My headline may be brutal but it’s true. My last post talked about the demise of some big High St names which have all failed in recent weeks. A primary cause of their failure was an inability to adapt their business model to the new world.
Our lives have changed. We have changed the way we shop. Some of us have changed the way we work. Many of us have reduced our visits to pubs and restaurants. We have changed the way we spend money and perhaps more than anything else we have changed the way we spend our time. So why do so many businesses continue to trade as they’ve always done?
There are probably lots of different answers. Perhaps nobody has future proofing a business in their job description. Perhaps a business is too big or cumbersome to change direction quickly. Perhaps a business is too strapped for cash to make the necessary investments. Perhaps the business lacks the creativity to find a solution. Perhaps the business owner is too busy working in the business to work on its development. Perhaps it is the fear of change
But if we don’t adapt with the times we put our businesses at risk. We need to devote some time to understanding our customers and our marketplace. We must allocate resources to business development. We might need to put some support in place to help us overcome our fears. So here are some tips for the small business owner:
- allocate some regular time to studying your market. Who are your competitors? How are they doing? What are they doing? Who are the new players in your market and what are they doing that’s innovative or different?
- talk to your customers. I don’t mean just passing the time of day I mean really talk to them. What habits are they changing? What challenges are they facing? Which of your competitors have they tried? What is it about you that keeps them coming back?
- experiment. Try out some new ideas in a small way. Maybe introduce a new service on a trial basis with some new customers. Amend your trading hours for a trial period.Try something new on social media. Try a new route to market e.g. try out an Amazon or Ebay shop.
- get some support. Think about working with a mentor or coach or a mastermind group to support you as you take a few risks and deal with your fears.
- listen. I mean really listen. What are your customers saying? What are the trade press saying? What are politicians talking about? What are the dinner party conversations about? Do these present a threat or an opportunity?
- take action. We can think a lot. We can talk all the time. We can be constantly listening. But unless we take action nothing will change!
Good luck! Business will continue to be challenging but the fittest will survive, just make sure you are the fittest!