When you rethink your business for growth, you need to dive deep into how you are going to expand into bigger, better and different ways of doing things… without getting stuck in the thinking and planning and rethinking stage! No growth happens there.
If there’s one thing entrepreneurs can be relied upon to do, it’s overthinking. We excel at it. Once we have a business idea, the cogs start turning, and there’s no stopping them.
- Think things through
- Plan everything out
- Have another idea
- Wander off on a tangent
- Come back to the original plan
- Plan some more
- Finally, get started
- Then obsess over every tiny detail of our business.
You may be:
- Obsessed with ‘the numbers’
- Fixated on ‘the message’
- Or utterly dedicated to ‘the brand’.
In one way or another, once you had your very own business baby, you thought about it… A lot! You’re still thinking about it.
All. The. Time.
So the notion of rethinking your business is going to elicit one of two reactions in you:
- An unadulterated joy that you are being encouraged to indulge in your favourite guilty pleasure;
- Or a cold, sinking feeling of dread starting in the pit of your stomach and leaving you with the nagging sensation you’re going to pass out.
But there’s a HUGE difference between over-thinking and rethinking.
Over-thinking sees you running in circles, mulling over the same things repeatedly, making little progress, and generally driving yourself a little crazy.
Rethinking is all about finding new thoughts, new ways, new directions.
Not the same old over and over again, but rethinking your business to make it bigger and more profitable, better – both for you and your clients – and different. To the point that it rises above your competition and becomes a dominant force for innovation in your niche.
It should. The most successful businesses do not follow the norms. They do not bend to conventional wisdom. They break the mould.
The most successful entrepreneurs aren’t content to blend in and follow the herd.
Whatever stage you’re at in your business now’s the time to take a good look at what you’re doing and ask yourself, “Am I blending in, or am I scorching my own path?”
Rethink Your Business For Growth
The name of the game for every business is growth.
We all want to become as successful as we can possibly be. To achieve that big, huge dream, the one that might seem completely impossible, yet you really desperately want to achieve it.
Growth is magical.
But it doesn’t happen spontaneously. It takes thought, planning, and careful execution.
It also frequently requires a considerable amount of out-of-the-box thinking, especially when your business model involves selling time-for-money by offering a service.
So the first thing to rethink is exactly how you make money and the elements of your business that you most want to grow.
The odds are, two things at the top of that list are profits and clients.
You want more money, and in order to gain more money, you need more clients.
But this is rather in-the-box thinking. And while there’s nothing wrong with it, you might want to try something a little different…
Rethink Your Business Money Model
This can be a difficult one to wrap your head around, but give it a moment to settle in your mind. Is the way you charge for your services really the best way of doing it? Or is it simply the way it’s done?
Here’s an example – Blockbuster used to be the biggest movie-rental business in the world. They had more than 9000 stores worldwide in 2004 and seemed to be unstoppable. People went in, picked a movie, paid a one-off fee, watched and returned it.
Everyone loved it.
Then Netflix happened and totally transformed the way we perceived movie rentals.
No more one-off fees, no limits on how much we could watch, just a low monthly price and whatever you want delivered directly to you. No muss, no fuss, no waiting. So simple.
And the world of entertainment hasn’t been the same since.
Rethink Your Business Pricing
In a similar vein, you may also want to rethink your pricing structure. If you’re looking to increase your revenue and profits, raising your prices is a no-brainer. But while you’re at it, really think about it.
Don’t just bump your prices up, consider how you set your prices, and the perceptions people have of your brand as a result of your pricing.
Are you charging by the hour?
By the project?
Do you have fixed pricing for packages available?
Are your clients paying for things they don’t actually need, use, or want, simply because it’s standard to offer them?
Are you missing out on revenue by not offering a complementary or obvious extra option that everyone needs, but nobody else in your niche offers?
Rethink Your Niche
One of the biggest elements of your business you need to rethink for growth can be your niche.
- Is it specific enough to ensure powerful marketing?
- Is it broad enough to ensure you’re maximising profits and reaching your potential?
When you’ve been operating in a specific niche for a while it can be really tough to imagine breaking out of it, either by expanding to include something else, or abandoning it completely because it’s no longer working for you.
Here’s another example of the change that came about as the result of the digital revolution: paper.
Businesses selling paper as a commodity ran into real trouble when digital workplaces rose to the fore, and paperless offices became a huge trend. Add to this growing environmental concerns and global obsession with reducing waste and you can see that a previously lucrative niche had become obsolete.
Once the company, Mohawk Fine Papers, were advised to shut down in the face of customers abandoning paper in favour of digital alternatives. Rather than follow this advice, Mohawk rethought their niche and launched a new digital enterprise in personalised stationery and coffee table books.
They were still trading in the paper game but expanded their niche to include a new ‘superfine’ range, used by customers to design their own stuff. The rethink boosted their profits by 17% in 2013, and they have gone from strength to strength ever since.
Rethink Your Business For Improvement
If overthinking is the hallmark of the entrepreneur, perfectionism is the trademark.
We all want our businesses to not only thrive but be the best they can possibly be.
It’s super-easy to fall into the trap of believing that ‘doing better’ requires ‘working harder’. But sometimes the best way to improve your business is to work smarter, not harder.
One way to do this is to rethink some of the core elements of your business. By reframing things we take for granted, it’s often possible to find a much better way of doing things.
A way that greatly impacts the quality of your business and the services it provides, without requiring you to work yourself to death to achieve it.
In fact, you can often think of new approaches that make everything a lot more efficient at the same time.
Rethink Your Marketing
Marketing is arguably the most exhausting aspect of any business. It never stops, it never slows down. It’s the one thing you absolutely, categorically, have to do at all times, or everything grinds to a halt.
So, how are you marketing your business?
Are you using the best tactics for your business, niche, and audience, or are you simply doing what everyone else does?
Before the internet there were set ways of marketing your business, from direct advertising and ads on TV and in print, to cold calling and the Yellow Pages.
Then digital marketing happened and suddenly there were a million new ways to market your business:
- Email Marketing
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Pay Per Click Advertising
The list goes on, but you get the point.
Running an online business has made entrepreneurship easier than ever before. But we have very quickly settled into routine methods that are used by pretty much everyone online.
We threw out the rules created by pre-internet marketing, and came up with new ones for the digital age.
Have a good hard look at your marketing strategies.
What’s working? Really working? Not just, ‘working better than everything else I’m trying’, but genuinely getting amazing results?
What’s not working?
You’d be surprised how many businesses continue with marketing strategies that are going nowhere, either because they don’t think there’s an alternative. They feel they have to do them, even if they’re not working. Because that’s what is expected.
Do what works well, leave what doesn’t – even if everyone else is doing it!
Rethink What Your Clients Think And Need
While there are a lot of benefits to knowing your niche there can be downsides to it also. As we’ve seen, working within a set industry can inadvertently box us in, limiting our approach to business in ways we never really consider.
Another way this can happen is in your view of your ideal clients. Specifically, what you believe they think and need, compared to what they actually think and need.
Here are a few examples:
- Believing your ideal client is the same as that of every other business in your niche. You may even have based your ideal client profile and strategy for attracting and serving them on your competition.
- You believe your ideal client is you, and therefore they think and want the same things you think and want.
- Thinking you know what clients think about and want from your competition, and assume they need the same things from you, but you never actually ask them to confirm this is the case.
- You were very savvy at the start and did a lot of market research to discover as much about your ideal clients as possible, including surveying them to discover their genuine thoughts, wants and needs. BUT you haven’t done any further research since, and you’re still operating under the assumption that your original research holds true.
- Knowing what you want to sell and have building your ideal client profile around that, rather than identifying your ideal clients and shaping your offerings to perfectly serve their needs.
Here’s the problem with making assumptions about your clients: you’re not psychic.
Clients are a lot more complicated than most people realise. We tend to see them in terms of what we can do for them, and what they want from us, but they are all unique, complex human beings with a whole lot more going on in their heads!
When you make assumptions about their thoughts and needs, based on your own beliefs, on your competition, on previous experience, or on what you want them to want, you’re going to run into trouble.
Check in with your ideal clients regularly. Run surveys, collect data from market research, and actually spend the time talking with real people in discussion groups, on social media, and in masterminds.
Be flexible, and willing to reframe your offerings to better suit their needs, even if it makes things a little difficult for you.
For example, you may have your clients paying up front, to avoid dealing with the inherent problems that come with long-term payment plans. At the same time, you’re struggling to convert clients. You might assume this is because your prices are too high, and your prospective clients aren’t willing to pay what you’re asking.
Your solution (based on that assumption) would be to lower your prices. The reality, however, might well be that your leads are more than happy to pay what you’re asking, but it isn’t practically possible for them to do it upfront. Avoid lowering your prices based on a false assumption.
Once you’re aware of what your clients genuinely think, the solution is clear.
Rethink Your Business For Innovation
Every niche has its own inviolable truths. Certain things that are simply ‘known’. They’re so widely accepted that it is rare for people to question them. When they do, it’s generally not done in a proactive manner.
If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.
In other words, when whole industries accept the status quo as truth and universally approach an aspect of business in the same way, the quality of the service they provide will always be within a certain margin.
Yes, some will do it better than others, but there is a limit to what clients can expect from any business in your niche, because there are limits imposed by ‘what everyone knows to be true’.
Chuck out the rule book and start doing things differently.
When you assume those universal truths aren’t always true, suddenly you have a chance to do things considerably better than your competition, even if only because you do them differently.
If there’s one word that’s over-used in business it’s ‘innovation’. The reason for this is really simple – we all want to be great innovators, but the truth is that most businesses stay within the safe comfort zone of their niche. They never truly innovate. Instead, they make little changes that create the illusion of innovation, and believe they’ve achieved their goal. They never dig any deeper, because they don’t believe there’s a need to.
True innovation is a little more complicated, but only a little, and it’s totally achievable.
Understand Various Forms Of Innovation
One of the biggest mindset issues holding companies back from genuine innovation is falling into the trap of believing that, in order to be innovative, you need to create new products or services. Things nobody has seen before.
It’s easy to forget there are many forms of innovation.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to be innovative, you just need to roll it in a different direction.
Here are a few ways to do that:
- Find new and better ways to connect with your clients, determine exactly what they need, and how they want to receive it, then give it to them.
- Offer a standard of client care that is unprecedented in your niche, ensuring that while your products or services may not be innovative, the experience your customers have of them is totally new.
- Do the same thing in a new way, by developing an innovative method, rather than creating an entirely new offering.
- Identify a problem in your industry or niche that is accepted as ‘unavoidable’, and fix it! This could be as big as totally changing the method by which you deliver your service, or as simple as having a team member dedicated to personally checking in with your clients on a regular basis.
- Innovate your brand message and core values – stand for something important that others in your niche shy away from, view as a conflict, or simply don’t care about. For example, if you are working in an industry known to have a negative impact on the environment, make care of the environment the core of your brand, and do everything possible to mitigate those negative consequences.
Create A Culture Of Innovation
The is perhaps the most difficult thing on this list to achieve, especially if you have limited resources and need everyone in your company working at full-speed just to keep up with your workload. Creating a culture of innovation in your business – an environment that is open to new ideas, new methods, and increasingly better ways of doing things – is absolutely vital.
It’s easy to get set in our ways. There are workflows to follow, specific systems in place, and a set way of doing every element of your business.
That’s necessary in order to ensure efficiency, but it can easily lead to stagnation if those methods are taken for granted, never updated or questioned, and any suggestion of change is met with resistance.
Encourage your employees (and yourself!) to constantly question: is this the best way to do it, or is it simply the way it’s always been done?
We often stick to the status quo because it’s easier than dealing with the change. Change is scary.
It might turn out the old way was better, it could prove to be more expensive or time-consuming and, even if it isn’t, implementing the change is going to take time, and may cause a disruption.
True innovation is an ongoing process. It’s not something that you do once and never think about again. The world is constantly moving. The digital world is moving faster than anything ever has before, especially in terms of business.
So if you truly want to reap the rewards of being an innovative company, you need to be open to change on a regular basis, and the possibility that trying new things might not always work.
Ready To Rethink Your Business?
If you’re ready to take another look at how things work in your own business, but you’re still not sure exactly where to start or how to do it, book a time to talk to us, our advisory team can help point you in the right direction.