There is nothing more encouraging than to see customers coming through your doors, dollars flowing into your bank account, and your teams buzzing around new projects. The heartbeat of your business, healthy. Full of life.
Days and weeks roll into months and years. You get so immersed in the day-to-day operations that you start to lose the edge of awareness that you had in the beginning stages. Momentum starts to slow a little, and the passion that once drove new innovation and active lead generation now plateaus.
But do you notice? Are you tapped into the soul of your company enough to recognise when things need a bit of a shake up? Are you willing to actually sit and take a long, hard, honest objective assessment of cracks that are starting to form? The small indications of a possibility that it may in fact be the beginning of the end?
How do you know when your business is bleeding? What are the things you should look for?
1. Lack of growth
The very first indicator that your business has hit a rough spot is that the growth of the company has either slowed, plateaued or, worse-case scenario – going backwards (ie losing clients). This often happens when business owners or managers get tired, overwhelmed or lazy. To have consistent growth year on year within your business you need to be acutely aware of the areas that are working really well, and the ones that are not. Actively focusing on milestones, forecasting growth and encouraging innovation will ensure that you stay engaged with this essential component of a healthy business.
Each milestone should have a clear description of the tasks, a responsible person to ensure the key tasks are implemented, a budget for execution and a due date.
2. Ineffective or non-existent marketing
Throughout my years of working as a digital strategist, it is interesting that as soon as the money slows or stops flowing, one of the first things a lot of people do is cut their marketing budget. This is like tying up your main artery that will almost immediately stop the blood supply to your heart. Essentially, one of the worst things you can do. Throwing a heap of cash at the problem blindly is also potentially detrimental.
Take a step back and do an audit of your current marketing efforts. Pull out the data that is now readily available to you and review how effective your marketing strategies are. If you do not have a strategy in place, or have no idea how to review your efforts, hire a specialist to do a consultation and give you an overview. We are more than happy to help you with this, and you can contact me here.
Once you are able to see where the holes are in your marketing, you have re-established clear target markets, have set clear objectives, and have a plan in place to move forward with, you will be well on your way to rebuilding some momentum in your business. Your creative teams will be re-injected with fresh enthusiasm, and will be motivated by your new desire for growth.
3. Financial ignorance
This might sound strange to some of you who are all over the numbers in your business. If so, fantastic. I would be bold to say that perhaps you probably are not far from tapping into the next level of your business with a small amount of revision and guidance. The bottom line is, after all, the main reason a business operates in the first place. Knowing your numbers and understanding how small changes affect these numbers is key to growth and success. I know some amazing business owners who literally look at the overview of their accounts on a daily basis for motivation as well as to ensure that they are meeting their milestones. Being proactive in the area of your finances is essential. Even if you hire a professional to do your accounting, you need to have a basic understanding of your incoming and outgoing. Ask for advice, do a little research yourself. Be educated in this area enough to stay on the front foot.
Budgeting and setting financial forecasts is a responsibility that we cannot avoid as business operators. Perhaps you avoid it because you find it boring. You much prefer the buzz of the marketing department, or just want to hang out with your customers and drink wine all afternoon. Budgeting and forecasting helps you develop your long-term strategies and ensure that money does not become your biggest bleed.
In fact, 82% of small businesses fail due to lack of cash flow, or poor cash flow management skills. This can be avoided with the right approach.
Here is a great article I found on Entrepreneur about 6 Ways to Make Financial Forecasts More Realistic
4. Discontented or ineffective staffing
When you have teams of discontented, bored or lazy staff, your business will definitely be moving in the wrong direction. One of the biggest expense is often wages. If you are not getting a return from the work your staff are doing, you need to deal with it quickly. Avoiding the confrontational conversations will not solve your problem. Remove all emotion from the moment and be objective in your review of your staffing. Take a good look at your own leadership model to ensure that you are doing everything in your capacity to inspire, encourage growth and motivate your teams.
I have often seen retail managers in meetings prior to the doors opening, giving a pep talk to inspire their staff to sell well, be amazing with their customer service and ensure that everything is running smoothly. You may think daily motivational speeches are not necessary, but proactive review of the general wellbeing of the people at the front line will help stop the leaks. Don’t just leave people to it. Of course you need to hire skilled workers and give them the space to do what they do well. But you are the one captaining the ship and at the end of the day, you are the one who will go down if the whole vessel sinks.
I encourage you today to step back from your business, remove your emotional connection to it and take a good hard look at each aspect we have discussed above. It may be better than you think. It may be worse than you think. But at at the end of the day, at least you will know where you are at and can begin the journey towards a more successful, and satisfying future.