COVID has had an impact like no other. To have thought that industries would shut down, that people would be restricted to their homes, that ‘life as we know it’ would stop – just wasn’t conceivable at the start of 2020. It has also been a stark wake up call to all who are responsible for running businesses.
It is all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day routine of running a business, to know that there are aspects that need fixing, but to put them off for another day. To run your business with profit or loss too close for comfort, or to allow your product or service to stagnate. With the mentality of ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ Perhaps the biggest lesson from the last year is that businesses should never be run like that in the first place. They are too vulnerable, too fragile, and not earthquake proof against the inevitable but unforeseen storms.
Looking critically at a business can be hard, our egos dictate that we look for the strengths and sugar coat the weaknesses; classic ‘confirmation bias’. However, anybody who owns their own business if they are honest with themselves, will be only too aware of its limitations – of what is holding it back, of its Achilles heel. The best way to future proof any business is to look at those weaknesses, to look with a clinical eye at the threats and then to fix them. No matter how difficult it is to implement those changes, the only way for any business to grow sustainably is to have strong foundations.
Finessing your product or service can often be the easy part, passion for the product or service offering is often why that business was born in the first place and is often in relatively good shape – however, have you let innovation slip? Have your business processes become clunky and restrictive to growth? These things can creep up without us realising, and the business has become, for want of a better word, stale. By strengthening the value proposition, by really understanding why the product or service should be bought, and by understanding any pain points your customer base has, can often give businesses the edge that they need to grow.
By looking under the bonnet of a business you will shine a light on what is, but far more importantly, what isn’t working. Whether that is a team member who is holding the business back, inefficient internal communications, stock issues or clunky internal process. Fix these things and your business will be the stronger for it.
At the heart of any business success is the strength of its commercial arm. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is, if nobody has heard of it or if not enough people are buying it or if you don’t have a good salesperson in place to close new business – the business will fall short of its potential.
Unless there is a crystal-clear strategy in place for lead generation, it becomes even harder.
Without a proper marketing strategy that has commercial results at its core, predicting sales quarters activity becomes much more of a gamble. There are straightforward formulas you can introduce that allow you to predict lead volumes, spend and return on investment, and to make insightful decisions for your business.
Not everybody understands how to build a brand, generate sales leads or build a community of customers online. The starting point in future proofing your business is to look with a critical eye and ask yourself if you have the right structures in place to generate leads and close new business, especially if 2021 is another year like 2020. If the answer is yes, all well and good, but if the answer is no, then fix it immediately. Afraid to spend money? What was true for Plautus ‘spend money to make money’ is still as relevant in today’s world; good marketing does deliver results.
The lessons learned through the challenges of 2020 can be applied through this next phase of challenging times. Examining your business and getting well thought out plans in place to make it a fitter and more agile will be key to future success.
Take Nutcracker Agency, an award-winning marketing agency that has strong foundations and that has seen decent growth year in year out since inception. The business is no different to others. Within two weeks of the announcement of the first lockdown a devastating figure came off its turnover. Why? Businesses were struck by fear, it was the unknown, it felt like the business world as we all knew it had ended.
What is the best thing that you can do for your business this year? Make decisions that aren’t easy, take off your rose-tinted spectacles and look critically at your business. Really look at what isn’t working, look at the team, look at the product, look at your service, look at your processes and implement change. Change any aspects of your business that just aren’t good enough, execute those decisions you have been putting off, that you know are holding the business back.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to invest in your business. One thing that is guaranteed – a business not marketing itself, shouting into silence has a lot less chance of being heard.