Many businesses, once they become established, either follow the up and down trends of the market or are pulled in the direction their dominant customers want to go!

So why don’t you grab the reins and take your business in the direction where you want to go!

If you follow the business, economic and political news, you could become downbeat with all the negative data and information that is being communicated, but don’t forget bad news grabs attention and therefore sells.

Newspapers, print and online media channels want your attention as this attracts you to their advertisers.

On top of this we know of fake news which is shared on social media on a large scale making further noise.

All this information affects your behaviour and therefore short-term business planning in most cases will just be “stick to what we’re doing” and your business then just ends up following the general market trends.

Last week it was reported by the press that retail sales in December fell by 1.9%.... But compared to what?

The report compared December versus November which was boosted by a bumper Black Friday.

UK retailers grabbed Christmas trade early bringing sales forward from December.

If the press had compared December 2016 retail sales with December 2015 sales were actually up 4.3% year on year!

If you analyse the data available through the Office of National Statistics (ONS) you will find that retail sales trends have generally been increasing since 2006, but prices continue to be eroded.

Retail on the high street is not dead, however it will continue to be challenging due to the changing habits of consumers.

Online sales were up a startling 21.3% year on year.

So my question is, if you are in retail, do you have an online strategy, as this is where the real growth potential is, or it is an excellent way to attract and increase footfall.

Going back to the title of this article, so are you just allowing your business to be market led?

If so you will be at the mercy of the market trends, but be particularly vulnerable when it falls.

The other challenge you will likely have is relying on is the local demographics, its changes or if you are B2B your bigger customers, i.e. having your eggs in one basket.

If their numbers or market is in decline, you will be challenged on price and will suffer lower volumes of products and services.

Hence you could follow in their demise. Note; the average life cycle of a business is now less than 13 years!

So why not take up the reins of your business and drive it in the direction you want to go?

  • Set a clear plan of what you want your business to do for you! Not just “I want to grow the business to sell it one day” but put a number on it, set a time scale and understand what adds value.
  • Do your market research , investigate demographic trends or the industry sectors your current customers operate in. What’s the future looking like for these markets? What’s the market drivers in those sectors? Social, Technological, Economical or Politically. What sectors are doing well and have strong future opportunities? Determine who the prospects and key companies are in these markets? Set a plan to engage with these opportunities and therefore relying less on business with customers in the declining markets.
  • Review your current product and service mix , by volumes, by gross margin, by customer, by sector. What’s your sales trends internally, versus what’s the trends externally? Do all your customer know what you sell? A Good tip - Harvest your existing client base and focus on selling more of the things that make you more money (a higher margin).
  • What’s your competition doing? Where are they strong? Where are they weak? What can you learn from them? They may have a great website, or always in the press supporting social enterprises. Ultimately you want to understand clearly the threats in the competitive market place but also the key opportunities for your business.
  • What’s your current resources and capabilities? Do you have the right structure, systems, processes and people to deliver your plans? How well is your business and brand known? What’s your reputation? Where do you need to improve? Where are you vulnerable?
  • Share your plans with your employees , work together to agree the necessary short and medium term actions. Decide who takes responsibility for what, support each other and agree follow up timescales.
    Then it is just a matter of focusing on and supporting your team.
    As it is only through your people and team that you can deliver your strategy and aspirations.
    So take the reins and lead your people and company in the direction you want to go.
    It will be tough at times but keep your focus on the overall objective and keep the momentum going.

If you are looking to review and then grow your business, Business Doctors Cumbria offers a free business health check to help you to establish a clear vision and understand the steps to fulfil your aspirations.

Book a free business health check

Contact Peter Fleming 0845 163 1490 m - 07966 686112


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