Don’t be market led! 7 steps to take control of the direction of your business.
Many businesses are effected by the swings and trends of their market, follow the crowd or pulled in the direction their dominant customers wants to go.
Would you rather not take control of your business, align, point, kick forward and accelerate in the direction where you want to go?
If you follow the business, economic and political media news, I guess you could be downbeat with all the negative data and information that is currently being communicated. But remember bad news grabs attention and therefore sells! Online media channels want your attention, this attracts you to their advertisers.
Facebook have 2.7 billion regular users and twitter have 330 million daily active users so what's posted and shared on their sites can have a big influence on your customers or your customers-customers behaviors.
The information these platforms share also effect your behaviour, it's very easy to get caught up in the now and this then can have a negative impact on your own short-term business planning, we end up just becoming reactive.
Our long term goals get parked, we just "stick to what we're doing" and therefore our businesses ends up following the general market trends, going up, down and side ways!
However most of the news shared is around events we can't control, such as the economy, natural disasters and even the current worldwide pandemic.
Reflect on the title of this piece, are you just allowing your business to be market led? If so, you will be at the mercy of market trends and the direction that takes you in the coming months?
If so, your business could be particularly vulnerable when or if the market stagnates or falls.
The other challenge you may have if you are in a B2B supply chain, your bigger customer's demands will determine many of your business decisions and what services you may deliver, by having your eggs in one basket. If your main customers market then goes into decline, guess what, you will then be stuck with what you do, who you supply too and then in a declining market, be challenged on price, potentially suffer lower volumes of products and services. Hence end up on a slippery slope where you may just follow your clients industry into demise.
In early 2020 the average life cycle of a business was 13 years, I imagine that could now be less.
7 steps to take control of your business and drive it in the direction you want to go?
1. Establish a clear plan of where you want your business to be! Not just "I want to grow the business" but be specific and put a number on it, set a time scale and understand what value this adds to you, the business owner.
2. Carry out market research, determine demographic trends or what industry sectors your current customers operate in? What's the business sentiment today and what do future trends look like for these markets? What's the market drivers in these sectors? Social, Technological, Economical, Environmental, Politically and Legal. What sectors are doing well and have future opportunities? Determine who the prospects and key companies are in these markets? Agree objectives to find out more, engage with the key influencers and explore opportunities. Therefore focus on relying less on business with customers in the declining markets and more on where there is growth.
3. Review your current product and service mix, by volumes, by margin, by sector. What's your sales trends?
Do all your customer know what you sell? Really, are you sure?
A quick win. Harvest your existing client base and focus on selling more of the things that you already make or supply to your existing customers. Cross-sell.
4. What's your competition doing? What's their strengths? Where are they weak? What can you learn? They may have a great website, or always be in the press supporting social enterprises. Ultimately you want to understand clearly the threats but also the key opportunities and any gaps that your business can exploit.
5. What's your current resources and capabilities? Do you have the right structure, systems, processes and people to deliver your plans? How well is your business and brand known? What's your reputation? How can you raise further awareness of your products or services and do you need to up-skill your employees?
It may be worth looking at obtaining external advice, as there are many specialists out there. Often SMEs can apply for subsidies to help pay towards consultancy fees too, so certainly worth exploring your options.
6. Share your plans with your employees, work together to agree the necessary short and medium term objectives. Decide who takes responsibility for what actions and agree timescales.
7. Then key, ensure you follow up regularly!
It then just a matter of focusing on and supporting your team, because it is only through your people that you can deliver your plan.
So why not take up the reins, guide, lead and check in on your team and therefore drive your business in the direction you want it to go. It will be tough at times, but keep your focus on the overall objective, stay on track and do keep the momentum going.
If you wish to chat though any of the above or share your challenges or ideas, please do just get in touch.