It’s been an extraordinarily frustrating few weeks as I’ve engaged with at least 3 different business owners who are closing their doors. And over the past 8 weeks it’s at least 4 business owners who are calling it quits. So the reality is that more will fail than succeed; however, it doesn’t have to be this way.
The common thread with all these decisions is a business owner going it alone. Sure, they also are saying things like ‘we’ll just have to survive until the economy recovers’; or ‘we’re just going to have to be as lean as possible until the market recovers’. One of the best was, ‘we’re just hoping things will turn around soon’. They all have in common a relative degree of past success and had all been around for 15 years+. They all have run successful businesses with dozens of employees. And they all knew they should’ve been doing something different…but did not. It’s disturbing and frustrating, mainly because these businesses could’ve survived…and perhaps even thrived.
The bottom line is that the market is the market, and the economy is the economy. So every business owner is faced with the question of how to grow – it’s either through acquisition or organic growth. Most have not been in a capital or asset position to acquire; therefore it comes down to organic growth. Admittedly the markets for all these businesses had shrunk. There aren’t many who haven’t faced similar circumstances over the past several years. But the success in organic growth is all about taking a bigger piece of the market share pie that does exist. This requires a great deal of effort on the strategic and the tactical side of marketing…to clearly articulate what value you bring to the prospect and why you’re the best for solving their problem. And it’s about understanding that target market so keenly that the channels you utilize to communicate your message are impactful. These are challenging times; even if they weren’t it’s always prudent to go it with a partner, coach, consultant. Seek help!
My prayer is that more business owners will surround themselves with the right resources and with a renewed focus on not just surviving, but stealing a larger piece of the market pie. And that business owners will look long and hard in the mirror to discern whether the right answer for themselves, their families and their employees is to close the doors; and answer the questions about why they started or acquired the business in the first place. What’s changed? Hopefully the same motivations and goals exist, and that real success can be had by looking at the world differently and surrounding themselves with talented resources who care about the owners’ goals and objectives. Just don’t go it alone!