Spring is the most exciting period of all four seasons because it follows winter and ushers in summer. Summer is when the weather is warm and a lot of outdoor activities take place; people go outside, take a walk to the beach, go shopping, have evening entertainment outside – the list is endless. So, there’s always looking forward to spring as we know that summer is definitely around the corner.
Spring is usually associated with excitement. It is during this time when life starts to blossom: plants become green, animals come out of hibernation, rainfall brings in fresh fragrances, and generally, life begins to flourish. Spring, also referred to as “springtime”, is also about rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection and regrowth. It’s about change. Change in our lives, and of course in our businesses.
With having just entered this exciting season, it goes without saying that we are in a period where we should review our businesses to determine what we can do to revive and revise, rejuvenate and renew.
Why review your business at this time?
- It gives you an opportunity to reflect on the key business decisions you’ve taken and whether they are yielding results.
- It gives you an opportunity to identify further growth opportunities.
- It gives you an opportunity to apply and implement quick corrective measures in case things are not going according to plan.
- It helps you to identify new innovative ideas you can implement to enhance your product/service offering.
Where do you start? How do you review to revive?
Your finances: the backbone of your business
Looking at your overall business performance, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you on target to meet and achieve your 12-month revenues/profits? This is where your business plan comes in. The fact that you have a 12-month plan doesn’t mean you have to get stuck on only reviewing your business performance at the end of the 12 months, or at the end of your financial year. The idea is not to review and revise the entire Business Plan, but to identify specific strategies and tactics that you need to tweak just a little, completely change or just update.
- What is working well? Which of the things you’re doing are working well that bring delight to your customers? What more of that can you do?
- What is not working well? What are the things that are causing you sleepless nights? What is their impact to your bottom line? Which of those can you get rid of, and which can you retain?
- What do you need to improve? Which of your product/service items need to be improved to create more customer satisfaction and send more traffic to you?
- What do you need to change? What do you need to get rid of from your product/service list?
- What new things can you introduce? What are the new, less costly products/services you can innovate and introduce to your offerings? Is the market in which you’re operating open for innovations? What new market segments are emerging, and what new marketing channels can you expand to increase your visibility and attract new customers? What aspects of your marketing plan do you need to change?
Your customers: your bread and butter for your business
Looking at the beneficiaries of your products/services, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who are your customers? I always say this, and I will say it again: Every business exists to make money (well, that is, those that are a profit driven), and to make money, customers need to buy. So, to what extent do you know your customers?
- Have you retained your existing customers? Customer retention is important because it means your customers are loyal to you, and they keep coming back for more of your services. So, to what extent have you retained your customers?
- Have you gained new customers? New customers are always welcome and appreciated as they may have come through referral from your existing customers, but also because they’ve seen something of value in what you are selling. So, do you know if you have gained new customers? How do you know? With customers coming out of winter and hibernation, what should you do to attract new customers?
- What are your customers saying about your products/services? Customer feedback is critical as it provides you with the opportunity to improve your products/services to your customers. Do you have a customer feedback mechanism in place? What are your customers saying to you? Are you listening to them?
- Do you regularly communicate with your customers? It’s no secret that customers like to feel like they are a ‘part of your business’, especially if they are your loyal customers. This you achieve by regularly communicating with them, especially on what they find relevant and of value. So, are you regularly communicating with your customers? As an example, are you sending them birthday wishes when it’s their birthday?
Your competition: your challengers to your business
Looking at those targeting the same customers as you, ask yourself the following questions:
- What is your competition doing or not doing? You may find that your competitors have reacted to your market entry by reducing their prices for similar product/services, or they might have extended business operating services, or provided additional incentives to the customers for purchasing from them. Do you match their tactics? Do you stick to your plan? Seeing that you will get lower revenues than expected because of your competition, you of course need to come up with a plan of how you’re going to remedy the situation. This is where your marketing plan review comes in and you decide how you are going to reposition yourself.
- A competitor may have copied your product or service: Have you protected yourself against such actions by registering your intellectual property rights (patents, copyrights) that are affordable for you so that you can take them to task and bring them to book? What are you doing to protect yourself going forward?
The legislation: regulators of your business
Looking at the boundaries that get imposed on the business, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is/Has there been any legislative changes that will impact your business? Has tax on the raw materials you’re buying to manufacture your products changed? Are there any other regulatory changes that are impacting your ability to trade? How are the changes affecting your ability to compete fairly in the market?
My challenge to you? It’s spring time; it’s time for new beginnings; it’s time for revival, time for change. Today, take a bird’s eye view of what and where you can change your business for the better.
‘Don’t worry about being worried. You’re heading out on an adventure and you can always change your mind along the way and try something else’. Tracy Kidder