That Sinking Feeling: Struggle-Proof Strategies for Small Business Owners

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It can happen to anyone — even the best businesses suffer from lulls in sales. Here’s how the best businesses in your industry turn things around on a dime.

Change Before You’re Forced To Change

Most businesses wait too long to innovate. If you want to get yourself out of a financial jam, don’t get in one to begin with. Change and innovate before you’re forced to by market forces. Sure, it’s easier not to do that. And, most businesses (even large ones) refuse to innovate until the competition is one step ahead of them.

For a large business, this might be OK. But, for you, you cannot afford to wait. Rather than recognizing the shift in your industry after the fact, look at what might be coming down the pike. Anticipate. Keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and stay 3 steps ahead. When Encyclopedia Britannica started, print was the standard.

But, the company saw the writing on the wall. And, during the mid-1990s, they reinvented themselves, moved away from their reliance on paper-based products, and decided to focus on internet-based products by the late 2000s.

As a result, they didn’t go out of business, which is incredible for an encyclopedia company, since the world wide web is essentially a string of user-generated content which mimics an encyclopedia.

Dallas car accident lawyers, Tate Law Offices, also saw an opportunity to innovate, and took it. While many law firms don’t maintain their website, Tate saw the potential of offering online information, took it, and now operates a successful online presence, ahead of its peers.

Get Focused On What You Are

Many businesses don’t want to define who they are and what they stand for. Instead, they define themselves by the products they sell and the markets they serve. They lose sight of why they exist. Kodak did this and went off track in the 1970s and ‘80s. They saw themselves as a company defined by their current product line — film.

This would have ruined them in the age of digital cameras. Fortunately, they realized the real business they were in — memory preservation.

Get Rid Of Waste

A gardener knows that, in order to grow plants, they have to prune away dead leaves and weeds to make way for the plant. Business is the same way. You have to prune inefficient aspects of your business.

Global scientific company DuPont has consistently stayed ahead of the curve, willing to prune back unproductive business divisions, and even successful past operations, like Nylon, Lycra, and teflon. Sony has recognised that they need to do the same to save their company.

Question Everything

The second that you think you’ve “made it,” you’re in trouble. You need to stay hungry and always ready to question what you’re doing and whether it’s the right move you should be making. IBM did this in the 1990s, when it questioned its future in the computer market. As a result, it transformed itself into the business it is today.

George Mason enjoys sharing his ideas and insights online. He has a strong financial background as a business loans officer. More recently he consults businesses privately. His articles mainly appear on business and finance sites and blogs.

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