Are you having a setback in business?
Business has cycles, and usually moves from up to down, without any warning.
In my 17 years in business, I have personally witnessed every cycle several times. When it is down, it could be very tough, and most people may be tempted to quit.
Many businesses die at this stage because the owner failed to take action and innovate, and the longer you wait, the harder it will be to make the necessary changes that will save your business.
Most small businesses make the mistake of simply waiting and justifying to themselves that the problem is general and not particular to them.
Well, whether the problem is general or not, if you do nothing when your business is down, it may die completely but if you do something, you may just salvage the business and bounce back in a bigger way.
Like I said earlier, business moves in cycles. If you are able to bring your business back from a down cycle, you will likely be carried forward to another high point. Keeping your business steady when it is moving up, is another story and requires another set of skills but in this article, l will share with you three tips to jumpstart your business and return it to profitability.
No 1: MOVE QUICKLY
The first tip is not to waste any time, once you notice a consistent downward spiral in your business, move quickly. Don’t wait for the psychological and financial effect to set in.
If you have not been paying close attention to the business, this is the time to refocus. Simply by paying attention, you may notice the problem.
About 10 years ago, I had an ICT company in Enugu though I was based in Lagos Nigeria then.
I noticed a gradual downward spiral in revenue from sales and services. My manager at that branch tried to deflect me by reasoning that every other business was suffering the same fate at the time.
But I decided to have a closer look, and though it was tough for me, I quickly relocated temporarily to Enugu.
In doing so, I immediately uncovered the problem.
A previous customer opened a similar business right beside mine and was actually working together with one of my staff. So they kept it a secret from me while siphoning my loyal customers away.
Immediately I came back, the arrangement fell apart.
I recommend you read the business book “who moved my cheese” by Spencer Johnson.
NO 2: THE COMPETITION IS YOUR MENTOR
Maybe you run your business yourself, and yet despite all your effort, the business is going down.
Now ask yourself, is there any business like yours that is doing well around you?
If yes, then study them. What are they doing right? Don’t see the competition as your enemy, but as your friend.
A lady once approached me for consultancy. She owns a boutique, and previously, sales were great. Then suddenly everything changed. She tried every strategy she knew, and yet sales continued to drop. She even began to suspect her village people had a hand in her misfortune.
After narrating her ordeal, I asked all the standard questions and asked her to come back later. Then without her knowledge, I visited her shop and in less than an hour, I knew what the problem was.
You see, in her area, they have all these high-class fancy boutique, with air conditioning, fancy lights etc.
Every day, they bring out several mannequins, enter the shop and wait for customers.
But a new lady just opened a different kind of boutique. In front of her boutique, she placed a canopy and set up her shop like a bazaar, with so many samples in the canopy. Although I have seen this kind of display in many places, but in that neighborhood, it was not normal.
When I brought her style to the notice of my client, she actually scorned the idea of setting up her shop like that. As a high-class boutique, it was “beneath” her standard.
I had to explain to her what is known as the “herd effect”, many customers gather in the new person’s shop, because of her style of display which makes it easier to see lots of sample without feeling any pressure. The crowd at her stand made other people become curious, and feel like something special is going on there, thus any person coming into the plaza goes there first.
And the new lady, actually had good materials, so her strategy was working. Long story short, my client grudgingly applied the formula, and her business bounced back immediately.
NO 3: TRY NEW IDEAS QUICKLY
The third step is to try new ideas quickly. Whatever you learn from your competitors in the second step, apply it quickly.
Moving fast is a very important skill. You don’t have to understand how things work before applying it. When I advise young entrepreneurs, I find out that most are usually too focused on knowing why a strategy I am giving them will work. And they try to research and analyze it as much as they can.
Too much analysis is deadly to success because your brain is built in such a way as to protect you from doing anything that is tough. Tough actions are like a threat to your peace of mind, and what the brain does, is to give you 100 reasons to back away.
Although it’s trying to protect you, but you must know that no one will ever make progress in his or her comfort zone.The zone where you make progress is the danger or risk zone, and it immediately sets off a fight/flight response in your brain.
Taking action as soon as you learn something or get a valuable advice, overrides the objections that your brain will definitely come up with, and before it has time to pull you back, you will likely start seeing results, and will be motivated to keep moving forward.
For most people, this is a very difficult step, leading to constant procrastination, which is the worst enemy of progress.
This is why I encourage our members during our course, to have an accountability partner. It is a wise thing to have a mentor, a coach or at the very least an accountability partner, someone who will prevail on you to follow through with tough choices, because in the end, only those who follow through with tough choices, will find success.
No road to success is easy, no matter how wonderful it looks in the beginning. So don’t pack up your dreams yet. Use the tips above to jump-start your business.
So have you experienced any major setback in your business before? How did you overcome it? Please share your thoughts below.
Engr Emma Okoro