Everything has a cycle and that includes business. There will be times when, despite sales and marketing initiatives, that growth is flat. Not knowing what has caused the slump or how long it will last can be unnerving, even for the seasoned professional. Business plateaus prompt organizational evaluation, and possibly reveal opportunities for change and growth. The best place to begin is with a review of your business plan.
Take Advantage of Slow Business Growth Periods
Business Plan Review
When you review your business plan, do so with a critical eye. When drafting the plan initially, business owners generally state what will differentiate their business from their competitors. Over time has this remained true? Or has your business camouflaged itself to blend in, losing its competitive edge? The answer lies with your clients. Routinely, business owners, sales staff and account managers all speak with their clients. Ask them what they want from you or have their needs changed. Cull their answers and see how these dovetail with aspects of your business plan that may have taken a detour. Get back on track by incorporating the delivery of what your clients require to them.
Does your company have a website? If it is older than 5 years, it is too old. Be sure to build a new one for its ease of use, not just a great design. The most effective sites allow visitors to make their selections and purchase them quickly. Do not forget mobile users who now dominate the number of consumers who buy online. The easier it becomes for visitors to use your site, the more likely they will convert to customers.
Sales and Online Marketing Campaigns
As for sales and marketing, have you invested your spend wisely? Conventional brochures and radio spots have given way to internet promotions. Website in place, now take steps to ensure that potential customers will find your site with an ongoing search engine optimization agreement. Support this campaign by creating a presence on social media outlets that are relevant to your business and your demographic(s). This will create an ever-expanding group of people talking to other people about your business, its sales and promotions. Consider promotional email blasts to entice existing customers to revisit your site and buy. Not only will these efforts help to break your business plateau, but also may prove less expensive than the more conventional marketing outlets your business had relied on previously. Another concept that is not widely used is the webinar. These can be scripted to promote a new product or service and serve to further differentiate your company from competitors. It can also be uploaded to a corporate social media page and attract new prospects 24/7.
When seeking to reverse a business plateau, take a hard look around your office and its operations. Are there any office functions that have yet to be automated? Automation decreases human error and the time certain tasks take to perform. Automation allows for greater accountability as well. If your business is well-automated, ensure you have the latest business software and computers. Evaluate what you have and determine if it is time to update your business systems. Investing in updated accounting or task management can assist to document every aspect of a firm. Upgraded systems include reporting functions that may facilitate locating issues that require remediation. This can be essential to growing a business to the next level as seasoned professionals familiar with these systems can join your team and fit in seamlessly.
Remember to revert a business plateau, the positive only direction is upward growth. This means do not drop your prices for your products and services. Long term, this has not proven to be an effective strategy. Instead, consider value-adds. Consider Starbucks’ example. The company never discounts their products. However, for those with a member’s card, each purchase assigns points. When an associated number of points has been accrued through purchases, the member receives free food or drink. Other firms have adopted Customer Loyalty programs where successive purchases earn members a perk. Other examples include free shipping and returns.
Make Organizational Changes as Needed to Grow
When business growth pauses temporarily, it provides the opportunity for change and possibly redirection for your organization. With a little judicious corporate sleuthing, issues that may have been impeding its growth may be revealed and quickly remediated. This occasional organizational stock-taking during a slow or no-growth period, will rout issues and ensures a positive business outcome.
As a leading alternative financing company, National Business Capital assists businesses obtain additional working capital. Our blog series is intended to provide information of value to many of the industries that we serve. For business owners who may have questions regarding financing, please contact our Business Consultants at (888) 888-9124 to for assistance.