One of the biggest challenges I find many small business owners face is dealing with complacency. When a new business first starts out, owners are overcome with excitement with every forward step. But at one point or another, the excitement of the early days starts to slow down, and eventually your company may begin to experience a plateau.
A stagnant business is one that faces little to no new activity for an extended period of time. Complacency tends to come from sticking with the status quo and getting used to your business’s “comfort zone”. Many business owners adhere to the mindset of “if it was working for the first 5 years, why change it now?” The truth is, sometimes change is exactly what you need to revitalize your business and get it growing again.
If you’re facing complacency in your business, below are 5 steps for revitalizing your business to get it back on track for growth.
1) Find out what your customers want
A lack of understanding about what your customers truly want from your business can be detrimental to your small business. This is why engaging in market research is essential to drive your company’s growth. Have you had a conversation with your customers to find out what needs are being met, and what needs aren’t? By hiring a market research company or a marketing agency with a specialization in market research to conduct unbiased market research, you will be able to gain invaluable information about your customers as well as your competitors. Once you’ve done this research, you’ll have a much better idea about how you can fulfill your customers’ needs to the best of your ability.
2) Focus on increases in certain sectors and products
Your industry landscape changes at such a rapid pace, and as a small business owner, it’s important that you keep up-to-date with it. Look at projected growth sectors to get an understanding of which products or services are headed for long-term growth, and which ones are on the decline. Some may be obvious, but others may not be so apparent. This is why it’s crucial to take the time and do proper research. Once you have a better idea about the projected growth rate of certain sectors, consider shifting your business model to become more aligned with these industry changes.
3) Re-examine former revenue sources
While focusing on changes in the industry landscape is important, equally important is looking at what has traditionally brought you revenue. After the first few years of your business, you may have lost focus on areas that were once reliable sources of revenue for your company. Have you steered your attention towards niche areas as a result of increased demand, and lost sight of your more dependable revenue sources? If your business has stalled, one of the first things you should do is gauge whether or not you have neglected some of your core competencies at the expense of chasing something new.
4) Review your company’s operations
I’ve found that many small businesses do not focus enough time and energy on their internal operations. Often, owners struggle to let go of the “startup” mindset they once had. This is a shame, as a company’s internal operations can have a huge influence on the productivity of their business. As your business grows, it’s important you grow with it. In a previous blog, I discussed the importance of delegation. Are you delegating work where necessary? Have you considered outsourcing certain tasks to allow you to focus on growing your business?
5) Create a plan
The only way you will be able to properly execute the above steps is if you have a solid plan in place. It’s essential you know exactly what resources are required and how much time and energy is needed to accomplish what you want done. Understanding these two key areas will allow you to set realistic short-term and long-term goals for your business. Remember, making any large-scale changes to your company takes time, so patience is needed to see through your goals.
It is important to keep the momentum going in order for your business not to stall. Although complacency is a frustrating obstacle to face, it is quite common. By following these 5 steps on how to revitalize your business, you’ll be equipped with the confidence to move forward and make the necessary changes needed to get your business back on the track you want it to be.
It is impossible for both the owner of a large corporation or a small business, to be everywhere at once. Keeping track of business functions including payroll, inventory, managing staff, business planning and analysis cannot be done by one person alone. According to recent industry stats, 70% of individuals in leadership roles are uncomfortable transferring their responsibility to a subordinate and less than 30% of companies today provide training to enhance the leader’s delegation techniques.
As you begin your business, taking on all of the tasks may be a reality however as you grow, you will have less time to spend on things that need your attention. Spreading yourself too thin and trying to have your efforts in every area of the business will not serve you well and you will be risking the true potential of the business.
At this point delegation, or distribution of responsibilities to employees, is needed. Delegating work allows you to offload responsibilities to employees and allows you to focus on larger business matters. Here are a few reasons why I believe delegation is important in any business:
1. Expands the capabilities of the company
Delegation creates a chance to progress and grow the company. Through delegating, you can develop new divisions or departments of the company. New divisions and department can create new positions allowing those that are qualified to move up and advance their career in your business. As this happens your business will grow in all directions.
2. Frees up the leader to address higher value activities
By delegating tasks to employees, you as the owner, are able to attend to critical business functions and address areas that matter the most. Some of these may involve future planning of the business, developing your business strategy and analyzing your performance. By putting delegation practices in place, the business as a whole will grow and efficiency within the organization will improve.
3. More responsibility for employees means overall business growth
Delegation helps not only the manager or owner of the company keep good business order but also helps employees to feel important and responsible for their own actions and responsibilities. Having employees responsible for their own tasks gives them a sense of purpose and drives them to perform at their best, as it is their name on the line. Giving them a sense of entitlement allows your business to flourish as this applies to all levels of staff. Delegating tasks to employees is a great way to motivate the team and keep them moving up in your business.
Retaining quality employees allows for successful business. Delegating and allowing employees to take on more responsibility allows them the opportunity to develop and grow in their career and it allows you as the owner to put your efforts where they matter most – growing your business.
Remember back in January of this year, when your vision for your business was fresh and clear in your mind, when your business goals and objectives had a well-defined path to achievement? If you are like most business owners, your vision may have remained the same, but the execution and delivery to meet your goals and achievements was not exactly how you had planned. This is typical of most businesses, as our plans cannot possibly allow for unpredicted circumstances, whether positive or negative.
In preparing for the New Year, I encourage you to take the time to reflect on this past year and start preparing your plans for the New Year by considering the following questions:
- Revisit the tracking of your business plan and any other planning documents including your action plan, and review last year’s goals. Did your business accomplish what you set out to do? Why or why not? Write a list of all the company’s major accomplishments for the year (or lack of them). These will be handy when you do your business planning for the current year.
- What barriers prevented you from reaching your goals? How can you avoid them or prepare for them in 2016?
- What is the key area you want to improve on in 2016? What steps do you need to take to accomplish this e.g. hire more staff, expand into new markets, increase marketing/branding, etc.?
- Are there things you might have done differently e.g. hired too quickly, expanded too quickly, didn’t hire fast enough, etc.?
- Have you started a business plan for 2016 that includes writing your goals and plans for next year?
- Have you created a budget for the next year if you work on a calendar year fiscal basis?
- Have you reviewed your vendors and providers recently? Do you need new ones or replacements for existing ones? Review your list and score them, see where you might need to add or even get rid of any that are not providing you with added value.
- Have you reviewed and updated your marketing and advertising plans? Make sure you consult with your internal or external marketing professional to ensure you are strategically placing your marketing budget to align with your business goals.
We all know how important business planning is, so before you break for the holidays, take the time to reflect and plan for the New Year. You know the cliché: businesses that fail to plan, plan to fail.
Kick the New Year off with a clear plan with attainable goals and remember to take time off over the holidays and enjoy time with your family and friends. Thank you for following my blog over the past year. Happy Holidays.
A great time to think about having a Team Strategic Planning Session is at the end of your fourth quarter. It’s the perfect time to engage in goal setting and strategy development for 2015. In the past, I’ve touched upon Strategic Planning Sessions, but I wanted to dive a little deeper into their value and importance this week.
Very few business owners are willing, particularly at the end of a year, to take the time to stop business for a day or two, gather their key executives together, and discuss their business goals. That said, it has been proven time and time again, that those businesses that actively participate in goal setting are far more likely to meet, if not exceed their business goals.
A main component of a team strategic planning session is goal setting, which is more powerful when done as a team. Having your key employees understand the goals and objectives of the business and how they will contribute to the strategies to achieve these goals is key.
Bringing a third party business advisor into the session is also important to consider, as they are an unbiased expert there solely to help your team, and ultimately your business. Their expertise will provide direction and support in areas you cannot as well as help steer the conversation to constructive takeaways. How can an advisor, and these sessions, help exactly?
- Clarifying the crucial long term objectives
- Identifying pressing business challenges that are hindering growth
- Focusing on building a profitable business one strategic step at a time
- Formulating actionable plans to implement those ideas
With your executive team participating at these sessions, they can take a more active role in ensuring the goals are met through strategic planning and execution. Having them be accountable and have ownership of the direction of the business helps you build a stronger more viable team. As the owner, you are able to follow up with your team on the actionable items and ensure your meetings are effective and efficient.
Have you benefited from team strategic planning sessions? Do you feel your team is need of one? Let me know your experiences in the comments section below!
Boosting Team Morale During the Holidays!
The holidays are fast approaching, and while it is a very happy and exciting time, it also is a period of high stress for many! With lots of shopping to be done and countless holiday functions to attend with family, friends, and work, the holidays can be quite an overwhelming time.
At this time of year, I’m often asked how employers can keep their employees motivated and energized during the busy build-up to the holiday season. While you can’t control what is happening in the lives of your employees outside of the office, there are a few things you can do for them at work to boost office morale, such as:
- Acknowledge accomplishments/hard work.
- Creating an encouraging environment that recognizes the hard work of your employees will remind them that they are appreciated and their work is valued. They are less likely to let their work suffer during a busy time when they know their impact is important!
- Allow for time-off if employees are overwhelmed.
- If you recognize your employees are overwhelmed, granting an hour or two for personal time can go a long way in helping them focus on their work for the time they are in the office. Their productivity won’t be as great if they are thinking of the million things they have to do when they’re off the clock.
- Offer rewards and personal perks.
- Incentives will keep everyone determined and engaged – and a little friendly competition doesn’t hurt! Setting attainable goals will push your employees in a positive way.
- Keep things fun!
- Ensuring your workplace environment has an element of fun to it is important – nobody works well in a perpetually boring atmosphere! Allow your employees to have fun with one another in a common space, like a lunchroom, and they’ll be able to focus better when at their desks.
While it is inevitable your employees will suffer a “spring fever” type syndrome due to the holiday season, these small tips will help keep everyone on track and productive!
Do you have any tips for keeping your team engaged during busy and overwhelming times of the year? I’d like to hear from you! Let me know in the comments.
When most people are asked the question, “what makes a great leader?” the responses are predictable, with a list of qualities that most often includes confidence, charisma, and energy. But there is a whole other type of leader that tends to be forgotten: the silent leader.
What exactly is quiet leadership? Simply put, it is the ability to inspire, motivate, and encourage through action instead of words. While a boisterous leader may have the right effect in some cases, they are certainly not the right fit for every company or team. Fortunately, anyone can adopt a quiet leadership style by practicing a few important behaviours that I’ve detailed below:
- Effective Listening
- An ability to listen to others and actually hear what is said will ensure everyone feels respected and has ownership in the work of the company.
- To be a successful quiet leader, your employees must trust you implicitly. Being truthful will ensure loyalty from your followers.
- This goes hand in hand with honesty. While remaining quiet, you must still ensure you are open and approachable to your team.
- Even as a leader, you do not put yourself above your team. You hold yourself to the same standards and accountability as your employees.
Keep in mind that although a quiet leader may be in the background a lot of the time, they still have an air confidence about them that people respond to. Leading by example and not just “talking the talk” can be the best way to motivate your staff. When you build the right relationships with your employees, you will find that you no longer have to be loud in order for them to listen.
Have you ever adopted a quiet leadership style within a team? Was it successful? Please share your experiences in the comments!