Businesses can face challenges due to a combination of factors, including intense competition, rapid technological advancements, changing consumer preferences, economic fluctuations and regulatory uncertainties. Even internal issues like a lack of planning or adaptability can make things harder.
The fact is, businesses will always need to innovate and change over time. It’s the only way to survive, grow and make a profit. Resting on your laurels is sadly not an option!
Whatever the reasons for your business struggles, bouncing back will require a strategic approach. We’ve put together a few steps you can try to get your business back on track.
Even when market conditions are particularly tough and sales are low, it might be possible to make improvements in other areas. A (very) detailed review of your financial reporting might reveal some surprises, such as ongoing costs that are no longer necessary – it’s more common than you might think.
Feedback from your customers and staff might not be easy to hear, but that too can be a valuable source of information, helping you to make changes which encourage repeat business or improve efficiency.
Consider whether your products or services need tweaking, and research competitors to compare your pricing. Is seasonality or something else external making things worse?
Review your business plan
Is your overall vision and mission still clear? Are your business goals still well-defined, realistic and aligned with market trends? Revisiting (and regularly updating) your business plan allows you to compare it to the decisions you actually made, and understand what you might be able to do differently.
Take time to re-evaluate the market and consider customer needs, competitors, and potential challenges. Pay attention to financial projections to make sure they are not only realistic but can help you return to profitability.
Cut costs and streamline operations
Are there any parts of your business that bring unnecessary expense? If you look carefully there are likely to be areas where you can cut costs without compromising the quality of your products or services. Perhaps you could switch suppliers for example.
It’s also worth going through your operational processes to understand where you can improve efficiency (which can also lead to financial improvements).
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See where you can better manage cash flow
Monitor your cash flow to see if there are ways to manage it more effectively. Could you rearrange how and when you pay suppliers for example? It’s worth trying to negotiate better payment terms where possible and consider offering discounts to customers for early payments.
If your business has debt, check to see if you can renegotiate payment terms or interest rates with lenders. Explore debt restructuring options if necessary.
Boost your marketing efforts
You might look into updating your marketing plan to include methods which help you reach a wider audience, such as taking a multi-channel approach. Reviewing how your brand comes across will also help you make sure it conveys what you want it to, and that it’s consistent across platforms.
Some businesses use social media as a tool for targeted and engaging content – try to go for a platform that most matches the profile of your target audience.
If you rely on a website to generate business, can customers easily find it online? Search engine optimisation (SEO) helps to improve online visibility and uses data analytics to track and understand customer behaviour.
Videos and infographics can be very shareable and capture peoples’ imagination.
You might even consider partnerships and collaborations to expand your reach.
Don’t forget to regularly analyse the performance of your marketing campaigns and adjust your strategy if needed.
Refine your products or services
Do your products and services still hit the spot with new and existing customers? Again, market research is your friend when it comes to understanding customer needs and preferences.
Get feedback from existing customers and analyse industry trends to see if there are any potential gaps or areas for improvement. Use this information to innovate and update your products or services, making sure they align with current market demands.
It might even be a case of changing the way you provide your goods and services. For instance, adding online services alongside in-person ones.
Invest in training
Refining the products and services you offer might mean you or your employees also need to update. Costs can usually be considered an allowable expense if the training helps you improve skills and knowledge you already use in your existing business.
Explore new revenue streams
Identify opportunities to diversify your products and services or expand into new markets. You might even want to consider partnerships or collaborations with other businesses. This is your chance to get creative!
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About The Author
MAAT and ICPA accountant, with a passion for making accountancy and bookkeeping accessible. Other interests include cloud-based software development for web and mobile access, keeping fit, reading, and entrepreneurship.