When it comes to entrepreneurship, two words that a company owner does not like to hear in the same sentence are “struggling” and “business”. Yet, the statistics reveal that many businesses are continuing to hear those words annually.
According to the Small Business Administration, while 7 in 10 small businesses will survive their first two years, only 51 percent will keep their doors open past five. This is definitely better than some of the previously reported numbers (95 percent would fail within five years), but if you’re headed towards being a part of that 49 percent that doesn’t make it, it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re looking for some surefire ways to not go under—to not be another business failing statistic.
They say that if you seek, you will find. Here are five top strategies to save a struggling business; five ways to get your business into the 51 percent side of start-up business success.
Get back to the basics. Studies reflect that one of the main reasons why business fail is because they started for the wrong reasons to begin with and as we all know, when a foundation is shaky, it’s hard to build anything that’s solid and lasting. If you did it because you had something to prove, that’s really not the best kind of motivation. Businesses should be started, first and foremost, as a way to provide a service that’s needed. If you’ve lost sight of that somewhere along the line, get back to your initial vision to see what should be done.
Communicate with your staff and customers. Business owners tend to put a lot of blood, sweat, tears and ego into what they do. So much so, that they may have gone along for months (years even) believing that every idea they had would be effective—that it was simply a staff’s job to implement them and the customer’s duty to appreciate them. The real truth is that your staff and customers can provide some pretty good insight and relevant suggestions because they are looking from an “outside in” perspective. Bottom line, if your business is currently suffering and you’d like to know why, ask. Hold more staff meetings and send out consumer surveys either via your website, Facebook fan page or Constant Contact newsletter. Chances are, they’ll provide you with some food for thought that you wouldn’t have even considered on your own.
Narrow your focus. Some of the most successful businesses are that way because they have mastered the concept of niche branding. It’s one thing to have a clothing store. It’s another to have a vintage boutique. It’s one thing to own a coffee shop. It’s another to own one that specializes in vegan recipes. Sometimes the issue is not that people are not interested in what you have to offer; it’s that you’re offering too many things and it starts to feel more like a “grocery store” than a “specialty market”. Whatever it is that your company offers, take a moment to think about the things that you do really well, what competitors already exist in those markets and restructure from there. Better to have too many people to serve based upon the niche that you provide than not enough based upon a generalized concept.
Rethink your marketing strategies. You might be surprised how many businesses end up closing down that people never even knew existed to begin with. Sometimes this is due to the lack of a marketing budget, but more times than not, it’s because the advertising plan that was put into place was antiquated, at best. Are you in social media? Do you have videos posted up on YouTube? Is your business listed on LinkedIn? A bright sign, a few flyers and a mention on Craigslist (usually while you’re looking for staff or interns) are all ways to start letting people know about your company, but to keep a business going continuously, effective marketing has to be implemented on daily basis.
Relocate. Do you know one of the main reasons why businesses fail? It’s because they picked a horrible location to begin with. No matter what kind of company that you have, you must think about how convenient it is (or not) in relationship to your customers. Indeed, there’s nothing more annoying than going to a restaurant that has no adequate parking or walking into a store that is in an unsafe part of town, or even worse a store that has two that are basically just like it on the same block. If you need to rethink where you are and relocate to somewhere else, or even if you need to close down for a season and operate either out of your home or online, that’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. Everything in life requires transition in order for it to continue to flourish and grow.