Today's post is by Evelyn Tate.
For almost all small businesses, consistency is key: consistency of service, quality, and even the number of orders coming in. But there comes a time in the lives of all small businesses when things start to slow down. Perhaps the ‘honeymoon’ period is coming to an end and the real day-to-day realities are starting to sink in. When this happens, both enquiries and sales can take a nosedive, and the business is said to be in a bit of a slump. If this is happening to you, fear not, there are a few things you can do to break out of your small business slump and get back into fighting fit form. Let’s take a look at a handful of things that may help.
Get back to basics
When you started your business, you must have had a business plan and a mission statement. Do you know where it is now? Find it (in a drawer somewhere or deep in your computer’s documents folder), then refresh your own memory on exactly why you started your business. Did you want to help people? Get rich quick? Provide a quality service? Whatever the reason, going back to the drawing board – quite literally – will help realign your targeting systems, and give you the drive you need to push your business out of its low ebb.
Take control of your finances
One aspect that can be the cause of a slump is lack of control over finances. Rather than counting the millions of dollars you imagined you’d be making, you may find yourself counting bills instead. But don’t worry, that’s a natural part of running a small business. In order to bring the life back, you need to take control of your finances once again. This could be by either doing a full audit of your income and outgoings, or by hiring an accountant to do it for you. Being in total control of your business’ money will give you a sense of power and direction – a crucial element of success.
Revisit your marketing and advertising strategy
How much advertising do you do? If the answer is not much, then it’s no surprise you’re in a slump. Some may have you believe in the ‘build it and they will come’ technique, but that’s rarely effective in business. Instead you need to take action to drum up business: try online advertising like Google Adwords, take an ad out in a local paper, sponsor a sporting event, make a TV commercial. Whatever it takes to do something different and raise awareness, it’ll be worth it. And it doesn’t matter what your business sector is either. For example, if you run a website that lets consumers compare pensions, you could sponsor a sports day for local children. That way, parents will see your advertisements at a time when they may be considering a pension. Your business will get a boost and you’ll be making elderly people feel better – it really is a win-win!
Make a ‘to-do’ list for the rest of the year
Small businesses live and die based on their objectives. If you don’t have any, you’re likely destined to simply float along, not really getting bigger, but not getting smaller. If you really want to take your business to the next level, you need a target. Draft a to-do list of objectives for the end of this year: gain X number of new customers, take out X number of advertisements, launch X new products. Use this list as a motivational force and your business’ success will follow suit.
De-clutter your workplace, and your mind
This may not seem like an important aspect of business, but your workplace has a big effect on your state of mind. This is especially true for companies which are based at home. If your desk and general working area are cluttered and a mess, so too will your business be. Relieving stress is also a key aspect in refocusing your efforts on your business. If it’s been months or years since your last vacation, take a break! Time off from working on your business may actually give you the skills and ideas you need to break it out of its slump and take it into the future with you at the helm.