AS an entrepreneur, we can agree that being our own boss can be a joy and a burden. You know, it’s never easy to build a business.
We are responsible for tough decisions and ensure that our business is still relevant in the marketplace.
In difficult times, with proper planning and effective management efforts, a business can overcome these turbulent periods and emerge relatively unscathed.
Challenging times also happens when there is a general slowdown in business activities of a company due to a particular recession problem that is facing a country at that moment. This could cause drastic and unpredictable negative effects on a business.
Be it an SME or a big business, no one is immune to the effects of economic recessions. Hence, learning to thrive and grow in difficult situations is essential for our survival in any industry.
Instead, when a crisis hits hard, control the situation and take positive action!
Here are some ideas shared below by KC See, CEO of Quest MasteryAsia Group Sdn Bhd, a serial entrepreneur and business consultant for many businesses in Asia with over 35 years experience in the industry.
1. Capitalise on The Crisis
“Crisis” comes from a Chinese word meaning both “danger” and “opportunity”. Taking its literal meaning, we can conclude that every crisis comes with an opportunity. But, when a crisis arises we’re not the only ones that are affected right?
Slowing down our business like the rest of the companies will only throw away our only chance to tackle the crisis and turn it into something that can benefit us.
Amidst a crisis, don’t perceive it as a threat but instead, room to make good decisions to make to achieve unbeatable success.
2. Increase Your Sales Channels
What do sales mean?
Well, according to KC, sales are equal to AxBxC and each of them represents different elements that can increase our sales.
A – The number of customers
B – The size of the transaction
C – Frequency of purchase
This is only a conceptual way of looking at sales. Before we can increase the sales channels of our company, we must first increase sales. The question is, how?
Strategically there are 3 things we can do to increase sales and the major one is by increasing the number of customers.
Referral selling is the most powerful and least expensive way to bring more customers to cause the snowball effect where customers would bring their friends or family to our business, and personally contact us to purchase goods.
However, before we can bring referral selling into operation, we have to train our staff to do cross-selling and upselling. One way to do this is by bundling where we sell packages and bundles as supermarkets might do for certain goods. Food chain restaurants often use bundling such as McDonald’s value meals.
Once we have gained more sales, then we can start planning on increasing the sales channels of our company.
Set up a referral system
A referral system is not something that can be left unbothered without any supervision. As business owners, we can’t expect our customers to refer back to us merely by them feeling happy with their previous purchase. That is not happening!
If we wish to gain customers, we must treat them as if they hold the door to the gold mines. We need to train our staff to be warm and friendly to our customers by making conversations with them, maybe a little praise on how good they look here and there, and constantly greet them as if they’re your friend to make them feel like their presence is welcomed and highly anticipated.
Referral selling would more fruitful if we provide customers with rewards like coupons as a reason to make them come back.
Design a loyalty system that works
No one system will work for everybody so we have to try and error each customer loyalty programme to measure whether they increase the frequency compared to another method which might or might not.
Stamp cards is one of the examples of a customer loyalty programme which can be a hassle for the consumers. Not only will it take a long time until you’re able to collect all the stamps and get the reward, but they always take so much space in the wallet!
The idea of getting customers to buy more or for them to come back more often is the function of the staff to make that happen. So, train our staff to cross-sell and upsell to give excellent customer experience and satisfaction where they will willingly come back to our business.
Whatever industry we’re in, what business we’re doing, what country we’re from, going online is a widely known strategy to increase our sales channel.
Importantly, we have to go mobile. Have you ever walked in public seeing at least one person without a smartphone in their hand? Possible, but very rare!
Nowadays, everybody has a mobile in their hand all the time and it has become a normal thing. Use that as an advantage and explore mobile marketing as a way to increase our sales channel.
Becoming a social business influencer is also one of the ways that we could brand ourselves only by building a profile without spending thousands of advertising dollars. Don’t know how to become one? Click here!
Explore other industries
Stop being cooped up in a little bubble! We need to venture out from our normal field of operation because if we stay in the same industry for some time, our perspective on things tends to be fixed a certain way.
Do research on an industry that is different from ours so that we can generate new ideas that we won’t find in our industry. Looking for new ideas within our own industry is going to make it tough to innovate something creative.
Airbnb was not invented by people from the hotel industry, but by interior designers.
Besides that, here’s a tricky question we should ask, by increasing A, B and C, which one will give better results in our sales? The answer is whether you increase A, B or C, mathematically it’s the same.
Thus, instead of deciding on which one will be the most profitable to use, figure out which one will be the most costly? Most difficult? Requires the most resources?
3. Re-engineer Your Business Model
In any business, one of the critical factors of success is to determine our business model. A business model describes the rationale of how a business creates, delivers and captures value.
Many business organisations got stuck with one particular business model which might be successful in the beginning. But, as things change the business model might not be suitable anymore.
We must revisit our business model occasionally to adapt to the current market and technology trends that are always changing over time.
As an example, Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Inc understood his target audience and adapted strong marketing tactics for that audience consistently. Throughout the years, Apple has evolved into a brand that promises to create the next best thing to make consumer lives easier and better because “the only thing that’s changed is everything.”
Re-examine business models based on 9 segments that will always place us at the highest level in the industry:
- Who are our target customers?
- What is our business’ value proposition?
- What are the channels we are using now? What will happen to it in the future and what changes can be made now?
- How is the customer relationship between us and the customers? Is it a direct sale or is there an intermediary?
- What about the revenue streams? How many are there? Where?
- What are the key resources required?
- What are the key activities of our organisation? Is there a need to move it to another platform?
- What are the key partnerships that we currently require to keep the business going?
- Is there any change or transformation required in terms of our cost structure?
What are the possible results of re-engineering your business model?
- Cut out customers that you don’t want, which is the goal of all businesses to choose our own customers.
- Change payment modes that would help the business.
- Reduce outlets to online platforms.
- Reduce dependency on staff to technology.
- Explore possible additional revenue streams that could add a bigger opportunity for your organisation.
4. Start Collaborating
Leverage is about finding people who have what we don’t have and work with them to create a win-win situation. In a fast-moving market, it’s not possible to do everything by ourselves, making it essential to look for organisations we can work with.
Other businesses are always open to collaborating as long as they’re gaining something from it too. On that account, to sell our products to another company’s customers, there needs to be an agreement where the other company is also allowed to sell their products to our customers.
By collaborating, we won’t have anything to lose as we’re still deriving revenue. But, if you plan to gain more income than only depending on your business, click here.
How to collaborate with another business?
We have to be in the right community of the industry to leverage well. Don’t let ourselves become so focused on our own businesses that we don’t have time to network with other people.
This is a question to ask ourselves to search for an organisation to collaborate with: Who else has the same target market as my business but does not have the same product or service?
Organisations falling under this description would be fitting to consider.
5. Redefine your Differences
Brand an organisation or product to capture the market to come to us. In a sea of many businesses, what distinct our business from others?
Learn these simple formula called marketing physics which starts by asking these questions:
Who are our customers? – A lot of businesspeople have challenges in defining this because they want to conquer everybody. We should narrow down our target market to a specific group of people that has a high possibility to be interested in our products.
What are we offering? – Also called as the principle of the overt benefit, we need to know what are we providing them in terms of benefits once we define our consumer. And it has to be clear and precise so that they know exactly what you are selling.
How do they know we’re going to deliver our promise? – Give consumers a reason to believe in our business. Today’s market is becoming more sceptical caused by over-promised advertisements. Unless we can define exactly how we are going to deliver that product and services, consumers will not believe that what we say is going to be fulfilled.
What makes our product and service different? – A consumer can question, “Why should I buy this from you? Why not someone else who provides the same product/service?.” To overcome obstacles like this, we need to have powerful justification to explain why our products or service is better than everyone else’s.
5 powerful strategies to make our business trustable:
- Simple logic – quickly and easily understood what’s good about our product and what makes us say that
- Personal experience – sampling, demonstrations, sensory
- Pedigree – development, marketing, trademark
- Testimonial – customer, expert, media endorsement
- Guarantee – Give consumers the guarantee that our product is the best choice supported by a clean reasoning
Most importantly, create a demanding difference that could convince the customers to buy from you and not all strategy works for all businesses. Each business is only suitable for only a few of the strategies.
All in all, there are multiple constructive ways to build our business successfully in challenging times. Tough times don’t mean a business is promised to fail. Tough times mean we have to make tough decisions to ensure the business survives and continues to prosper!
However, according to Taiwo Adeleke’s research on How to Plan Ahead for Hard Times in Business, it is dangerous to assume that what we have done in the past will always work because the new market demands new changes.
If you want to be mentored by KC See on how to build a successful business, click here to find out more!