Several contributing factors can contribute when a business experiences a consistent downturn in revenue or just plateaus with limited growth. For example, a global pandemic, new competition, loss of significant customers, weak management, turnover of key employees, or marketing off-target might be the reason. These can all have a bearing on the growth and sustainability of a small business.
A typical approach might be for an owner to think that proper planning, execution of important plan elements, and seeking to minimize the effects of any possible external threats should lessen the downward cycle and/or create some measure of growth. When these measures don’t produce positive results, simply working longer hours and creating more stress are not the answers. If a business knows its products and services still benefit customers and solve their problems, perhaps it is time to reinvent the business.
One of Albert Einstein’s famous quotes is, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” How true this can be for a small business! When business is down or stagnant, perhaps the answer is to look for a different approach. Maybe, it’s product or service improvements or innovations, new marketing campaigns, or a change in pricing. The alternative to doing the same thing repeatedly is to take a creative approach to the business.
Thinking out of the box at times can produce a breakthrough change that creates new opportunities. It is this type of thinking that is needed to reinvent a business. Below are a few ideas to consider.
Enhanced Online Presence – Traditional, established businesses can certainly get stuck in the past. At the same time, competitors gain traction with a ubiquitous online presence and use of e-commerce to the fullest extent possible. The global pandemic has caused most individuals to isolate themselves to a certain degree and forced businesses, whether business-to-consumer or business-to-business, to operate differently than in the past. Part of the new operating normal is for every business to seek expanded opportunities through the Internet.
Operational Change – One only has to look at practically any business during the current pandemic to see operational changes. Although most companies have been forced to make small to moderate changes, other companies have transformed their operations. Many of these changes and transformations will make these businesses more profitable and stronger for the future. These changes ranging from large global companies to local companies can be used as examples for any business where change is inevitable and beneficial.
Pricing – Businesses can get in a rut with exact pricing for all products and services. Pricing, however, does not have to remain static. There can be discount pricing for sales, of course, but there can also be discount pricing for quantity purchases, second item purchases, off-hour or off-day sales. There can be premium pricing for extended warranties and services, add-on products and services, or personalized services on the flip side. While business operations do not have to remain the same, pricing can and should vary also. Creative thinking in this area can add to sales revenue.
Underserved Markets – It’s easier said than done. Still, great opportunities await a small business that can find an underserved market, discover the needs of that market, and then determine how it can best satisfy the needs of that particular market. A small business can maintain its core target market while, at the same time, based on internal strengths and resources, expand into other markets, creating a unique market niche.
Name and Signage Change – Yes, a name and signage change might be in order. Does the business’s name and signage allow customers to know what products and services the company provides? Maybe loyal customers know, but what about new customers? Does the business sell computer software or medical supplies? Perhaps, a new name, signage, and accompanying tagline would make it easier for prospective customers to understand precisely what the business sells.
Rather than simply keeping up with the competition, a small business can develop its own unique market and branding. If a company continues doing what it has done in the past, it will probably continue to get the same results – or even less. Be innovative, be ready for change, try something different and keep trying until something new works better than the old. The future of a business might be “reinvention.”