How To Build Your Business In Bad Times Part 1

Build Your BusinessWith Britain in a state of unrest following the Brexit referendum result, market forecasters are predicting bad times ahead. With a huge cloud of uncertainty over the country, business leaders are waiting to see whether we head into yet another recession. The pessimists are predicting more doom and gloom in the UK whilst the optimists suggest otherwise. The bottom line here is that nobody knows what will happen.

Does this mean you’re going to sit and do nothing? You shouldn’t be – this is a time for planning, re-strategizing your business and ensuring you are doing the right things every day. If ever there was a time to take your business by the horns and lead it into a brighter future, then this is it. So what are you waiting for? Perhaps you require a few ideas to spark from? That’s exactly why this article was written…

In good times and bad, there are always businesses that survive and thrive.

With this in mind, what do they know and do that ensures they continue to grow? In fact, in bad times they usually increase market share. Are there simple, and yet effective strategies they adopt and adapt to ensure they retain the edge over the competition? Of course there are! Let’s take a look at a number of these strategies, tactics or tools. The challenge for you is to decide how this applies to your business.

As famous American author Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “this time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”

I believe this sums up business leadership. Whilst you’re driving your business towards a targeted destination, it’s important to continually survey the territory, watch out for predators, constantly enhance and develop skills, always be hunting for food (customers) and find more good people to join you. Surrounding yourself with good people is vital but that on its own is insufficient… you need to know what to do with good people.

Strategy #1 – Develop Your Team

It’s a clever leader who hires the best people and shapes them into a team. Sometimes, the success of the team is due to the blend of individuals. The success of Wales in the recent European championships or Leicester City in the 2015-16 Premier League are great examples. In general, you’re not looking for superstars…but you do need highly competent professionals who are well trained. It could be you already have the right people in respect of personality. If so, that’s great! But, have you trained them well? Can you train them better?

Strategy #2 – Encourage Ideas

Innovation is critical in any business success. Sadly, innovation is misunderstood. It doesn’t have to mean inventing a new widget etc. Innovation can simply be re-designing a process that improves efficiency, effectiveness and/or quality. With this in mind, how many projects are you currently running or testing that do this in your business? How many times are you asking the question “how can we do this better?” When are you generating ideas with your team that are exciting and worth testing? How are you rewarding your team for these ideas? Mmmmm, food for thought. A great leader understands that they don’t need to be the one with great ideas…their role is to orchestrate the atmosphere and conditions to allow this to thrive. So, what are you doing now to achieve this?

Strategy #3 – Differentiate

You can differentiate by:

  • Making your product or service better than your competitors’
  • Make your marketing/advertising better so that your business stands out more, has a clearer and more understandable message
  • Make your service/delivery better. This could be as simple as speeding up delivery or ensuring packaging is improved.
  • Make your customer service better

These are just a few ideas on how you can differentiate. You need to be 1% better at a hundred things rather than 100% better in one. With this in mind, make a list with your team of the areas you can immediately improve and areas that you wish to improve but will take time to develop.

To truly differentiate, you need to restructure your offers, products/services and distribution models. Of course, one or two of your competitors will be doing the same. The race is on to see who can differentiate faster and better. No doubt your competitors make similar claims to you in your market. So can you differentiate here? Perhaps you can find a way of offering a guarantee? Can this guarantee be big and weighty enough to become a deal maker for you? You should be investigating this closely.

No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “benchmark?” This is when you look at the good companies in your industry and take their stature and results as the level to beat. To do this you must do better. Some consider a simple strategy of one-upping them in as many areas as you can. To me, this is not providing sufficient differentiation. Isn’t is better to carve out a reputation as the best in the market in one or two areas and market this strongly? This establishes your positioning in the market rather than creating a general picture of being slightly better.

There is much food for thought here and a huge number of ACTIONABLE strategies. Action is always the key…there’s no point in having knowledge if you do not apply it.

In part 2 I will add a few more strategies to the list. Please feel free to provide feedback or contact me if you require help developing your business.

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