Small business success does not come easy. Even in the best of times managing a small business is a challenge.
Maintaining the Growth Mindset
It takes resilience and determination to keep going. It also means that the desire and decision to become an entrepreneur, solopreneur, or small business owner are not to be treated lightly. You must give it careful thought and planning.
Does this mean that all the odds are against you and you should not pursue your desire? Not at all! Small business ownership or entrepreneurship is a desirable pursuit, but it’s important to go in with well-planned strategies and options.
According to the United States Small Business Association:
- 30% of small businesses fail within two years.
- 50% fail within five years.
- Only 25% of businesses last 15 years or longer.
Any small business owner will tell you that small business is challenging. When circumstances get tough, running a business becomes an even greater challenge.
The events of 2020 have impacted small business success significantly, yet this is only one of many events that have created challenges. Following are some of the most significant events in the 20th and 21st centuries that have had a profound effect on small business and entrepreneurship:
- World War I: July 1914 to November 1918
- The Great Depression: August 1929 to March 1933
- World War II: September 1932 to September 1945
- The 2008 Housing Market Collapse
- The 2020 CoronaVirus Pandemic
During these difficult times, many small businesses folded under pressure. They were not able to keep going. At the same time, many businesses have survived these incredibly challenging circumstances. Some of them have even thrived.
The point is that your business can make it through hard times. You’ll need to get creative, take decisive action, and make tough decisions. But you can do it!
Take Charge of Your Mindset
If your business is struggling, it’s essential to become more aware and take charge of your mindset. When things get tough, it’s very easy to enter a downward mental spiral.
As you work to stabilize and turn around your business, it’s important to maintain a positive mindset, which embraces a growth mindset. A positive mindset means that you are resolved to not give up.
Almost every great business leader has endured struggles similar to yours. They are successful because they persevered and were resilient. If you want your business to succeed, you need mental toughness.
How do you replace a negative mindset with a positive, growth-oriented mindset? Follow the steps below:
Pay attention. You need to be able to identify unhelpful mental patterns as they occur.
Question. As negative thoughts arise, question them. Is what you’re thinking really true? Remember that your mind believes whatever you tell it – consciously or unconsciously so this is an important step.
Silence. Avoid allowing the same thoughts to keep stealing your mental energy.
Replace. As you shut down your inner critic, fill the silence with positive, helpful dialogue.
As you push through problems and challenges, remember your WHY. Why did you decide to go into business in the first place? Seek to tap into the emotions and desires that propelled you to create your business.
Clarify the Problem
Before you can identify a solution, first clarify the problem. Take some time to think about how you got to where you currently are. What happened that you didn’t anticipate? Some common challenges businesses face are:
- Market changes
- Failure to understand the target customer or market
- Poor pricing strategy
- Insufficient funds
- Too much growth
If you want your business to thrive during challenging times, you must be able to put your finger on the primary challenges. Take time to diagnose what caused the challenges. Grab a pen and paper or use an electronic device and make a list of the biggest issues that are instantly noticeable. Write them down as headings. Then under those headings, explore and write down the smaller challenges. You may need to go down two or three layers.
You see, even though outside events may have triggered the obvious negative results, smaller issues were brewing for a time, and were not observed or were ignored. The events only brought them to the foreground.
The next step is to create a plan on how to correct any weaknesses and strengthen areas that are ‘wobbly’.
Focus on Your Customers
Your Customers are at the heart of your business. They are the lifeblood of your business because if you don’t have customers, you don’t have a business. When deciding what actions to take to strengthen your business, always keep your customers front and center.
Before making changes, consider how they will affect the customer experience. If customer experience is one of your key competitive advantages, be especially careful about changes. If you do make changes that will directly affect the customer, communicate with your customers right away. Explain why you have to make the changes and the outcomes you expect.
Don’t stop there. Ask your customers for feedback regarding the changes you’ve made. Remember that many people do not readily accept or gravitate to change. Therefore, you may need to make sure you get buy-in and then explain that the benefits may take a little time to become apparent.
By communicating consistently and regularly, your customers will be the best source of providing results. Make sure to acknowledge them and if you implement any of their recommendations, let your customers know. They will feel valued and invested in your business as the emotional connection increases, and they remain loyal customers.
During times of global crisis, it’s especially important to keep the focus on customers. People will remember the actions you take. If you seek to serve your customers, even at the expense of profit, you’ll build goodwill. In turn, this goodwill could quite possibly lead to referrals and loyalty.
It’s as Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did; but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced during the pandemic? What strategies have you implemented to ensure your small business success during these challenging times?
In my next post, I will share practical steps you can take to stop and leaks in your small business and prepare yourself to meet any further challenges.