“Do not judge me by my success. Judge me by how many times I fell down and got back
up again.” Nelson Mandela
It hasn’t happened all at once.
In fact it has been gradually slipping over time. You can’t pinpoint when it started and it didn’t seem like a big deal at first. After all, all businesses go through ups and downs, don’t they?
But it has gotten progressively and noticeably worse. You are still doing okay, but you are approaching that point where it won’t be okay. And while your business is slipping, others in your industry are actually doing well, better than you are.
You keep an eye on them and can’t discern what they are doing that you aren’t. You have similar products and services and your clients are the same. In fact, some of your clients do business with both you and some of your competition.
So, you lie awake at night, playing over and over again what it is that you are not doing or doing wrong.
It might be the forest for the trees thing where you are too close to the situation or are not being critical enough about your approach. But if that is so, you really have no idea as to why things are slipping and more importantly, what to do about it.
Here are some suggestions on what you can do and get a peaceful night’s sleep.
Pay attention to your customer’s needs
Understand your customers and be aware of their needs. Planning is useless if you lose touch with them and fail to identify what they really need.
You need to understand your customers’ buying behaviors and get feedback from them on how you are doing, By doing so, you will learn:
• Are they satisfied with your current products or services?
• Are they asking for more features and benefits then you currently provide?
• Do they still love your products and / or services?
Finding out the answers to these questions will help you improve and potentially change your business strategies.
Do you have poor working conditions?
One of the most important and sometimes overlooked factors in business problems or failures are poor working conditions. Employees must be happy and comfortable in their working areas. Otherwise it will hinder productivity which, in turn, impacts sales performance..
Does your product or service has no Unique Value Proposition
What sets you apart from your competition? If you cannot answer that question, how do you expect customers to?
You need to make sure that your have a clear point of difference from the competition and that it is of value to current and prospective customers and clients.
Do you have a mismanagement or leadership failure
Your business decisions should be in line with the vision of the company. Do you even have a vision? Do your employees know and follow it?
One wrong decision could cause the business to spiral downward and fail. A lot of business fail because of poor management. Improper delegation, poor employee management, financial mishaps, unhealthy culture, not being receptive to change, not expecting the unexpected; are some examples of poor leadership. If you have any or all of these, fix them now.
Scaling when you’re not yet ready
If a business is doing great it is time to assess what needs to be done. If you move too quickly, it may not be the right time or move to do so..
Only scale up when you’re ready and your growth is continuing and sustainable. .
Your Marketing and Sales are not aligned
Sales and Marketing should be together on every move. Sales depends on Marketing efforts and strategies. A solid Marketing strategy that focuses on monthly targets and qualified leads will drive sales.
No organic web traffic to support sales
Your company’s digital presence plays a huge role in the modern age of doing business. Web traffic can supply a steady stream of leads or potential customers. Understand where to get unique, organic traffic that is built on relationships so that you can move those relationships into sales.
Not paying attention to the competitors
A competitor might have just launched a new product with great features that tops all current competitors. And yet you had no idea this was happening. You need to know how your competition moves at all times so that you can take immediate action and develop strategies that can keep your business competitive in the marketplace.
Poorly trained staff
Resources and training should ensure your staff’s competency and effectiveness. Customer Service representatives without adequate training won‘t be able to communicate with the customers properly.
Provide time and resources for proper training in all areas of your business.
Disregarding customer loyalty
Customer relationships should be of the utmost importance. One unsatisfied customer could have a detrimental effect on your company, especially if that customer takes it out on social media. Make sure you are treating your customers well and know that they appreciate it.
” Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” Winston Churchill
So now that you know what to do, you need to get about doing the correct things to get your business back on track.
You may not be able to do it on your own. In that case there are very good and capable professionals who can help you.
There are also some who are not very good, so choose wisely. If you are not sure, talk to trusted friends and other business professionals. They can help to steer you to someone who will assist you.
Make sure that you also vet them. Ask for and check out their references. Ask probing questions about them and make sure that they are the right fit for you.
And do not select someone who will tell you what you want to hear. What you need is that person who will tell you what you need to hear. It may be uncomfortable and somewhat unpleasant, but if you don’t listen and do what is needed, you cannot expect the situation to change just because you want it to. If it was that easy, you wouldn’t have a problem in the first place.
Also remember that anyone you hire is there to help you. But in the end, it is up to you to make the necessary changes and to stick to them. No one can make you successful unless you turn the business completely over to them. Since that is probably not what you want to do, it then falls on your shoulders.
And things rarely happen overnight. You didn’t get in trouble in a day, so it will take longer than that to fix it.
You were successful before and you can be again. Never doubt yourself and your abilities. Be patient. And most of all stop losing sleep. That never helped anyone and it certainly isn’t helping you. You need to be at full strength for the work ahead.
Instead, dream about your past and coming success. Been there, done it, so I speak from experience.
“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new.” Socrates