June 30, 2010 -- During these tough economic times, many small businesses are experiencing difficulty hanging on. With little hope of recovery on the horizon, some are wondering about their staying power. Should they continue to stay the course or it is time to throw in the towel? Perhaps neither is the right answer -- maybe it's time to reinvent your business.
How do you know which is the right course of action? Start by analyzing where you are today.
Compare and Contrast
You can decide whether staying the course is the right action by comparing your business with other similar businesses in your industry and geographic location. Are they holding their own or perhaps even starting to grow again? If other similar types of business are starting to see some rebound and you are still barely keeping your head above water, then that tells you it is time to make changes.
Don't Throw Good Money After Bad
You can't save yourself into prosperity, but if you are constantly throwing money into your business and sinking further and further into the hole, then you need to take a step back and analyze what's happening. There comes a time when sinking more money into the business isn't going to fix the problems. That's the point when you may need to recognize; it's time to call it a day or make dramatic changes.
Some businesses that are struggling in today's environment simply need to step back and look at the way they are doing business with a fresh set of eyes so they can discover ways to do things differently. Sometimes shaking things up a bit -- in a large or small way -- can ramp up revenue opportunities. Has the market changed? Has your business changed accordingly? Don't dig your heels in the ground. If you keep doing the same thing over and over again, and you keep getting the same dismal results, then it's time to do something differently.
How do you go about reinventing your business? There 's no set formula, because reinvention is a process. Therefore, there can't be a an established criteria. The reinvention process is intended to make full utilization of your resources for greater productivity and profitability. So here are some ideas to help you move the ball forward.
Give Yourself Permission and Time
You can't think about reinvention in the midst of the day-to-day turmoil of running your business. Schedule time to review and analyze what's working and what's not.
Start with the Obvious
Review your current operations. Are there ways in which you could operate more efficiently. For example, have you thought about collaborating with another company to share office or warehouse space? How about joining together to create a purchasing pool to enhance your economies of scale? Even joint advertising campaigns or marketing efforts may increase your reach and bottom line.
No Sacred Cows
Challenge all assumptions about your business. Look at everything you are doing and drill down. Why are you doing what you are doing? Should you be doing it that way? Is there a better way?
Review Your Customer Interface
Are you making it easy for your customers to do business with you? For example, I know a doctor who opened a medi-spa in his office. The revenue from the spa isn't meeting his exceptions. The problem with the spa is its customer interface. It is only open when the medical office is open. Spa clients want hours available on the weekends and evenings. A simple change could increase his revenue significantly.
Create New Revenue Streams
Look at the way you make money now Are there other revenue streams you could create that might be more appealing to your customer base. For example, if you currently sell a certain type of equipment, could you offer a rental or lease program.
Sometimes people are willing to spend less more often than make a one-time large commitment. Think about how gyms price their memberships. They give you the choice of paying for a year or more, but they also allow you to pay as you go.
Finally, don't be afraid to try something seemingly unorthodox. Collaborate with a competitor. Target a new industry. Go virtual. Reinventing your business may be just the boost you need to rebound from the recession.
This article is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.