Running a business is always an uphill battle. From your first days setting it up with heavy paperwork and collecting capital, there is a lot of risk involved to make sure it doesn’t go under. You work yourself to the bone to make sure you are a competitor in the market, both in terms of service and advertising. You may find yourself with a decent following and customers that come by regularly. You have become a part of the neighborhood and the cash flows easily.
But is this what you really want?
When you find yourself too comfortable, this might be a sign that you are stagnating. Signs of safety might actually be signs of decay. If a larger chain comes by the neighborhood or a small but new business comes along, how sure are you that the customers will stay yours? When the regulars switch over, it is difficult to get out of that ditch. This will cost renovations, new marketing plans, and a slew of money and time-consuming effort. And if you are a small business, it will be difficult to get funding from major banks if you think you can keep up with the interest on those loans.
There are other ways to keep your business from stagnating. Even if it means looking into alternative means such as Fundbox small business loans to kick everything off.
- First things first, reassess the market.
You might not be aware of the changes that go on in the neighborhood. Are there new buildings? What are the businesses around you? What are the histories of the businesses that failed in the area? You might have had a good idea of the demographic when you first came in and were confident of catering to the right audience, but that confidence needs to be constantly renewed. You can keep your edge by checking the recent developments in the area and being up to date with the latest issues. By keeping up with the news, you can keep up with the new possible foot traffic in your neighborhood.
It is all about the needs of people, and sometimes the people change. Major institutions draw in different crowds. You don’t keep a fancy first class restaurant in the same neighborhood as broke college students. When the people around the neighborhood change, take into account what they might need from you. Don’t think about whether you can or cannot cater to the new people on the block. Whether you run a restaurant, a grocery store, or anything in between, keep in mind to diversify your services. There are chances that even though they aren’t your initial demographic that they might find their way to your store. When they do, make it worth it.
- What do you think about when you diversify your products and services?
Changing the products should not only be limited to a change in audience. There are other signs to look for when you change your products. Ride the seasonal tides, in one year there are many major holidays that call for different types of products and services. As you keep your bestsellers on hand, try adding a limited edition. If you sell cosmetics, perhaps create your own line up of must-haves for the season–shades of pink for spring and maybe nude lipsticks for fall?
It can come in the form of promos and freebies or events that may become a tradition in the long run. These can be testers and samples or excess stock from the last season. Keep the flow of your products going. Plan out your year. By changing the products, you keep the customers interested in your business as a whole; watching your business carefully waiting for a deal that might interest them.
In doing this, you don’t only create a temporary hype and increase in sales, but also a following. It doesn’t matter if you have a small business or an old business, people are always out looking for the next best thing. You just have to make sure that next best thing is you.
- Step it up and change your marketing plan.
In order to sell your products and services, do you have the proper platform for the people to know? Riding the seasonal and holiday hype is also dependent on how well you can advertise. Sometimes it is best to check where your customers are coming from. Did they hear it from a friend? Did they see your commercial? Or that ad in the phone book?
Don’t waste your time and money on advertising platforms that don’t help generate a following. Get in touch with new ways, go online or have collaborations with other businesses or student-led activities. When you know your demographic, show them why you cater to their needs. Participation in events helps show how your business fits into the overall community. If you sell baby necessities, partner up with the local hospital or set up workshops with new moms. Being active in this way shows people that you are making a long-term investment.
- Do it with a smile!
Another good investment is in the people you hire. It is hard to find new employees with an impeccable work ethic and who still look fresh. Find those people! Find people who have the same passion as you do in your given field. Passion may not be the easiest thing to measure, but in time you can observe those who just know the product as well as you do. An added bonus is if they come with fresh new ideas. Even if you aren’t open to changing the management elements of the business, having passionate people may close the gap between the traditional and the new.
What are the possible gaps that need to be bridged? It might be something as small as changing to more renewable packaging, adding posters in areas you haven’t thought of, or changing the layout of your products. People have different working habits, there might be things that come naturally to them and have been proven to be effective. It isn’t only about keeping up with what goes on outside the store. New people offer new ways of thinking.
If they don’t have the passion or innovative ideas, hard workers with the right attitude does the same wonders. Coming to work on time, making sure the job gets done are small habits that are often overlooked save you a lot of money in the long run. Even an extra smile goes a far, by building the right atmosphere between you and the customers, it helps creates a space that might be comfortable or enjoyable enough for them to want to come back.
If you are a small business, it might be best to hire students part-time to hopefully keep the atmosphere young and energetic. The same way products have to be diversified, having different ages work in the same business shows that everyone has a place.
- Expand your business!
The ultimate way to show the community that you are not stagnant is to expand. When you expand, you are making a commitment to accommodate more – more customers, more products, and more services. It is a high risk, high reward move because it implies that you are confident in your performance and are willing to go to the next level. It also establishes that you are doing well. To build up the extra capital to expand shows that you either had a good run or someone else sees the potential in your business.
When you have the funds there are multiple ways to expand your business. One option is to build more to your initial space. If you are located in a congested area, look into expanding online. It almost takes the same amount of money and effort to properly establish your brand online.
If you have more capital, you might also look into finding a new location. Distance plays a major role for businesses with common services such as restaurants. Find other locations that have a good lunch time crowd, but without the same cuisine or service style like yours.
With the reassurance that you are a business that will stay, it isn’t difficult to see where you are heading. When seeking extra capital you may opt to go to the bank or find other sources of loans. The expansion doesn’t always have to be big. It can happen slowly, but surely.
There are so many ways to keep your business fresh. A little bit of extra risk is enough to spice it up. By being aware and innovative, your business can’t help but grow. It is the natural course of action. Large companies may seem to have a fixed style but look at how they navigate through the market. It is by making themselves relevant to the people that allows them to stay in the business for so long. Long enough that they have integrated themselves into people’s daily habits. So, what are you waiting for? Go the extra mile now.
Will is the Executive Managing Editor at Feedster. Will and his team from Content HOW work with venture capital, marketing co-ops, and companies to attract and gain qualified leads.
His primary focus on developing a sales funnel for a company and finding out of the box / growth hacking style ways to convert and drive traffic.