I caught up with a new client recently who was experiencing a pretty major financial downturn in her business. In fact her revenue had dropped by almost fifty percent in the past two years. This decline had been gradual but the end result was that her business was now in big trouble.
We sat and chatted about the things she had been doing over the past couple of years to try and get a grip on what was going wrong. Sure, we could blame some of the impact on the economic conditions, but nowhere near a drop of fifty percent. This lady had built her business up to a very successful level over about five years and then she started to expand, setting up some satellite offices and even a franchise or two.
This expansion started about two years ago – you guessed it, the same time that her main office started to go downhill. Of course it is easy to see that her focus was on the other new and exciting business opportunities, not on her core business and that is what caused the problem. But how did this lack of focus actually translate into day to day activity in her primary business? Well I will get to that.
Once we had figured out the lay of the land and where she was right now, it became clear that we had to put some serious effort and energy into the main business and we had to do it fast. So I started to rattle off the list of things that I would do to get the cash register smoking such as increasing communication with existing clients, develop more targeted and inspirational promotional material, follow up sales religiously, instigate a refer a friend campaign, get out in the community and tell the network what is happening in the business, do some media releases etc etc.
As I worked through this list my client was shaking her head somewhat forlornly and I asked her why? She said she used to do all of the things I am suggesting when she was building up her business, but she stopped doing them a while back, actually about two years back, because she got too busy focusing on her expansion.
Sadly this is a common story that I am hearing on a regular basis. Businesses often struggle financially not because of what they are doing but because of what they are not doing.
Now as we stop doing things the affect is not that clear immediately. The impact is often gradual and it can sneak up on you, just as it did with my client. I know that it is hard to keep going, to keep putting energy into your business day in and day out, but it easier to do a little every day as opposed to having to do a huge amount to save the business if it gets into grief.
My question to you is “what have you stopped doing in your business and what affect is it having?”