When you first came up with the idea for your business, what you really did was make a hypothesis about what would be successful. You based this hypothesis on a number of factors, I’m sure, but ultimately it was a guess. Many of the things which you predicted to happen likely did, while others may not have happened as you expected. Through the trial and error of starting your business, you likely made a serious of changes, some significant, to account for things that didn’t go as you planned. However, at what point is a more significant change in direction required?
1. Growth has Slowed or Stopped – If you have seen a significant reduction in growth, it is time to look at why that is happening. If it is a timing issue and things will correct in a few months, that is one thing, but if your numbers are going down while the industry is going up, you may need to consider a bigger change.
2. Your Competitors are Beating You – There is nothing wrong with seeing your competitors do well. It is when they do well at your expense that you need to worry. If you find that your customers are leaving to go to a competitor, or that your competitors are outpacing you significantly when they weren’t in the past, it might be time to figure out why.
3. Your Customers are not Satisfied – If your customer base is shrinking and going to a competitor, you want to know why. Similarly, if your customers are looking for a product you don’t offer, you may want to consider expanding. Customer wants are constantly changing, and you need to keep up with them.
4. Your Employees are Telling You – Depending on the size of your business, you may not have direct contact with clients, distributors, or even analysts. But those in your company who do will often have great insights into what your business needs to do to remain competitive. If your sales team is clamoring for a new pricing option that the competition offers, then listen. It just might save your business.
Making a significant change to your business can be hard, but when done right it can be just the move to get you past a plateau and continue growth. Inflexibility is the quickest way to see a profitable business go under, but by looking for these warning signs you should be able to stay ahead of any needed changes.