Most new business owners expect to devote a lot of time and effort to getting their business established. Then, they plan to relax as the business "runs itself" and continues to grow. This was an achievable goal in the past. It isn't today. Aggressive, innovative competitors and rapidly changing technology make it impossible to establish a system today that will automatically meet all future challenges.
Develop a "change is normal" attitude. Realize you're never going to reach the point where you know your business so well you can stop learning. Just when you think you've mastered the operation of your business something will change and disrupt your growth.
Make it a habit to look for changes that may be a developing trend. Then try to determine how this trend may impact the growth of your business. You can develop the best solution to a problem when you catch it early and take your time to carefully work out your response. There's nothing more difficult than trying to make good long term business decisions at the same time you're trying to rescue rapidly falling sales.
#1. Take Defensive Action In Advance - Diversify
Diversification is your best defense against the impact of change. This applies in 2 major areas:
- The products and/or services you offer
- Your marketing activities
The primary reason you want to offer a variety of related products or services to your customers is to maximize your income. But there's a second reason. Changing market conditions or an aggressive competitor can cause sales for a product or service to decline, often suddenly. The impact won't be devastating if a variety of other products and services continue to produce business for you.
The same applies to your marketing. You'll reach more prospects and generate more sales by using a variety of marketing methods instead of just one or two. But it also protects you from suddenly losing a substantial volume of business because one of your marketing methods stopped producing results.
Tip: Keep looking for and testing new marketing tools and old ones you haven't tried yet.
#2. Look For Opportunity Hidden In Change
The challenge of change often forces you do discover a hidden opportunity you can exploit to gain more business. I recently spoke with the owner of a sporting goods store near a fast growing city in the Southeast. Two years ago a large retail chain started building a new superstore nearby. The store included a large sporting goods department. Jeff wasn't going to be able to compete with their prices and stay in business.
Instead he set up a used sporting equipment section in his store and started advertising to buy and sell used equipment. Today most of Jeff's income is generated by sales of used equipment. His total income has almost doubled and he's even planning to expand his used equipment business to the Internet. It's an opportunity Jeff wouldn't have recognized without the challenge of competition from that superstore.
The biggest challenge to business success today is change. Develop the habit of looking for the early signs that something is changing and confront it before you're losing business. Take defensive action against the impact of change by diversifying the number of products and/or services you offer and using a variety of different marketing methods. When you decide how to respond to a challenge, look for a hidden opportunity to increase business. You may find a source of additional sales and profits you previously overlooked.