More often than not, businesses find themselves in an interesting conundrum. Once started off well and managed to carve a niche in the market no longer entails that level of persuasiveness. In other words, the business just loses shine, it just stops growing. The topline reaches a point of stagnation and ever-mounting expenses continue to apply pressure to the bottom-line. Of course, it is pertinent to note that this argument holds equally for both, the entire organization or, a particular business line. Either way, it is a challenge-a significant one, at that! After all, one does need to pull out the big guns to save the business.
The appropriate way to tackle this (in my opinion) is to relook and obtain a fresh perspective. This requires deep introspection, rethinking, regrouping, most importantly asking questions and taking right decisions to keep the business afloat, whilst, of course, keeping the employees’ interests in mind.
By “asking questions”, I meant examining if the business line itself is correct, whether course correction is required, the likely factors leading to this situation, et all. Clearly, there are multiple questions one ought to ask, but picking the right ones are surely going to help one get back on course.
Meanwhile, the leadership ought to create a strategic plan, both for the short and long terms. And establish a continuous monitoring process to keep one honest and committed to achieving what was promised. Let’s take a closer look at this-the intent, of course, isn’t to get prescriptive but certainly list some important yet thought provoking question that require to be asked. But, fair warning, though, the answers are not going to be straight forward and, at times, may be quite demanding. But, if honestly worked upon, could lead to astonishing results and make one feel content and proud! The bottom-line is to get to the root cause as deep as possible. A superficial approach won’t serve the purpose.
Are you in the right business? Ask this if the level of acceptance in the market is below par. The challenge may lie in the way the offering has been positioned or in the way customers perceive the organization.
Why you think ‘you-are’ or ‘you-are-not’ at the right place? This is an offshoot of the previous question and is based on the facts gathered from there. Limited resources, or the lack of right resources, a shortage of expertise or a lack of market understanding in the changing business scenarios could be the reason of depleting share in the market.
What is the target addressable market size? The market is, at best, unpredictable and subject to ever-changing conditions. These may include changing customer preferences, their willingness to pay for a product or service, the emergence of a truly disruptive technology or even regulatory conditions.
Why has the business not been able to grow? If you think you are in right business and the market is also relatively established, then absence of growth could be owing to internal factors. This could include lack of resources, or the right resources, or the right focus, or even the required expertise.
What are you going to stop, continue and start doing? For starters, stop making the errors identified; continue leveraging the factors that have worked well and start focusing on the priorities set for the business.
Create a strategic plan and a short-term/mid-term tactical plan. It is important to define and/or re-define the strategic plan for the business to bring it back on track. This includes refining objectives and outlining SMART goals to address the slump. Defining methods to expand into different territories; change the approach to acquire business; identify opportunities for partnerships; correct product positioning, re-examine the target customer segments. Equally important is to correctly price the products and services, refine the business model and creating value proposition for different customers differently. One could also attempt to find opportunities of building more synergies for costs reduction, increasing collaboration and avoiding repetition of effort by different teams by restructuring etc.
All in all, while the journey may not be an easy one, it is necessary. After all, to stay competitive, organizations have no choice but to deep-dive into the challenge at hand and have a good, effective, long and honest look. Only then will clarity will be obtained, a precursor to success, isn’t it?
Permit me to end with a quote from William Durant, co-founder General Motors,
“Forget past mistakes. Forget failures. Forget everything except what you’re going to do now and do it.”