Nothing can be more frustrating for a business owner than to put immense time, energy and effort into building a business, only to realize that the effort is not paying off. Not only are the results desired not occurring, but the results garnered are heading the business in an undesirable direction, in spite of what was believed to be the right course of action. In working with small businesses through the years, I have noticed missteps that lead them down a misguided path, even though the intentions were good in what was desired and anticipated.
1. Footprint versus Foothold: In an effort to expand your customer base, are you casting your net wider geographically in hopes it will reap an increased return. On the surface, this could make sense, but too often there is still immense opportunities that have not been fully leveraged to capture a stronger foothold within a market the business already has a presence.
2. Sales versus Profits: What good can it possibly do for your business to have increased sales from offerings with the lowest profit margin? Don't fool yourself into believing that promoting a lower margin, lower cost item to customers will get them to later purchase the higher margin, higher priced offerings. Chances are the offerings are attractive to different market segments entirely.
3. Patronage versus Preference: If your focus is only to get customers to make an initial purchase without leveraging how they can become a loyal customer in preferring you over competitors, you are caught in a transactional mindset. Explore how you can build preference even before the first purchase is made through added value, customer service, unique advantages and distinctive solutions.
4. Competing versus Compelling: When you focus too much on competing with other companies for customers, you are actually placing more emphasis on your competitors than you are on what makes your business the best choice. Focus instead on having a compelling story, solution or alternative that speaks to your customers on an emotional and rational level. The level of respect this demonstrates immediately puts you a notch above the rest.
5. Employing versus Engaging: You can hire people all day long, and if they are not engaged in what makes your business a valuable place to work and do business with, your customers will see through this in a heartbeat. An engaged, impassioned employee is also better able to engage and impress customers in both tangible and intangible ways.
When you understand where the focus of your business and decisions related to its success should be and need to be, it makes the entire process easier and more empowering for everyone involved. Take a step back to reflect on whether you are focused on the right side of the equation when it comes to where you do business, what is most profitable, how you can be preferred, what is most compelling and who is truly engaged in its success. A simply shift in focus can mean a world of difference to your bottom line now and long into the future.
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.