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 Stay relevant to stay in business

 

 The way you run your business is often based on what you believe made it a success in the first place. Your plan of action is based on the credence that what worked in the past will work in the future. As long as this philosophy works its fine, but to what extent does is actually work?

When I visit entrepreneurs and start asking questions about their business model, how long they have been in business and why they think their business is still relevant, I come to realise that, in many cases, the thinking has stopped long ago. Very little innovation, research and re-modelling is taking place and there is a heavy reliance on ‘what worked yesterday will work tomorrow’.

Building on what made it work is a sound principle, but you need to adapt to what tomorrow may bring. Just think of the technological rat-race taking place at the moment, even faxes are on their way out. You need to continually ‘relevancy test’ what you are doing. The fact that your dad had success applying a business concept is no guarantee that the concept will still have success going forward.

With the explosion of information available and rapid growth of technology, you need to keep abreast of what is happening in your industry and the world. If not, you are going backwards and before you know it you may be out of business and not even know why.

Needless to say, the competition is getting tougher in virtually every industry. The other players in the market are looking for ways to surpass their competition, and you. This may be just the nudge you need that forces you to take time out and question your business model. Sometimes you only need to tweak it slightly to have a major impact.

If you are not sure where to start, look at the different angles of your business. Look at what others are doing in the industry; what are the latest trends in the market and where are these moving towards?

Ask your clients. We always assume they are satisfied, until you put them on the spot and get real feedback from them. There are so many ways of getting feedback, but the easiest is just to ask them. Have a one-on-one discussion with them, you may not necessarily like their answers, but it will be worth it.

Other ways to get feedback would through a survey or questionnaire or ask a research institute to assist. You could even invite comments on your website. The results can really be an eye-opener and will give you some ideas about how you can do things differently (and better).

Article written by Gerrie van Biljon – Executive Director Business Partners Limited.

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