There’s an old adage that the only constant is change and that’s never been more true in the business world. The growth of online sales and communication shattered old ideas about how to interact with customers. The COVID-19 pandemic added extra chaos to an already rapidly shifting world, accelerating some changes while it brought other industries to a halt. In this post we’ll cover tips on how to compete in a changing business landscape.
All this might seem a daunting challenge to an aspiring entrepreneur. But this kind of change also opens up opportunities for business owners who know how to seize them. You can open and run a successful business in 2020s turbulent economy if you follow the tips below.
1) Focus on the “why”, not the “what”.
It’s one thing to identify what’s changing in your industry, but it’s even more important to understand the forces driving that change. Knowing the motivation for changes in customer habits can help you pivot and re-position your business to meet this shifting demand.
A recent article in the Harvard Business Review described this as making a “playscript” for your business (1). When you’re analyzing your competition or customer habits, don’t just track the numbers. If you look deeper to find the logic and motivations behind the change you’ll be better able to predict the likely trajectory of future changes.
2) Build a stable base before you start to grow.
Bigger isn’t always better. The larger a company gets, the harder it is for them to pivot and make sweeping changes when they’re required. That agility loss can ultimately be a business’ downfall.
For lasting success, it’s often better to start small and grow slow. Take Jake Brog’s story as an example. When Jake founded his gym, Lab Athletics, he started in a space of just a few hundred feet. That kept his rent low, and he was able to open his business using only his credit card rather than going deep in debt with business loans.
When you start small it’s easier to shape your growth to meet customer demand and adapt as you grow to changes in the business landscape. You’ll spend less in the long run, too.
3) Keep up with trends, but don’t chase them.
Successful businesses anticipate their customer’s needs. If you’re jumping from one trend to the next, you’re reacting, not anticipating. Instead, track and analyze the trends so you can predict how the landscape will shift in the future. The more you track the trends of the past, the better your intuition will be for what’s coming next.
Social media is one of your best tools for getting a read on your customer base. Rather than spread yourself out across all of them, pick 1 or 2 platforms that are most used by your target demographic.
Any direct feedback you can get from your customers is even better. E-mail surveys and social media comments are easy ways to find out what people like about your business and what you could be doing better.
4) Aim for continuous improvement.
In a constantly changing landscape, yesterday’s best practices could be the reason you fail tomorrow. A successful company is always looking for ways they can do better. The moment you stop pushing forward, you’ll start to fall behind.
The good news is, any business can introduce a culture of continuous improvement. It starts with an honest assessment of your current strengths and weaknesses. Use this analysis to set a mix of short and long-term goals that push you toward meaningful change.
5) Embrace the virtual world.
The growing prevalence of video calling and virtual hang-out spaces has opened new online avenues for business owners, from virtual showings of homes by realtors to online yoga classes. If you own a cleaning business, for example, online consultations could be a convenient option to offer customers.
Consider ways you can take advantage of new paths to customers online. For one thing, it helps increase your visibility in your local community, drawing in new customers to your brick-and-mortar location. It also opens you up to new customers from around the world, people who never would have been able to get your goods or services otherwise. This is key when planning how to compete in a changing business landscape.
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