If we look back over the last decade, what we have learnt is that the speed of change seems to be accelerating. The implications for business is that the only way businesses today, whether large or small, are going to survive and thrive is through acceptance and continuous innovation in the face of this change. Your business, whether you are a large corporate or even an independent professional, needs to stay ahead of its competition…or suffer.
Ask yourself if you’ve done any of the following in the past six months…
You see business, like nature, is very simple. If you’re not growing, you’re dying. You can’t afford to remain stagnant and hope to compete in today’s economy. And the very worst thing you can do is to hope that the economy will somehow, someday improve.
Here’s a scary thought for you….
What if the economy doesn’t ‘bounce’ back for a very long time if at all? The current economic downturn has been around for almost two years and the indicators are not showing immediate signs of improvement any time soon.
But there is some good news…
Many businesses are doing great. And the fact that they are doing great is not down to luck. No, it’s because they have adapted to their marketplace and environment and are continuously innovating. And it isn’t a one-time flash-in-the-pan. It’s simply the way they do business these days. They’re taking consistent, effective action to become known as the leaders in their particular fields.
They realize that clients are moving targets. What appealed to them today might be different tomorrow. So, they reassess their messages and communicate what’s relevant, right now. They zero in on the issues, challenges, problems and frustrations that are most prevalent.
The advantage service businesses have is that they can create new services with very little investment. Very little expenditure of time or money is required; it just takes some insight, creativity, and effort to put their ideas into action. They don’t settle for their existing services because they’ve come to know that the most profitable one may be the next one they develop. That does not mean that product-based companies should not or are not innovating. However, product-based innovation can take longer and require more time and investment. Therefore, in the first instance, many product based companies, in order to add value to their customers, are taking a leaf out their service business neighbours and innovating with add-on services around their portfolio of products as a way of staying ahead of their competition.
My experience tells me that in most businesses if they just got closer to their customers there is between 20-25% latent growth just waiting to happen. It always costs less to sell current clients new services than to find new clients. Successful businesses have established ongoing client contact programmes, and continually offer something new. What are you doing to keep your clients happy and loyal?
They grow their contact lists focusing on providing value and gaining credibility so when potential clients are ready to engage, they’re seen as the supplier of choice.
They realize that there is no more efficient vehicle than the Internet to get word of their products or services out there. And they’re not complacent…rather, they’re restless…always looking for a better way to present their business and how it can add value. Has your business just put up a sign-post in cyberspace or are you joining the conversation (Check out this post ).
The concept of joint-venture partnering has never been more relevant than now. Smart business owners are not just selling their own products or services…they’re selling each other’s as well…and reaching a much wider audience. Partnering through strategic alliances, co-sponsored workshops/events/exhibitions, affiliate deals, etc., are some of the powerful ways to do this.
If you’re waiting around for something to change in this economy, you’re going to be very disappointed with your results in the coming year.
We’ve discussed some of the areas that innovative businesses are continuously developing strategies in. But, the question that I have face from a number of my clients is, how and where do we get started with all of this stuff? Here’s some ideas…
How about making a list of goals that you and your team would like to achieve in 12 months time. Then, make a list of what you need to do in the next quarter in order to make real progress towards achieving those goals. That will require making choices about what you can and can’t do with the time and resources that you have at your disposal. However, don’t ignore good ideas as they come up write it down and review on their applicability and ease of implementation on a regular basis.
Complex projects can take time and so, require planning. An action plan is simply a list of things you need to do in some form of chronological order. Keep it to a page or less. Better still, make it part of your agenda process. Chip away at the most important priority, one step at a time, until it’s complete or resolved. That way you’ll always be working on the most important thing on your list at all times.
You don’t have to be an expert as there is plenty of help out there, whether it is via partners, suppliers or advisors. Talking about my industry…..the business advisory field is growing and growing by leaps and bounds for a very simple reason – it works! Having someone who is as committed to your goals and success as you are is a very powerful thing. Set very specific goals, be honest about where you need help and ask for help and support when you get stuck.
You’re not going to get far in your business if you just want to lay back and simply daydream about your success. Jump in with both feet, push your boundaries, learn and you’ll see significant, corresponding results.