After being in business for a while it’s easy to shift into autopilot and get stuck in a rut when managing your business’s products, services and marketing efforts. Owners often find themselves performing tasks a certain way for no other reason than that’s how they’ve always done it. Use these three tips to help keep your business from getting stuck or, if it already has, to get unstuck:
Measure the health of your business
When it comes to gauging the health of your business, there are the obvious indicators like revenue streams and a growing or stagnant membership base. While it’s important to track your business and customer activities with detailed reports, there are less obvious things you should also pay attention to.
- Are you number one in online search results?
- Are customers sending you referrals?
- Is the media writing about you?
- Are you having to turn customers away?
- Are customers writing about how you’ve changed their lives?
The more you continue to stay plugged-in to what’s going on in and outside of your business and to what your customers are doing and saying, the better you’ll be able to accurately assess the health of your business.
Evaluate your competitive edge
The best way to stay competitive is to reevaluate your business each quarter by doing what marketers call a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats). If you’re not familiar with this technique, chances are you’re already doing at least some of these things without even realizing it.
Use this overview to identify the types of questions you should be asking about your business, the competition and the marketplace.
By turning as many of your weaknesses into strengths as you can and using your perceived threats as opportunities to offer or do something new, you’ll be able to keep your business competitive.
Expand when you’re ready
Before making a decision to purchase a new building or add square footage to an existing location, ask yourself the following questions:
Can I afford to grow?
Making the decision to expand can have a hefty price tag attached. Consider your options and compare them by listing the pros and cons. Ask yourself:
- What kind of loan can I qualify for?
- Is adding debt to a credit card the most cost-effective option in the long run?
- Do I have investors? If so, what are their terms for repayment and are they acceptable?
- Would it be wise to take on a business partner to help fund and build my business?
- Will expanding put my home and family at a high level of risk?
Will adding more space attract new customers?
This may seem like a no-brainer, but more space isn’t helpful when it’s empty space. Expanding can be inconvenient to your customers, and building a new place requires a little more marketing on your part. Ask yourself:
- What am I hoping to achieve with more space?
- Will expanding be inconvenient to my customers? How can I minimize this?
- What kind of additional marketing will I need to do?
- Am I set up to run an additional location? For example, can people use their gift cards and passes seamlessly at either location?
Do I have the staff to support an increase in square footage?
A business needs people to run it, but just anyone won’t do. List the requirements you’re looking for and hire people that fit into your existing culture.
- How many employees will I need to accommodate the expansion?
- What areas of expertise are required?
- Will I have to offer insurance or have an increase in liability?
- Do I need to provide any kind of training on equipment or processes?
- Is payroll set up to handle additional staff?
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Asking the right questions and making the right kind of changes will help keep your business moving forward. Once you’ve accurately evaluated your position, you can then decide if and what kind of expansion is the smart choice for your business.
Have additional solutions on getting out of a rut? Tell us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more tips on how to manage your business, visit our resources page.
This blog post is the ninth in our series opening and managing a business. Read the other posts in our series here.