel a strong emotional attachment to it. In fact, you have likely already poured a considerable amount of your heart and soul into making this space as close to perfect as it can be for you professionally. Under such conditions, it is perfectly understandable to be hesitant about making any dramatic changes to your current setup.
However, while these attachments might be natural, they can easily get in the way of progress if you allow them to paralyse your decision making. It is much better to embrace the notion of change and to view it as an opportunity to grow and develop. Instead of focusing on what you will be leaving behind, focus on the opportunity this provides you to try new things.
Whether it’s altering the physical space that you work in or introducing new policies and procedures in response to customer feedback, you should maintain an open mind. The more you are willing to sacrifice in the interests of your business, the more options you will have throughout the process.
Whether you operate a retail store, or you and your team work together in an office, renovating the space around you is a great way of revitalising your business. This doesn’t only refresh the physical space around you, it can have a number of beneficial knock-on effects for you and everyone else who works with you. For example, if you embrace a design aesthetic that emphasises bright colours and an upbeat tone, you can create an environment that feels more open and relaxed.
Renovations can be as subtle or as expensive as you like; it all depends on what you ultimately want to achieve. While it is important, as we mentioned earlier, to be prepared to drop any aspect of your current business setup that is holding you back, you equally need to avoid falling into the trap of making alterations just for the sake of it. If your store or office only requires a few minor adjustments to achieve the look you want, don’t waste time and money trying to go beyond this.
One of the more common reasons that businesses put off carrying out renovations, even though doing so could bring them considerable benefits, is because they are worried about the potential lost revenue and business from having to close the premises down. This doesn’t have to be the case, however.
Have a look at these Smart Space temporary buildings, which can be deployed in a wide range of potential scenarios. These include temporary structures which can provide temporary retail space. For example, Pret-A-Manger closed one of their stores, so it could undergo a refit. While the store was closed to the public, a temporary coffee lounge was set up outside. If you take a look at the linked article above, you will note that the interior of this temporary structure is just as stylish and well-designed as the interior of a permanent structure would be.
Similarly, you can easily find temporary buildings to host office workers while their usual place of work is being renovated. These temporary commercial buildings can be fitted with wired internet connections, phone lines, air conditioning, heating, and just about any other utility that you might want to incorporate.
Finding out what your customers like is a useful exercise but finding out how the market itself feels is an even more powerful tool. When you are seeking customer feedback, there is an unavoidable bias amongst the people that you talk to, namely that they like your business. While their feedback is valuable, it is just as valuable, perhaps even more so, to understand what the people who don’t use your business think of you.
Understanding why people are staying away from your business or taking their custom to a rival entity, will help you in working out how to crack the last corners of the market that you have yet to win over. Comprehensive market research will consider the entirety of the market, rather than just the segment that patronises your business.
As with all marketing decisions, your available budget will have a significant impact on the options that are open to you. If you can afford to really splash out on your market research, hiring a professional data analytics company to help you gather and interpret useful data will be money well spent. It is hard to overstate just how powerful data can be when it is used to its maximum efficiency.
Create an Action Plan
Once you have gathered all the necessary feedback and identified some key areas to focus your efforts on, you should then finalise your intentions in the form of an action plan. An action plan is, as you may have guessed, a detailed outline of what action you intend to take. When devising an action plan, it is helpful to start with a broad and vague statement of intent. This might be something like “I am going to re-fit my shop and make sure that it is easier to navigate.”
Once you have defined your overall objective, you can then assess your options for achieving it. As you get a clearer idea in your mind of what you are going to do, update your plan until it consists of a set of specific steps. With this in hand, you can devise a schedule of when work is to be completed. This will allow you to make arrangements if you are going to need to find some other premises temporarily.
If you are a retail store, your customers will greatly appreciate being given specific dates that your premises will be closed. If you will be temporarily relocating your business, make sure that you advertise this to your regular customers beforehand.
It is all too easy for a business to stagnate and to stop growing. Most business owners are always mindful of signs that their business isn’t growing financially, but far fewer pay attention to whether their business is growing with the market. Revitalising your business doesn’t necessarily have to involve any grand or expensive gestures. In fact, the most effective methods will be the ones that make the biggest impact with the smallest difference.
Copyright 1995-2019, Idea Cafe Inc. Downloads are for personal use only, not for resale to others, and may not be reprinted in any form without written permission from Idea Cafe Inc.
DISCLAIMER: We hope whatever you find on this site is helpful, but be cautioned that it may not apply to your own situation, or be totally current at any given time. Idea Cafe Inc. and all of its current and past experts, sponsors, advertisers, agents, contractors and advisors disclaim all warranties with regard to anything found anywhere on this family of websites, quoted from, or sent from Idea Cafe. and its related sites, publications and companies. We also take no responsibility for comments published by others on these pages. TRADEMARKS: The following are Registered Trademarks or Servicemarks of DevStart, Inc.: Idea Cafe®, Online Coffee Break®, The Small Business Gathering Place®, Take out Info®, Biz Bar & Grill®, Complaint-O-Meter®, A Fun Approach to Serious Business, CyberSchmooz, and BizCafe.
DISCLAIMER: We hope whatever you find on this site is helpful, but be cautioned that it may not apply to your own situation, or be totally current at any given time. Idea Cafe Inc. and all of its current and past experts, sponsors, advertisers, agents, contractors and advisors disclaim all warranties with regard to anything found anywhere on this family of websites, quoted from, or sent from Idea Cafe. and its related sites, publications and companies. We also take no responsibility for comments published by others on these pages.
TRADEMARKS: The following are Registered Trademarks or Servicemarks of DevStart, Inc.: Idea Cafe®, Online Coffee Break®, The Small Business Gathering Place®, Take out Info®, Biz Bar & Grill®, Complaint-O-Meter®, A Fun Approach to Serious Business, CyberSchmooz, and BizCafe.