Use challenges as an opportunity to learn, evolve and reinvent your business.
As a new year comes into view, it is normal to reflect on the one gone by. Hopefully 2019 was a good year for you, however for most businesses this proved to be quite a challenging year.
As you start planning for 2020, you’re probably asking yourself a few questions, such as:
• How do I ensure I have a better year than what I had in 2019?
• How do I gain more clients?
• How do I improve my competitiveness?
• How do I maintain or improve my income in a tough economic business environment?
• How do I become even more efficient so that I can make more profit?
These are all critical questions, and the answers can help shape your plans for coming year…
1. How do I ensure that 2020 is a better year?
List all the things that went well and worked for the business, plus all the business’s achievements in the past year. For instance, perhaps you received really good feedback from your clients regarding your quick turnaround time. You need to examine and identify what made you achieve those results. This is what you’ll carry over to the new year to build on and make it an even better year.
Similarly, you need to write down the things that didn’t go well, and the things you had set out to achieve but didn’t. Then turn your thoughts to the lessons learnt by not achieving some goals. This introspection is important so that we may continue learning and growing our capabilities as a business. This also gives us an opportunity to see what we need to leave behind and should not carry over in the new year.
2. How do I gain more clients?
There is always an opportunity in every tough situation; as an entrepreneur I would suggest you turnaround this tough time and start asking ‘’what new opportunities has this economic climate created in my industry?’’ For example, if you’re running an accounting bookkeeping business and less people are purchasing your service, you could repackage your services by providing budget management services that helps clients contain their costs instead of just offering standard bookkeeping services. Perhaps there is an opportunity to diversify your service and product offering to speak to the current needs of your market. This may lead to building a new client base or even penetrating the current client base you already have more.
It is also important to not cut your marketing and sales budget during tough times. This is the best time to ramp up your marketing initiatives and improve your market presence so that, when the economy picks up again, you are already in the presence of your potential clients. If your business has slowed down, use this time for increased marketing of your services or products and implement smart sales strategies.
3. How do I improve my competitiveness?
To improve your competitiveness, you have to know and understand what your business does really well and to keep improving on that. It is crucial to also communicate this clearly to your market so that they are aware of it. Constantly understanding the needs of your customers and selling products or services that speak directly to their needs will also improve your business significantly. Every product or service you sell must be driven by the specific needs of your customers. This is a good time to speak to your customers, ask them what they feel you did particularly well and also find out what they believe you can improve on.
As a small business you have an advantage in comparison to big businesses, as more businesses are looking for agility in their service providers and want to know that they can receive services that speak to their specific needs. Therefore, it places small businesses in an advantageous position in comparison to their corporate counterparts.
4. How do I maintain or improve my income in a tough economic business environment?
Maintaining income means you need to ensure that you keep the same standard and customer service that you have been providing to your clients. When the customer service is maintained, and clients are happy, they are likely to continue doing business with you. A good system to invest in during this time is a Customer Relations Management (CRM) system that will assist with managing clients and ensure that they are satisfied with the products and services that receive from your business.
This is definitely a time where every business needs to pay close attention to the systems and processes they have in their business, and to ensure that they are implemented consistently so that the customer service is constantly maintained and improved.
5. How do I become even more efficient so that I can make more profit?
In order to improve your profitability, start off by developing your strategy for the new year. Once you know what the focus areas will be, write down all the resources (financial and non-financial) that you are going to need in order to implement this strategy. Then identify the resources you currently have, but do not need to execute your strategy. The costs related to resources that you do not need should be reduced or completely removed.
It is important not to cut costs without understanding how it relates to your strategy. When operational expenses are driven by strategic objectives, you are likely to maintain efficiency whilst achieving the desired results.
Even though you may have had a tough year, there is an opportunity to make 2020 a great year by having the right strategies in your business. The outcome of every situation really depends on your perception of it. If you are want to have a great year, you need to start looking at all the challenges differently, look at them as an opportunity to learn, evolve and reinvent your business.
This article first appeared in the Dec/Jan issue of Your Business Magazine. Read your free copy here.