Most businesses never live long enough to click glasses for their fifth anniversary. Now that’s quite scary, knowing that no business owner starts up thinking the business will fail in a few years. The struggle for the life of your business is real. Don’t let your business be one of these numbers. Here are eight steps to help you swim against the tide, and keep your head above waters in all stormy weather.
Know Your Competition.
Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve got new competition. Your biggest competition is no longer who you think it is. Your biggest competition is the NOISE. Noise is everything else that is struggling for your customer’s attention- picking the kids up from school at 4:00pm, buying a new pack of diapers for Ezinne, the traffic situation in Ajah. These are all knocking at the door, fighting hard to get a place on your customers mind.
You’ve got to punch through the noise to get the customers attention. If you don’t have their attention, they don’t see you. If they don’t see you, they don’t hear you. If they don’t see or hear you, they will not give you their money. Money follows attention. Whoever gets the most attention ends up with the money.
Get Rid Of Obscurity
You need to conquer obscurity. Get in their faces and position yourself as an expert in your field. Obscurity is the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant. Your business must not be obscure. Your market will not buy from you if they do not know you or perceive your brand as important. You have to make use of every avenue available and relevant to your brand, to position yourself in the mind of the market. Think of social media as an opportunity to get in front of people, to raise awareness for your business and establish yourself as an expert in what you do.
Activate Action Mode
You don’t have the money, the money is in the marketplace and you need to go get it. Get off your butt and into the market. Attend networking events, make sales calls, meet with prospective customers, make use of every opportunity to meet and talk to your prospects. Your business will not sell itself, it is your number one responsibility to do that. Work at the desk, behind your computer, and when the time comes, get up and go. Go where your customers are, have meetings to introduce your product, go to places where you can find a large number of your customers and talk about your product or service. Never sit still, always be moving towards the direction of your customers- online and offline.
Dominate Your Space
You need to separate yourself from other businesses. What makes your business different, and better than the competition? Stop striving to compete with others, strive to dominate your market. Raise your business above the competition. Stand out from the crowd, position yourself as the best at what you do. Set yourself apart from the regulars. Leave them behind like a corporate Usain Bolt. Serve your market differently, don’t try to coy your competitors. Never be afraid to stand out. Apple became the most valuable company in the world, not by competing, but by dominating their industry. Today, Google is dominating the online sphere, they are well above their competition.
Aim For Highest Value
Stop focusing on price! Price is a myth. Companies, individuals and your customers rarely make buying decisions based on lowest price. People buy for the value they get from the product. How does your product make people feel? Does it make them happy? Help them save time? Help them save or make more money? Does your product help them appear confident? Does it improve the way they are perceived in the society? Make them appear more knowledgeable? Help them get a higher pay? Does it give them a happy home? Does it make them more appealing to others, does your product or service make your customers feel good about themselves? These are the questions you should ask yourself. Stop saying “I want my product to be the cheapest in the market’.
Now don’t get me wrong, if the value your customer gets is less than the cost of your product, then you’re equally heading for the rocks. Aim to be the highest value provider, not the lowest cost provider. I don’t care if you’re selling akara, vintage clothes, or luxury cars. People need to believe the value they will get from your product is far greater than the amount they will pay for it. The question you must ask is “is the value my customer gets far more than the price they pay?”
You can’t keep lowering prices to win in the marketplace. You cannot operate your business with no profits. If you keep dropping prices, real soon, your business will drop dead and you my friend, will close shop.
What pays the bills? Money pays the bills. You’ve got bills- rent, staff, logistics, and so much more. When the estate agent comes knocking, what do you tell him? That you can’t pay your rent because you’re not making profits? Focus on value. Before considering lowering your price, focus on improving the value you provide.
Remember this: If you don’t determine your own value in the marketplace, the marketplace will never give you your worth.
Sweat It Out
Work your butt out. Work, work, and keep working. Who says owning your own business is easy? Your days don’t get easier when you quit your job and start running your own shindig, it gets tougher. You’ve got to work hard, sweat for every Naira you get. You become your own personal assistant, front desk officer, salesman, marketer, driver, cleaner- you become everything to your business. If you could not handle the one job you had as an employee, how then will you handle ten jobs in one? Think about that.
Never Stop Improving
Keep learning. Always be improving yourself, adding value to yourself and your business, so that you can give more value to your customers. The day you stop learning is the day your business starts dying. There is so much to learn, you have got absolutely no idea. Consistent, never ending improvement, amongst others, controls the success or failure of your business. Keep finding ways to add more value than anyone else is. Keep finding new ways to satisfy your customer’s needs.
Make Staff Productive
The main priority of a business is to bring in revenue. Make every staff in your company assist in directly bringing in revenue into the business. Why can’t your front desk officer make sales calls? Make your staff productive and pay them well for it. Stop accommodating redundant staff, let everyone work for their pay. Your staff should earn their pay. Quit filling your company with staff like a Fortune500 because you are not; when you get there, you will know it. In the meantime, cut down on redundant staff. Except they are interns, or volunteer staff, you have no business filling every corner in your small space with staff. Remember, you are a small business.
Dear business owner, no one starts a business and plans to fail. There are many steps you can take to make sure your business survives through the times. Start with these today and keep at it. Keep learning and improving yourself, your staff, your products/services and hence, your business. Remember the day you stop learning is the day your business starts drowning.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Tatsianama