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Is Your Business In A Downward Spiral? Can You Fix It?

StrategyDriven Managing Your Business Article |Downward Spiral|Is Your Business In A Downward Spiral? Can You Fix It?Have you noticed that your business has been in a downward spiral lately? This happens to some businesses over their time on the market, and if you are one of the ones that are lucky enough to be able to stop it, we suggest that you grab the chance. A lot of businesses won’t be able to make a recovery, but you should be able to tell pretty fast whether or not your business is going to be one of them. In this article, we’re going to be taking a look at some of the things that you should be doing if your business is in a downward spiral so that you can fix it. Keep reading down below if you would like to find out more.

Hire More Employees

The first thing that you should think about is hiring some more employees. We know that this might be trying to use money that you don’t really have, but it’s better than not having enough staff to cover the demand that you currently have. The best thing that you can do for yourself is either outsource to an agency and get some agency workers in on a temporary basis, or just hire people straight away. Ideally, you want someone short term so that you can then work on getting the business back on track, before you start spending more money.

However, this isn’t always how life works out and sometimes you have to get yourself some new full-time employees right away. If this happens, start out with one or two and see how they can manage to curb some of the issues you are having. We’re not saying that it’s going to be an instant fix, but it will certainly help sort out any backlog you have at the moment.

Reduce How Many People You Serve

It may be the case that you have taken on more than you can handle for now, and you need to scale back a little bit. Stop trying to stretch yourself so thin serving as many people as possible and instead focus on providing high quality to a smaller number of people. Once you have done this, you can then work on increasing the amount of people that you can provide your product or service to. While it might feel as though you are taking a step backwards, we can assure you that this is essential to stop the overflow that is happening.

Sometimes taking a step back is not the worst thing in the world. Sometimes, it is necessary so that we can see where things started to go wrong, or simply to give yourself a little breather. There is nothing wrong with this, so don’t be fooled into thinking that it is.

Focus On Customer Service

Customer service really is important, and if you haven’t been placing enough of a focus on that, then you need to start now. It might be true that one of the reasons your business was on a downward spiral was because you are losing customers faster than water through a bucket with holes in the bottom. To avoid this, you have got to offer your customers an experience that they are not going to forget, and for all the right reasons. You want to ensure that you are doing everything in your power to provide a friendly and helpful service, which means that your employees all need to be trained in this.

Try to add more layers to your customer service if you can, just to give yourself an edge over the competition. For example, add live web chat as an option to contact you, and add in some other language options to make life easier for those whose first language is not English. Both of these things should make life a little more comfortable for the customer, which increases your overall rating.

Think About Your Marketing

Marketing! It’s an important concept even if there are business owners out there who would not agree with that statement. Above we mentioned that you might have too many customers, but the problem could also be that you don’t have enough. If this is true for you, then marketing is going to be your answer. This is how you let people know who you are, what you are capable of and why they should choose you over anyone else in the industry. It’s hard to sell someone on your business if you’re not even putting any emphasis on marketing at all.

For example, if you are a HVAC company then you are going to need to really think about HVAC digital marketing and what is going to appeal to your customers. The same goes for any industry really, as you have got to try and create what they want. Show them what they are looking for, even if they don’t know that’s what they are looking for until they see it. You provide the service, so you need to tell them why they should hire you.

Save Yourself Some Money

A common problem with businesses these days is that they don’t have the money that they need in order to do what they are trying to do. So, the simple solution is to save some more money, right? This isn’t as easy as it sounds though which is where the problem comes in. There are a number of methods that you can try in order to get to your goal, one of which is outsourcing departments rather than trying to maintain them yourself. You can get professional help for less money than you would pay to full-time salaried employees. This means that you will have a little bit of extra cash to pump into the areas that aren’t really working right now.

Another thing that you can do to save money is try and change suppliers. If you can find someone who can provide you with what you need while offering it to you at a cheaper price than your current supplier, all while providing the same quality, then you need to take it. It can save you a lot of cash doing this, as shopping around is always the best way to find the best deals.

Add A New Service

Have you thought about adding a new product or service to your line up? It may simply be a case of the demand for your current services is dwindling at the moment, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t get it back. Demand goes up and down depending on what is going on in the world, and depending on the popularity of some things. There isn’t much that you can do about it other than try to make people want your product or service through marketing but we have already talked about this above. As such, you need to think about adding something else to your list of offerings. This might be the boost and the change that your business needs in order to boost back up to where it should be.

Ideally, this will mean that the downward spiral your business is on will stop, and you will be able to plug the hole with the new service. Essentially, that is all it is when you are trying to sort your business out, plugging holes. You just need to find something that is the right fit.

Take A Look From The Outside

Try to take a look at your business from the outside and see what is going on. Take a look as to how you appear to the average consumer, and then ask yourself if you are a business that you would use. If the answer is no, then you need to put your finger on what the problem is so that you can change it. Come up with a list of things if you can as every little detail is going to matter when it comes to your company. If consumers have a negative perception of your business, this could be keeping them away from using the service that you are offering which is the last thing that you need.

Get feedback from customers and people online to see what they think as well. Combining their feedback with your own perceptions could be really helpful when it comes to working out how to fix what isn’t working anymore.

We hope that you have found this article helpful, and now see some of the things that you can do to try and fix your business if it is in a downward spiral. The most important part of this entire process is stopping the spiral, so if you can manage that then you are going to be in a stronger position than you were before. Once you manage to put the brakes on this, you can then work on implementing things to try and stop your business from crashing any further, and hopefully the advice that we have given you will work. We wish you the very best of luck, and hope that your business starts to see success again soon.

Careful, These Issues Can Ruin Your Customer Experience

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Customer Experience|Careful, These Issues Can Ruin Your Customer ExperienceAre you worried that your customer experience isn’t living up to the expectations of your clients? If so, then it can cause a massive rupture in the potential of your company. So, let’s look at some of the problems customers can have and how to fix them.

Too Slow

First, you might find that there is a problem with the speed of the service that you are providing. You need to make sure that you are taking steps to speed up things in your company model. For instance, you might want to consider investing in a chat bot. The big benefit of a chat bot is that they don’t have to wait until an employee is free. Instead, they can get answers about your site and your service immediately. Don’t forget, a lot of customers have expressed they prefer live chat to actual calls.

No Personalization

A lot of customers these days are demanding a higher level of personalisation. They want to ensure that it feels as though a company really knows and understands them. Too many businesses just provide a cookie cutter solution. If you are wondering how to get this right, then the answer is almost certainly at your fingertips. You can use the data that you have accumulated to ensure that your solution feels far more personal overall. You can even send out exclusive offers and marketing that fit with the products and services that they are interested in.

Poor Employees

You might think that it doesn’t matter who you hire for your customer service team. We promise you that this is not the case and choosing the right people will be important. Your customer support staff need to make people feel reassured and connected to the brand as a whole. You can think about hiring an outsourcing service to ensure that you get the quality you need without causing the cost to balloon here. Or, you might want to consider hiring an in-house team. If that’s the case, one of the ways to get a high quality team would be by using a recruitment agency.

Low Quality

Finally, you need to make sure that the system that you are using is providing the quality that customers expect. For instance, in terms of voice calls, it’s important to ensure that the calls don’t feel like they are submerged in static or as though someone is trying to talk to them underwater. If there is a problem like this, you can guarantee they will hang up and won’t call back. One of the ways that you can fix this is by investing in services like unified communications. This is always going to improve the customer experience.

We hope this helps you understand some of the key issues that can completely ruin your customer experience. If you take this advice on board, then you can make sure that you don’t have to worry about your customers being turned off by your company. This could ultimately lead to you losing a fortune in missed sales.

Mistakes That Can Trip Up Your Small Business

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article |Small Business Mistakes|Mistakes That Can Trip Up Your Small BusinessWhen you’re starting a business, it’s easy to start running under your own momentum without really having an opportunity to stop and think things through as well as you should. While having that enthusiasm and energy is crucial for getting things lifted off the ground, you should make sure that you’re not making any of the following mistakes that can trip you up before you even get started.

Forgetting the business plan

You might have a basic plan of what, exactly, you need to do, but a business plan takes things into a lot more depth. It plots out the internal organization of the business, how you carry out work, and what targets you need to reach in order to grow. It can help you set a direction from the business from day one, meaning that decision-making from that point on has a path to follow, making some choices much clearer.

Not separating yourself from your business

You may be the proud owner and operator of your business, including its sole staff member at the start, but you shouldn’t be the business. Look at this Infile LLC Service review and learn about how starting a limited liability company can make sure that you’re both legally and financially protected from any consequences of running your business. Otherwise, you can be found legally liable as an individual in the event of the lawsuit, for instance.

Not knowing your place in the market

Before you start pumping money into marketing and outreach, you need to know where, exactly, in the market your business fits in. This Inbox Insight review can help you find a team that can help you learn more about the market, its availability, and the competition that might be out there waiting for you. As such, if you find a niche that’s uncovered, you can find a place for your business, or you might have to start off more competitive, offering what the others in the market do not.

Not understanding the customer perspective

It’s easy to know what services and products you are selling from your own perspective. However, in order to market and sell it effectively, you also need to see what your customers see in it. As such, you need to think about what basic needs or wants your products and services fulfill, what pain points they hit, and what kind of lifestyle of future they help your customers and clients see, as a result.

Doing everything yourself

At some point, you’re going to need help to deal with the sheer amount of responsibilities you acquire as your business gets up and running and you grow. Employing some team members to work alongside you might be preferable but, if you’re not at the stage of hiring just yet, you might also want to consider outsourcing some of your admin work to a virtual assistant.

Your small business needs every advantage it can get when it first starts off. Consider the potential mistakes above and what you’re doing to combat them, making sure you got your bases covered before you rocket off to stardom and success.

Practicing the Spirit of the Law: Serve Your Customer Better

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article |Serve your Customer|Practicing the Spirit of the Law: Serve Your Customer BetterWhether through anecdotes or personal experience, we’re all familiar with business leaders who cut corners, inflate prices, make misleading product claims, slander the competition—and worse—yet sleep soundly at night. How can good people persist in bad business practices?

In conjunction with the spirit of the law is your business and personal ethics. Many people see ethics and business as separate entities. This belief is wrong. An individual’s business ethics and personal ethics must be aligned if one is to be a person of integrity. When a person of integrity does business, financial rewards follow.

When we build an ethical reputation, we will increase our profits.There is a positive relationship between business ethics and profitability. Our employees will be more dedicated to doing their jobs efficiently, and our customers will be more satisfied with our products and service. Loyal customers buy more products and give customer referrals.

Human beings are placed on Earth to grow spiritually, and honesty in business provides this challenge. The marketplace is a perfect testing ground for ethics. When this challenge is met, you can take satisfaction in your accomplishments and your legacy. You corrected your unethical behavior and embraced honest, transparent, and trustworthy business practices. Ethics is now taught to the next generation of businesspeople.

The Spirit of the Law

Of course, the letter of the law must always be met. But we should use a higher purpose in business decision-making—the guiding principle of the spirit of the law. A person may act in a way which is perfectly legal but not ethical. The key is to determine if a person’s deeds go beyond the letter of the law and reach the higher ethical standards of the spirit of the law.

After my salespeople learn the foundation of honest selling, I teach the higher levels of ethical selling, to go beyond the letter of the law. One of my favorite teaching examples is a time-honored story about the first offer.

Biblical and Contemporary Examples

It happened that a righteous businessman had some very fine wine for sale and a potential buyer came to him while he was in the middle of his morning prayers. The customer said, “Sell me this wine for such and such price.” The businessman did not answer, so as not to interrupt his prayers. The customer assumed that the businessman was unwilling to settle for the price offered, so the customer increased his original offer and said, “Sell me this wine for such and such price.” Still the businessman did not answer. This cycle was repeated with ever-escalating prices. Upon finishing his prayers, the businessman said, “From the time you made your first offer, I resolved in my mind to sell the wine to you. Therefore, I may take no greater amount than your first offer.”

The sages made this parable an example of proper ethical behavior, stating, “There would have been no question if he had said verbally, ‘I will sell you this for the price you offer,’ but even if he merely resolved silently in his mind to sell his product for the offered price, even if he did not articulate it, he must not go back on that resolution.”

This decision embodies the concept of ‘going beyond the letter of the law,’ to instead conduct your business within the greater spirit of the law, an ideal everyone should strive to emulate. The sages laud the righteous businessman for his exemplary behavior and proclaim the verse ‘speaks truth in his heart.’ The businessman ‘agreed in his heart’ to the original price; his silence was simply misconstrued by the buyer. Of course, making up one’s mind without verbalizing it does not constitute a binding agreement, but resolving to do so demonstrates an unusually high level of ethical behavior.

Two thousand years later in the twentieth century, the owner of a scrap metal business had a policy to always close his business for the Sabbath. The day after the Sabbath, he listened to numerous voice messages from a government agent offering to buy all the scrap metal in his possession for an urgent building project. Each of the buyer’s successive and obviously urgent messages increased the price because the government agent thought the initial offerings must have been too low. When the owner reviewed all the messages, he contacted the agent and explained that he would have accepted the first offer; he had neglected to answer the initial call, as well as all the subsequent calls, only because it was the Sabbath. He then indicated that he was prepared to let the government have all his scrap metal at the price of the first offer. The agent was so impressed by the owner’s ethical behavior that he made the firm extremely wealthy as the government’s main supplier of building materials.

Another example, what would you consider an advertorial? It’s an advertisement camouflaged to appear as a feature article. Is an advertorial legal—yes. But is it ethical?—no! By typesetting and carefully writing an advertisement as an unbiased opinion, the reader is misled, deceived into believing that the content is not commercial.

Print and Website Decision-making

Management should make business decisions based on delivering reader value. Beyond what is legal, does the magazine present promotional material as regular content? Is the ad-to-content ratio correct so the reader is delivered proper value? Does management investigate their advertisers to ensure that they have business integrity, and their product offerings are honest? Even an advertisement that has a negative reference to a competitor can harm your magazine’s or website’s reputation.

In today’s difficult financial times, is it wise to turn away companies willing to place expensive advertisements? Yes—if it is unethical.

When these types of questions factor into your decision-making, you are practicing the spirit of the law. Then, you will enjoy profitable long-term relationships with your readers and advertisers.

Ethical business is smart business. If you’re pondering what to do in difficult sales situation, and you’re unsure about whether it’s your responsibility to provide full disclosure by informing or warning the customer about a product’s limitations, then err on the side of caution, fairness, and goodness—go beyond the letter of the law. It may not be your responsibility legally, but it honors the spirit of the law.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Joel MalkoffJoel Malkoff, a.k.a. the Ethics Giver, demonstrates that ethical business decision-making isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s the profitable thing to do. Over the course of his 45-year career as a business executive and entrepreneur, he has generated more than half a billion dollars in sales. A writer and speaker on ethical business practices and principles, he serves as general manager and vice president of a corporation that manufactures and sells medical and scientific research products worldwide. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he lives in Avon, Connecticut, with his wife, Lynn. Selling Ethically: A Business Parable Connecting Integrity with Profits is his debut book. Learn more at https://theethicsgiver.com/selling-ethically and https://www.amazon.com/Selling-Ethically-Business-Connecting-Integrity-ebook/dp/B08KSB9HY3.

3 Startup Essentials That Cannot Be Overlooked

StrategyDriven Starting Your Business Article |Startup Essentials|3 Startup Essentials That Cannot Be OverlookedIf you’re just starting your business journey and you have a company about to be launched, you might be wondering whether or not you’ve got everything in place. After all, you only have one chance to make a good first impression (or a bad one, come to that), and it can feel rather overwhelming when you consider how much you want your business to succeed and how much work you need to put into it.

For many who have never run a business before, it might seem as though there are dozens of different elements that need to come together to make it a success, but in reality, when you’re a startup, there are only three that you really need to be thinking about. Ensure these three startup essentials are in place, and you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Funding

A startup without the right funding is doomed to failure. Even if you start to make money, without having some form of capital behind you, the income will be too slow to make an impact, and before you can really make anything of your business, it will be too late – you will have run out of money. This is why it’s important to have funding in place before you launch. You can then focus on building the business rather than having to worry about keeping it afloat.

When you think of getting money for your business you will probably consider a bank loan first of all. It might even be the only thing you consider. However, there are a large number of different funding methods to think about including finding an angel investor, using your savings, borrowing from friends and family, or even using the money you’ve made through your algorithmic trading. Whatever you choose, as long as you have a plan to pay it back, you can get started even if the bank turns you down.

Customer Service

Most entrepreneurs are looking inwards when they launch their business. They’re interested in their suppliers, their employees, how productive they can be, and, of course, how much money they are making. Although this is important, you must remember that you’ll need to look outwards too; you’ll need to think about your customers.

Customer service is one of the most important elements to get right in any business, and when you’re launching a startup good customer service is vital. It’s what is going to set you apart from the rest, and it’s what will get you noticed. Customers expect a high level of good service, and if you can provide it they will be happy to return again and again. Get it wrong, and you’ll find that your unhappy customer has told everyone they know, and probably used social media to do it. That spells disaster for a young business. Reputation is everything.

Social Media

Speaking of social media, that is another important element of business that a startup is going to need to have in place before they launch. In fact, your social media channels could even help your launch by previewing what you’re going to be selling and making potential customers interested before you even get started.

However, just having an account on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, for example, isn’t going to be enough. Posting once in a while and writing ads when you do isn’t going to be enough. You need to focus on the content and ensure that whatever you are posting is useful information and engaging too. In this way, it is more likely to be liked and shared, and that’s crucial for a business on social media.