changes to consider for a successful year
If you’ve decided to revisit your business plan, we have five ways to re-invent or re-visit your strategy to help you succeed over the next twelve months.
Step 1. Act as a new start-up
Imagine if you could start again. What parts of your business would you change to build a new, stronger business on the foundations of the old one? What would you do differently and how would the business look?
You may want to:
- Delete unprofitable product or service lines
- Introduce new products or services experiencing growth
- Close down parts of the business that are no longer profitable
- Change the expertise mix of your staff (possibly letting some go)
- Invest in new research and development
Consider expanding your products or services by adding something new or different. Consider new approaches to sell to customers such as a trial offer, a free sample, a special price, or extra service. If you can establish one or more new opportunities in an identifiable target market, can you pivot some or all your business to meet that demand?
Step 2. Apply low-cost marketing techniques
Bootstrap the way you promote your business by finding inexpensive ways to get your business in front of customers. Review your promotional tactics and identify which worked the best. List them from the cheapest to the most expensive, then start from the top. You may find the methods that cost very little are the best, such as:
- Contact likely customers directly (remember the phone?)
- Increase your presence on social media
- Use email campaigns to your existing contact list
- Build word-of-mouth by asking customers for referrals
- Use virtual meeting invites to target customers outside your normal business area
Many of the best small business marketing ideas take time rather than money, which in a crisis you probably have more of.
Step 3. Sell more to existing customers
It's easier to sell to your existing customers since you already have a relationship. Ask if there is anything they need and offer them an incentive (from discounts to pre-payment deals to advance notice of new releases). Other tactics to sell more to existing customers include:
- Use accounting software to identify and contact inactive customers
- Analyze customer buying behavior to offer complementary products and services
- Run product demos
Triple check costs and pricing to ensure you are making money from each sale. Extra revenue from existing customers that has low margin, cost overruns, extra waste, or product returns isn’t going to help long term. Your sales strategy needs to concentrate on the best products and best customers so focus on the 20% that generate 80% of your sales to increase the chance they will respond.
Step 4. Sell more to new customers
If sales to your existing customers decline and you can’t quickly switch what you do as a business, focus on adding new customers by:
- Add an online store to your website
- Use third party marketplaces like Amazon or specialist industry sites
- Promote on social media to attract buyers
- Form strategic alliances with complementary businesses
- Prospect in the next street, town, or city
Chances are new customers will look a lot like your existing customers. Profile who your ideal prospects are in order of volume, on-time payments, and repeat orders. Then research where they are located and the best methods to get in front of them.
Step 5. Find new business models
To get through the coming months and to keep the cash coming in, consider adjusting your business model to uncover new opportunities such as:
- Sell online if you don’t already
- Target growth segments such as government, military, education, health etc.
- Set up a specialized hub to help buyers and sellers do business
- Share helpful or interesting content on platforms where you can make money with services like Google AdSense
- Subcontract to other businesses for short-term contracts
- Sell your expertise by the hour online
If you do decide to do business in a new model, make it a collaborative effort by including your staff, advisers, friends, and family to develop your plan of action and seek professional advice if decisions will impact your financial well-being.
In the next twelve months, much will change. Be as proactive as you can by taking time to decide where best to place your time and money, then implement your customer, product, service, or business model as fast as you can to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Want more ideas for a successful year ahead? Contact one of our small business relationship managers.