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StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

How to Move Your Business Forward

For any business, there can be times when your market starts to slow down. There could be a number of reasons why this happens, but the important thing is what you do as a business to keep your company moving forward. If you are a new business, it can be a scary experience, especially if this is the first time and you haven’t put a strategy in place. However, here are a few ideas that can help you to focus on the important things and encourage you to keep going.

Fight Your Fear

Seeing the market slow down can be a worrying time for any company. You want to do things to try and boost your exposure, but you are wary of doing something that will cost money. While being cautious is a good thing, you need to weigh up your options and see where your opportunities are. Instead of becoming too fearful, try to analyze things objectively and decide the best way forward. If you find trying to be objective difficult to do, ask a friend in business to take a look for you.

Do Your Research

Before you can start to do something about your company growth, you need to know what areas you have to target. That is why you need to do your research not just on your customers, but also on your competitors. You should also be thinking about what has caused the slowdown in your market. Is it anything that you can work against? Is there a way that you can use it to your advantage? See where your competitors are going and see if there is an area they aren’t currently occupying. That might be the angle you need to start your company moving forward again.

Researching your customer’s feelings are also a good way to see what’s changed. Send out a survey on your social media accounts or try to email your existing customers. Their feedback could be the key to finding out which way to go.

Look Within Your Company

At these times, it can be a good thing to take a look at your operation to see if anything can be changed or improved. Assess and decide if there are any processes that can be managed in a better way or if there are members of staff who would be more efficient in other areas. It doesn’t mean you have to release any staff; it just gives you the opportunity to take stock of the company. It can also be a good time to look ahead and see if there are any ways you can save money, just in case things don’t improve. Look at your suppliers – are there any that could renegotiate their arrangements? Are there any contracts that are losing your company money? If there are, you might have to consider stopping them and putting your resources elsewhere. It also means that if you manage to save a little money without losing staff, you can then reinvest that money in marketing.

Have a Strategy

Once you have done your research, you should be able to think about how you are going to keep your company growing. Why have your customers stopped using your company? Is it the same for your competitors? If your competitors are doing better than you currently, then try to see why that is, what are they offering that your business is not? It may be a simple thing that you can do which will start to grow your customers again, or perhaps you can offer a different service where you see a demand. Try to devise a strategy that can be adjusted to suit a variety of conditions. For example, set limits on the amount you spend on bonuses or overseas trips, these can be raised or lowered depending on how well the company is achieving.

Consider New Approaches

Part of your review of your company may have shown that you need to think about offering a new approach to your customers. If you have always dealt with them in person, then maybe offering an online service would entice them back. Perhaps you need to offer some new additional services that have become popular with other companies. For example, if you are a law firm, then maybe using a Practical Planning System estate program to help people with their will and power of attorney will attract some additional clients. Perhaps you can take advantage of new technology to do more interviews and meetings via video conference instead of traveling to them. Not only will it save you money, but it will also enable you to arrange meetings quickly and increase your productivity.

Change Your Marketing Strategy

Another way that you may be able to get the jump on your competitors is to refocus your marketing strategy. There may be nothing wrong with what you are currently doing, though by adjusting it to other areas, you may increase your reach and obtain more leads.

Take a look and see if there are any areas that you are not currently advertising. It could be that you have never placed an ad on television before, but it might be a good idea, especially locally. This is where you need to be brave and think about the long-term benefits of advertising. Try a limited run, to begin with, and see how many new leads it generates.

Another good idea is to email your old clients and see if they need your services. It might seem unlikely, but there may be people that have been putting something off until the time was right. Your email might be the nudge they need to get it done.

It can be easy to think the worst and try to downsize your company when the market begins to slow down. Though that can be a good way to save money, it doesn’t help attract new customers and drive the market once again. If you begin to panic, it’s important to think about all the things you haven’t done yet and give them a try, but be decisive, because the sooner you get moving, the quicker you will see the results.

Key Strategic Action Questions

Leaders can sometimes get sidelined and stuck in a rut by focusing too much on tactics rather than strategies, and on what happened yesterday rather than what needs to happen tomorrow and the many tomorrows to come. Here are some questions to answer when you are thinking about Strategic Action. You might want to rate yourself on the questions including – how often and how well do you ask yourself and your people these questions?

Questions to Answer

1. Mission – the organization’s core work; reason/purpose for being

  • Why does this organization exist?
  • Whom does it serve?
  • What distinguishes it from other organizations?
  • What do you do that gives the organization meaning?

2. Vision – an inspiring, passionate, image of what the organization needs to and will become; a mental, even visual, model of the future; what success looks like

  • What kind of organization do you want to become?
  • What legacy do you want to leave?
  • How do you want to be perceived in the world? Be known for?
  • What does your ideal world look like?
  • What’s organizational culture do you want to create and how do you expect that culture will help you achieve your vision and strategic goals?

3. Values – the behaviors and actions that create the culture in the organization, the beliefs that drive decisions about people and work

  • What are the principles that guide your decision-making?
  • What can your stakeholders rely on in terms of the quality of programs/services/products delivered?
  • What do you stand for and how do you show that to each other?

When MVV are established and clear, you can begin to align people and work in significant and meaningful ways. Everything you do should align with your Mission, advance you toward your Vision, and be in harmony with your Values.

4. Strategies – These FEW BIG things will define how the organization will get where it wants to go. The overarching approach that will significantly advance the Vision and stay true to the Mission and Values.

5. Tactics – Those actions/activities/work, that when accomplished, will align with and advance the Strategies

  • What are the specific areas of work you want to address?
  • What do you want to have completed and by when in these various areas?
  • How will your goals advance your desired strategic outcomes?

6. Objectives – Fall within the Tactics. This is the work each person’s can identify with personally and can link to the organizational strategy, vision and mission

  • What specifically is the work that will advance the strategy and tactics?
  • Who are the right people to have this objective on their ‘plate?’
  • Who’s responsible for making it happen?
  • What are the deliverables, milestones, and time lines?
  • What resources (people, time, money, space, other) are required to make this happen and happen well?
  • What processes need to be in place (i.e. project management, change process, structure) to ensure a positive outcome?

Remember, it IS the leaders’ job to establish the mission and vision. Values should be developed with input and buy in from those who must live by them.

A vision is only a true vision when it has longevity, is not person dependent, and can stand the test of time.

Organizations need a FEW SIGNIFICANT and CLEAR, MEASUREABLE strategies to help advance the larger Vision.


About the Author

Roxi HewertsonLeadership authority Roxana (Roxi) Hewertson is a no-nonsense business veteran revered for her nuts-and-bolts, tell-it-like-it-is approach and practical, out-of-the-box insights that help both emerging and expert managers, executives and owners boost quantifiable job performance in various mission critical facets of business. Through AskRoxi.com, Roxi — “the Dear Abby of Leadership” — imparts invaluable free advice to managers and leaders at all levels, from the bullpen to the boardroom, to help them solve problems, become more effective and realize a higher measure of business and career success.

How can you make the leadership leap gracefully? Well, learning and practicing effective leadership skills is a good place to begin. When you read Roxi’s book you’ll be well on your way! Click here to learn more.