By: Leandra | September 17, 2020

We Are Open Sign

By: Christina Nguyen

Just like many relationships and objects in life, businesses aren’t permanent -- data shows that not all of them make it past 18 months. Even a business thriving in the fall of 2019 could have sunk in April 2020. This is likely due to the business not being able to adapt to changing times, but there could have been a host of other factors as well.

Running a business in any industry is a complex, multi-faceted challenge. The reasons why so many businesses don’t last vary greatly depending on the actions of the key decision-makers and the status of their target market. 

Here are some ways to make your business last and keep it sustainable:

1. Know your target audience in as much depth as possible, staying updated.

Many businesses were founded by recognizing a need from a certain group and wanting to fill that need. That’s likely to put you on a path to success, but you’ve got to stay on it. To keep filling those needs, you need to realize that needs change. This can happen due to changes in culture, society, the economy, or being hit by a pandemic. You should also monitor how your audience reacts to your updates, such as a website redesign, product reformulation, or a new marketing campaign. 

Don’t just make assumptions, do your research! Go back to your buyer personas and put yourself in their shoes. Now walk in those shoes through current times. How are they responding to COVID? From there, are your price points, branding, and marketing sustainable? Being able to respond to changes in your market is key to your longevity -- a massive reason why businesses fail frequently has to do with a lack of an audience or failure to satisfy the needs of their audience.

Closely analyze your data, but don’t just rely on numbers and mathematical formulas. You’re looking at human beings here, so carefully read their social media comments and reviews. Be sure to respond to all of their complaints and concerns -- even if they’re angry. 

2.Stand out from the competition.

Even if you’re the main provider of your product and service when you get started, this may not always last. Competitors can spring up anytime, especially if you’re in a saturated market.

Perform a detailed competitive analysis of anything similar to your business. Look for ways you’re similar and how you’re different. If you can’t find a functional difference, make the difference with your branding. Shine with your tone and voice, graphic design, marketing, and values. 

3. Watch your management. Get employee feedback.

In our previous blog post, we cited founder dependence and other factors as potential challenges for small businesses with tips on how to overcome them. Many of these challenges are rooted in improper, unkempt management. Robust management should be part of your business plan, but it can be complex. It’s no wonder why people get degrees in business management and management consulting is a thriving industry.

For example, you might be skimping on monitoring your employees enough and end up waking up to your friend texting you why your business posted something insensitive on social media. You might be going the other direction, micromanaging your employees to the point where they feel too stifled to work efficiently. Get your employees’ feedback and keep an open mind, even for harsh, exasperated criticism. 

4. Monitor your growth.

Growth is undoubtedly a goal for all business owners, but too much of anything isn’t ideal. A common threat to businesses is growing too quickly. If you grow too quickly, your customers, vendors, and employees may not be able to keep up. Quality is sacrificed for quantity. You might end up overworked and eventually overwhelmed, too drained to properly manage your business. And you’re doing all this while there’s not enough money to hire someone new.

Watch how your sales and customers are responding to your growth. Talk to your employees and ask if they feel their workloads are sustainable or not. Don’t let your drive to succeed push you to pulling all-nighters at the expense of your health. Look into software that can help. Talk to your employees to see if anyone is willing to help out with tasks a little outside their job description.

5. Do the “boring” stuff.

Business upkeep requires plenty of administrative tasks, which can be boring for some business owners. Before you have the bandwidth to hire administrative employees, you’ll have to do a lot of the paperwork yourself. Even after hiring out, you’ll probably still have some work to do. No matter how un-glamorous poring over spreadsheets feel, remember that this is an essential behind-the-scenes part that other businesses don’t show you.

Maintaining your business can pose a myriad of internal and external challenges. What are some tips you have for ensuring a business stays afloat? Let us know in the comments below or send us an email!


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About Stingray Advisory Group LLC: Stingray Advisory Group LLC is based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and is a proud member of Local First and the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. We help businesses grow. By creating customized solutions, we empower businesses and entrepreneurs with the tools to further their development.

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