By Gina Blitstein

"The only thing constant in life is change." - François de la Rochefoucauld

Life – and with it society, technology, trends, priorities – constantly changes. Because of that continuously fluid state of affairs, your business must be ready, willing and able to change along with the times to remain viable in the marketplace. We’re not talking about a complete change of identity necessarily; in most cases, small yet significant tweaks to what you’re already doing will keep your business current with customer needs and tastes.

Adjusting certain aspects of your operation to meet the expectations of your customer base is in no way a negative reflection on your business’ past performance. If it wasn’t meeting the public’s needs, it would not have remained successful. The key to longevity is to continue meeting the needs of your current customers while attracting new ones. Updating or re-imagining things is simply a smart way to keep your business robust and moving forward.

Changing for the better: Imagine what could be

Consider these areas to make impactful changes to your business:

Strengths and weaknesses. Assess what your business does best and where it may fall short. You may be better off specializing in things at which you excel than struggling to provide goods or services that are too costly, labor-intensive or inconvenient for your resources. It’s often better to be outstanding in a niche market than mediocre in a larger one.

Suppose you operate a beauty salon and at the outset, you offered skin care, manicures and massages as well as hair services. Over time, however, you discovered that you didn’t have enough demand to keep an esthetician, manicurist and masseuse on staff – but that you always needed another hair stylist. This revelation could lead you to streamline your offering to hair services only, which then can become your specialty.

Customers. Listening to customers can lead to increasing your business’ appeal. If you notice you’re receiving numerous inquiries about certain types of products or services, it may be a good idea to take heed and look into providing them. Obviously, there’s interest and that’s the first step to making sales. Giving the public what they want may be the key to remaining current.

Imagine you’re a jewelry designer who creates necklaces and bracelets that are bold in scale. Your current customers love them, yet lately you’re receiving feedback that customers would love to see your signature take on pieces on a more petite scale. It may be worth your while to see if some design alterations could open a new market for your jewelry.

Locale. Has your brick and mortar location’s vibe changed since you set up shop? If the change has been significant in areas like the socioeconomic makeup of your neighborhood, traffic flow or the influx or exodus of other businesses, you should take action. Moving is an option if your current location has become undesirable. If the changes simply mix up your demographic, adjust your offerings to better serve customers.

For example, you could offer higher-end products and services if your neighborhood is undergoing an urban renewal. If there’s more foot traffic due to the building of a village square, work on your sidewalk appeal and convenience. If similar businesses have moved out, can you pick up their customers? If businesses with similar offerings move in, consider how you can make your brand stand out and remain exciting and competitive.

Perception. The way you contact customers, your company logo, the manner in which you market – even your decor – determine the way your business is perceived. Companies who are current count mobile-friendly websites and technology-based services among the ways they serve customers. When was the last time you really looked at your own logo? Company communications, in all their forms, mold your customers’ perception of you. If yours is stale, it’s time to freshen it up.

Consumers are used to change; they even come to expect it. If their perception of your company is the same for too long, they will cease to even notice it. A website redesign, logo refresh, a presence on social media, text reminders of appointments… these types of enhancements can update your business’ appeal in and of themselves.

Once you’ve identified what you need to do to infuse a sense of freshness into your business, act on it cautiously. There’s no need for drastic change or haste. Take the time to implement your changes gracefully so as not to scare off or alienate your existing customers. Accentuate the positives of the change in your marketing, e.g., you’re not dropping services; rather you’re embracing a deeper dedication to one in particular. Eventually, your business’ new persona will be fully expressed and will better serve your market and your bottom line.

Change is inevitable. Rather than allow the turning tides to drown your success, take them on as inspiration to refine your business for the times. What worked in the past for you may no longer be ideal; if it’s not, discover new ways to please and attract customers.

 


Gina Blitstein combines her insight as a fellow small business owner with her strong communication skills, exploring topics that enhance your business efforts. That first-hand knowledge, matched with an insatiable curiosity to know more about just about anything, makes her a well-rounded writer with a sincere desire to engage and inform.

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.