There are lots of bumps in the road for a small business – sudden shocks, price rises, downturns, big competitors moving to town. Sometimes you react and move on, sometimes you have to change the whole direction of your business to account for it. Today we’re taking a look at the process of changing plans at a small business so you can face it with confidence.
What’s the Problem?
The first step is to clearly identify and describe the challenge you’re facing. Where’s it come from and what exactly is the threat it represents to your business? When you feel like you’re facing a crisis it’s easy to take panicky actions that don’t necessarily connect to issues at hand. “We have to do something, and this is something so we have to do it” is a common thought process that rarely leads to good results.
Do Your Research
Get some data in front of you. What you’re looking for may be different depending on the kind of business you’re running – a large tech company might commission a competitive positioning strategy to learn about relative position with their competitors, a single location retailer could take a walk around town and google a few key products.
If you can afford it, market research is always helpful. Learning what your customers are thinking and why they’re making the decisions they’re making helps you appeal to them. If you need to tempt back customers who’ve turned away from your business – or attract new ones – you need to know what they want to see from you.
In a small business with a tight team, communication is key. It’s easy for people to see when something is up. They know if fewer people are coming through the door, when you’re having unusual meetings or even if you’re simply looking worried.
It’s important to maintain clear communication during periods like this. Don’t commit yourself to any course of action you might not be able to stick to – this amounts to lying to your trusted employees! – but be open about the fact that you’re facing a difficulty and looking for solutions.
Don’t forget two important words: opportunity cost. If you’re worried about cash flow it’s easy to see any way to cut your outgoings as a saving, but this isn’t the case. A cut that limits your opportunities in future may not be a saving at all! Think about the resilience of your business when you’re making changes or enacting cuts. Find a way forward that lets you face this year’s challenges without damaging your ability to pivot to the next year’s opportunities.