Hope and Wait are Not Good Business Strategies

Updated: June 28, 2010

2 MONTHS! They waited almost 12 months thinking that what they were doing was enough to right the ship. Now as they are taking on water, they decide to reach out and get the help they need in hopes that it is not too late.

Our latest economic typhoon is not the first our country has ever experienced and it won't be the last. In terms of severity, it definitely has been rough. Just about all mainstream businesses have been hit with declining revenues, loss of customers and a steady stream of financial blood oozing out of the front door. Not every business, however, is doing poorly. The fact remains, over 90% of all small businesses fail before their 5th year in business regardless of the economy. It's not what you think you know that keeps you moving forward, it's what you take action on.

In my role as a small business coach, I see this scenario played out over and over. Business owners that do not engage in the most effective revenue generating activities, i.e. sales and marketing will eventually lose to those that do. But it is not necessary that you know how to do they things well, just that you realize you need to do them. My 2 acquaintances had never stopped to think that because they really did not need to market themselves 5 years ago, they could get away with it today. Indeed, the business owners who have always participated in marketing now find themselves totally confused by the changes in the marketplace and the way to effectively market them.

So why do so many people who clearly need the help and are losing money every month that they don't get the help, so willing to wait in hopes that things improve on their own! It has to do with 'gradual decline'. When your circumstances change rapidly, the shock will usually get you to take action to rectify the problem- ex. your house catches fire! But when the change comes on slowly, people tend to acclimate to the change while they ponder what to do about it. Sometimes the problem goes away; sometimes you perish with the problem.

Growing any business requires a strategy. Everything you do needs to be clearly defined, well thought out and focused on specific goals that deliver the results you want. If this is not your strength or you find that the game has changed so much that you no longer know what to do, don't 'wait' and 'hope' for the surroundings to change- initiate the change yourself.

Let's put in terms that most business owners understand. Let us say that 2 years ago, your business was pulling in $20,000 per month on average. However, over the last 18 months, the monthly declines have now put your business at $12,000. You are losing $8,000 each month. This is actually very common right now. What would you do or spend to get that $8,000 back? If you knew your business was capable of doing $20,000 a month and there were similar businesses doing this much, how long would you wait to start working your way back to the level you once had?

You can also make the case that with some business segments going away; you may have new opportunities for growth. If you think that there are opportunities to grow by $10,000 to $20,000 per month, would you be willing to get some help to get there?

It all depends on what you want and what you are willing to put up with if you can't figure it out on your own. One of the biggest growth industries today is adult education. Displaced workers and managers are spending thousands of their own dollars to get more education in 'hopes' of landing a job. Business owners who are struggling now should be doing the same thing to maximize the business investment they have worked so hard to create.

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