Building something from the ground up is back-breaking work- but it’s also exhilarating. You carve out your niche and strike a business model that works, and finally the rewards start trickling in. For a small business owner, each success is hard won, making that first taste of success even sweeter.
Once you’ve gotten that success the big question is: how do you keep it from slipping through your fingers? Conventional wisdom suggests you stay the course – whatever you’re doing must be working, so stick to what’s proven – but in today’s marketplace, it’s not that simple.
The marketplace jungle is a dog-eat-dog world, where the climate’s always changing and only the fittest survive. Whether you want your business to do everything for your customers or to do just one thing really well, the ability to adapt is key to being a pack leader. The only way to hold on to your customer base is to be willing and prepared to change along with them.
As management consultant Peter Conan notes, there are all kinds of strategies to stay ahead of changing customer needs. Here are five of his suggestions to help you prepare your business to evolve with the marketplace:
- Carve out new paths – not just the one you’re already on. It’s not just a matter of preparing your business for the future – you must be prepared for multiple potential futures. Developing a branching, hypothetical business model guarantees that your business plan is flexible enough to adapt to unexpected developments in the industry and changes to your customer base. If you are ready to change the course of your business in response to the market you will be ready to meet the evolving needs of your customers.
- Build a strong pack. Populate your company with creative, forward-thinking decision-makers who understand your industry and can independently rethink your strategy. Bring together a team of innovators who can keep their ears to the ground and stay on top of your customers’ needs.
- Know the food chain. Your business’ value network contains all the industries required to bring your product from raw material to the end consumer. By mapping out and analyzing this network, you can gain valuable insights about which companies are enjoying the most growth and how you can replicate their success; for example, which customer segments are adopting your services, and which products are contributing to the success of your leading competitors.
- Listen to nature. When experimenting with a new product or strategy, test the waters with a soft release, and gather as much feedback from the market as you can quickly and inexpensively. Use this feedback to adapt and improve on your original plan.
- Embrace environmental change. Don’t wait and see if a new shift in consumer habits is a temporary trend or if it’s here to stay. When new technologies arise and gain favor in your customer base, the early-adopting businesses are the ones that will cash in on these customers and gain their loyalty. Don’t wait for the latest technology to go mainstream – if you support it from the start, the consumers that adopt it will support you in return.
The latest shift in consumer habits is toward m-commerce. Consumers are moving away from cash and increasingly favoring purchases made on their tablets and smartphones. Smart companies are hurrying to provide their customers with convenient and secure support for online credit card and e-wallet payments.
Payza can provide your business with the tools to survive the consumer shift to electronic and mobile commerce. Our award-winning online payment platform allows your customers to pay their way in three simple steps, and with our Featured Merchant Program, we can help you promote your organization through our social media channels and email campaigns.