Even if it seems to be smooth sailing from here on out with your small business, everything can change at any moment. Sometimes the change is sudden, with the tide turning in an instant. More often however, the change is gradual, and you are lost at sea before you even realize.
This is because over time, business ideas and the purpose they serve inevitably change. The key to staying successful despite a changing tide is to stay ahead of it. If you can see it coming, and you can see which way it is going to go, you can adjust accordingly and not only stay afloat, but even thrive when everyone else is drowning.
Pay Attention to the Signals
Watch what the market it doing. Are you seeing a decrease in sales in an area that used to be booming? What could be happening? Is there new competition, a new product the market is favoring over yours, or are their hours adjusting?
Maybe customers are eating later in the evening because a new movie theater or bowling alley opened. Can you stay open later? Maybe the new competition has an opening special. Should you wait it out, or do you need to offer your own promotion?
There will always be signals in the market. Stay on top of them and pay attention so you can investigate and adjust.
Once you see the signals and what they indicate is happening, starting thinking about that adjustment. Those later hours, promotions, or new products have to be planned. Will the changes be for a short time? Will they be indefinite?
Once you make the adjustment, be certain to have a plan for tracking the change. You need to know if it is working, or if you need to try something else.
Communicate with the Market
Find out from the horse’s mouth what it going on. Talk to customers, offer a survey, or hop on your Facebook page and just ask. Follow customers and keep an eye on what folks are saying about your business and others like it on all the social networks.
You have to know what the market it saying, and the only way to do that is to ask and listen.
Respond to What You Learn
Once you hear what they have to say, figure that in to your plan. If you don’t take what they say into account, you will accomplish nothing. If they want later hours, more flavors, or lower prices, do what you can to accommodate. If you don’t, the competition will.
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