In business and life, acknowledging that times are changing, and that we need to adapt can be difficult, and psychologically, embracing change is harder as we age. In business, how we handle these changes and how quickly we move to a point of acceptance and responsibility, and further away from denial and anger, can be the difference between keeping up with your competitors and keeping the doors open.
If there is one thing that is guaranteed in our lives, it is that there will be change. It could be markets, technology, online or new competition, construction, or other unforeseen circumstances. You can look for someone or something to blame, or you can focus on what is in your control to change it.
Here are a few things that are within your control:
Turn Fear into Action
Don’t be afraid of taking the time to take an honest look at your business to see if your products and services are keeping up with current trends. How can you adapt your business to compete? Where are the opportunities for growth? For example, if you are in the food business, you might monitor popular diets, delivery options, services and online competition. You may have a fear of how you might get from point A to point B, however, being stuck where you are is what you should actually be afraid of.
Prioritize the Marketing Basics
Keep your website up to date and respond to good and bad reviews. Measure and evaluate where you are spending your advertising dollars and see if you are getting a good return on investment. Claim your social media pages and post regularly, even if it is every other week. People respond to visual material so show them what you’ve got in photos and video. There are plenty of apps that make it easy to edit and increase the quality and content of your images. Make your business easy to access, whether online or brick and mortar, by updating your business listings, especially Google, to accurately reflect where you are and what you do. Put yourself in the position of a customer and anticipate their experience.
Provide Great Customer Service
If there is one thing that online companies and large retailers have struggled with, it is prompt, quality, customer service. Give people a reason to overcome any barriers. Read your reviews and instead of dismissing them, look for trends. Distinguish your business from the others by providing services, or by focusing on a niche in the market. Evaluate your pricing and accessibility to your audience. For example: If you are in the clothing business, you may provide assistance with styling and fitting, so let people know. Ask your most loyal customers to recommend your business to others.
Use What You’ve Got
Changes can be short-term or long-term, from a temporary road closure to a shift in the economic center of your area. Look at what others are doing to respond to similar changes in your area and other communities. You do not need to reinvent the wheel! Also, take the time to approach your municipality, Chamber of Commerce, or business district professionals to constructively address any issues and take advantage of the services they provide.
Regardless of the change that is needed, focus on where you are, and breaking down large tasks into smaller goals that are achievable. Sometimes we feel that if we can’t do something perfectly, only our best, that we shouldn’t do it at all. Try not to focus on the outcome which may create stress, instead take responsibility for what you can change, and be consistent about the inputs that you can control.
“It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.” —W. Edwards Deming