One of the most important qualities in keeping your business thriving? Fluidity. Being static or resting on past laurels, even clinging too rigidly to formulas that once worked but are becoming obsolete is a one-way ticket to disaster. Just as a person develops and grows over time, so should a successful business have adaptation and evolution at its heart. It doesn’t mean you have to abandon the vision and values that you got you started – simply apply them to a new direction that continues to anticipate the needs of your customer base. Conditions in the wider market, the expectations of customers, the offerings of our competitors and technology itself are always in a state of flux, and so the challenge to your business is always to find new ways of delivering the same quality. Assessing the extent of change needed is a skill in itself. Sometimes a few minor tweaks to your marketing are all it takes to stay on course, but at other times, a complete change of direction and a fundamental reassessment of the business model is more in order. Of course, making any large scale change to your business is not something which should be taken lightly, so consider all the options before making your next move.
When Is It Time To Change?
There are some red flags which may let you know if your company is drifting off course. The first, and most important, is slowing growth. Every business will see fluctuations in their fortunes over time, due in part to natural peaks and troughs in the market, and a slow period is nothing to be unexpected. However, if your metrics show a slow but persistent decline in fortunes – especially if you can access wider industry data which shows otherwise happening in other parts of your sector – then it may be time for a rethink. Another factor could be when smaller competing companies start to surpass you. If you’re comfortably over the insecurity of the start-up phase, then you may see very new businesses not as a serious threat – but that would be a huge mistake. Younger, disruptive competitors can be easy to dismiss, but you’d be better off taking their presence as a warning and an opportunity, or you may turn around to find them eating your lunch.
Time For Change
Once you’ve determined the need for a shift in direction, it’s time to start making solid plans to support that transition. Ask yourself what the market is demanding, whether your opinion is data-driver, if you have the skills in-house to transition the business or if you will need external support, for example from someone in PR or Strategic IT Consulting, and finally what resources will be required to make the change. Big changes are time-consuming, and it’s now always possible to just drop your former business model – you may need to plan for a transitional period. Identify a proactive task-force team, made up of experts from all areas of your business, plus any outside consultants. Do a scoping exercise to work out the scale and timings of your move to the new model. Develop some KPIs and look for other businesses – not necessarily from within the same industry – who have key qualities you’d like to emulate. With a united direction in sight, you can ring the changes and emerge a more dynamic, profitable organisation in the future.