Why do businesses stop growing? The reasons are varied. Some get complacent and the market passes them by. Some run out of money before they can execute on their business plan. Others stop listening to their customers.
Here are some common pitfalls for businesses and ways you might be able to avoid them or dig yourself out of them, courtesy of Maryalene LaPonsie at Small Business Computing.
Good strategic planning can help you avoid complacency, so spend some time creating short-term, mid-term and long-term plans for your business. Start with your initial business plan. Have you met the goals you outlined? If not, why not? What needs to be changed or scrapped? And be sure to celebrate the goals you do meet.
Once you have your strategic plan in place, crunch the numbers to determine how much money you need to achieve your goals – and then figure out where you are going to get it. You may be able to self-fund projects with business profits, or you may need to find money elsewhere through small business loans, angel investors, crowdsourcing or venture capital. You may need to scale back your ambitions if the funding isn’t there, but the sooner you know that, the better.
In the age of the Internet and social media, it’s easier than ever to lose an unhappy customer, so don’t ever lose touch with your customers. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Why do your customers do business with you, and how do they use your product or service?
- What other products or services do they use?
- Do they have a need you aren’t currently filling but could?
- What are the latest trends in your industry?
- Will your product or service be relevant to customers in five years? Ten years?
Identify potential customers and find out what it would take to bring in their business too. And don’t be afraid to innovate and expand accordingly based on the feedback.
Strategic plans, funding and customer needs should always work together, so don’t look at any of them in a vacuum.