The world of business can be harsh, incredibly competitive and routinely stressful. In some sectors it can be difficult to survive, let alone thrive, and sometimes it may seem easier to throw in the towel rather than keep striving for another day.
However, while running a business is rarely easy, there are certain things you can do to ensure you stay on the right track and give your company the best possible chance of succeeding.
No matter how good your business model, product or service, there is always room for improvement. You need to continually update and enhance your approach to refine your offering and take advantage of the latest technology. If you sit still and rest on your laurels, you can be certain that your rivals will be more than willing to update their model and subsequently steal your customers. Sitting still is as good as moving backwards.
Understand what the customer wants
Do you know exactly what your customer is looking for? Do you know the products and services they truly value? Do you know how they want you to communicate with them? Are you aware of what, other than price, influences purchasing decisions? If you don’t know the answer to these questions, then there is certainly room for improvement.
Research has found that customer emotion is 1.5 times more likely to influence a purchasing decision than brand loyalty, so it is worth taking your time to learn more about your consumers.
Turn your failures into successes
This is, of course, easier said than done, but there’s no doubt that understanding why things have gone wrong, and then subsequently updating or altering your approach, is vital if you want your business to succeed.
Amazon, which was recently named the most valuable brand in the world, has made mistakes in the past – sometimes at a cost of billions of dollars – and has been able to not only bounce back, but to progress on the back of them.
The purchase of retail competitor Zappos for $1.2bn in 2009, for example, is estimated to have cost Amazon billions in terms of marketing, advertising and underperforming products. Similarly, the launch (and subsequent failure) of the Fire – a smartphone designed to rival devices released by Apple and Samsung – was revealed to have cost Amazon at least $170 million, although this figure is probably much higher in reality. When the Amazon website went down for only 40 minutes in 2013, furthermore, the company could have lost as much as $4.72 million in missed sales.
Amazon started from incredibly humble beginnings, and has only managed to grow to the retail giant it is today by taking risks, looking for gaps in the market and constantly adapting its approach. If Amazon is not afraid to fail from time to time, then neither should you be.
Spend time on marketing
It’s easy for marketing to fall down the agenda, especially if you’re running a small business, but it is essential you get your name out there. It doesn’t matter how good your product or service is if nobody has heard of it, so utilise marketing – be it social media, email, TV or radio – to shout about your business.
Don’t take on too much yourself
When it comes to running a business it can be tempting to try and take on numerous roles yourself in a bid to cut costs. However, this is rarely the best course of action. If you have accounting to do, work with an accountant. If you need to develop a marketing campaign, use a marketer. However, consider whether you want to hire someone full time or if you’d be better off working with agencies or freelancers.
When running a business you need to fill your days with keeping things ticking over, talking to clients and developing new relationships. At some point you will need to trust other people to do work on your behalf, but always make sure you are spending money in the right areas.