To survive and thrive in business is a never-ending challenge. Even when sales are growing and business booming, threats of a downturn, or new and aggressive competitors, or a shift in demand are the realities of life. Things will change, and that change can crush the business you worked so hard to build. Recognize the threat and get ready now. Be proactive. Consider the following tips to protect yourself now and into the future.
- Know what is happening within your area of responsibility. Nothing scares me more than speaking with a business owner or high-level manager whose stock response to critical questions is “I don’t know about that. You have to ask (fill in the name of a trusted employee here.) He/she handles all of that.” If you are in charge, you need to know. Don’t lead staff members into temptation.
- Stay connected to the market. What sold yesterday and sells today is tomorrow’s trash. Talk to your customers. Ask them what they like and don’t like. Talk with your vendors; they know what your competitors are buying.
- Develop a network of trusted peers. Find power partners. These are individuals who are in complimentary fields, but are not competitors. They may be serving the same customers, or may be in fields or have expertise totally different from you. Meet regularly to talk business and compare notes. Gain from each others’ skills and expertise.
- Know the competition. Read their ads, google them online, take a look at their website. Where are they dominant? How will you compete on these issues, or will you choose to cede these to them, and compete on other fronts? What do they not offer, that customers want? What is your strategic response for business survival? Your competitors are constantly innovating. You cannot afford to be left behind.
- Be creative. Find, do or offer something that is different, helpful, fun, or memorable, in a good way. There is an ocean of noise out there; get noticed.
Take everything you know about current markets, products, customers and competitors. Look ahead. What will be changing, and in what direction? What do you need to do, not only to survive, but to thrive? Take action now and move forward strategically. Do what it takes to survive and thrive in business today.