It’s important to keep your business alive and flourishing, but the truth is that most businesses experience stagnation at one point or another. Business owners need to be able to spot the warning signs of stagnation so that they can take action and get the numbers moving in the right direction again. The first step to solving a problem is admitting you have one, so let's discuss the warning signs that your business has stagnated.
When you first started out, you knew exactly what your purpose and vision were. However as your business evolves, your vision should too. If you no longer have clear goals beyond making money then it's a sign that your business is stagnating.
When you first started your business there was nothing that made you happier than exceeding the expectations of your clients and receiving great feedback. You would go above and beyond to make sure they were happy, but now it seems like it is all about making money. If this is beginning to happen then it is a sign that your business is stagnating and you need to find a sense of purpose again.
When was the last time that you celebrated with your team? Business owners often get so caught up in making sure everything is running smoothly, they forget to take some time out for themselves and their team. If you no longer celebrate the wins, then it is a sign that your business isn't thriving anymore and needs some TLC.
When you first started out, hiring was all about cultural fit rather than skill sets because you were still small enough to know everyone on your team personally. If you're now hiring based on skill sets rather than cultural fit, it is a sign that your business needs to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate how it's running.
When was the last time you had an influx of new customers? If your answer is anything other than "recently" then it may be a sign that your business has stagnated. If you have lost touch with how to market yourself or communicate the value of what you do, now would be a great time to outsource some help.
You used to love going into work every morning and now you dread it. As a business owner, your energy filters down to every single person involved in your organisation, so if you're struggling to find motivation then it's a sign that there is something fundamentally wrong and it may be time to change direction.
Similarly, if your employees no longer care about anything beyond their paycheck then it's a clear indicator that something is amiss. Morale has a direct effect on productivity and quality of output, so if your employees are disengaged it will be apparent in your business.
Last, but certainly not least, if your numbers are stagnant or dropping then it's a clear indicator that something needs to change. Ebbs and flows are normal but if you have experienced a prolonged drop or plateau then it's a sign that action is desperately needed.
Remember - Many businesses experience stagnation at some point and this is not a sign of failure in itself - it just means that it's time for some fresh air. There are many things that business owners can do if they find their company stagnating, so here's an overview of the steps you need to take to get back on track.
If your market is saturated with competitors, it can be hard to get noticed without a unique selling point (USP). Creating something valuable and filling this gap in the market will ensure that your business stays afloat. Get super specific on your niche and figure out why you can solve your customers’ problems better than anyone else out there.
It's possible that your team is simply overwhelmed, and so it may be time to consider outsourcing some tasks in which you currently aren't excelling. This will free up your employees' time to focus on the tasks that really move the needle and there's less commitment and cost involved than with a full-time in-house hire.
If you want to grow your customer base, then it's time to focus on delivering a fantastic customer experience. Your experience now may be fine, but "fine" won't kick start your business out of stagnation. The more attention that you give your customers and the better their interaction with your business is, the higher chance they have of becoming loyal advocates for your brand.
Another way to reignite your business is through creating a community around it. Consider starting up an online or in-person mastermind group where like minded people can come together, learn from each other and support one another's businesses. Building a community around your business will position you as a thought leader in your industry, which is crucial for attracting new customers.
If you can identify an underserved niche and start catering to it, you can be sure that your business will start growing again. It could be that members of this niche are currently with your competitors because there's simply not an option specifically for them, so you can win them over with your focused approach. You'll be able to dominate this niche and build a very loyal customer base by making a certain group feel heard and valued when they were previously ignored.
Your business could be stagnant because you've been too general with your focus. The way out of this trap is to specialise in one thing and do it well. Being a jack of all trades will leave you spread too thin, so instead focus on becoming the go-to provider when it comes to a particular product, service or niche. The more specific you are, the more useful you'll be to your customers and the more your message will resonate.
Kickstarting a stagnant business by yourself often requires a lot of guesswork and trial-and-error. Hiring a consultant/advisor will fast-track your results and save you a significant amount of time and money in the process. It's enormously valuable to bring someone in with fresh eyes who can see opportunities that may have been missed and uncover areas of your business where you might be lacking expertise. The right consultant/advisor will be able to identify the best way to move forward and help you to do exactly that.
While business stagnation certainly isn't desirable, it's not the end of the world either. If you're in a company that has been stagnant for some time, it's important to take action. There are plenty of actions you can take to regain momentum, but the best thing you can do is consider hiring a consultant/advisor who will help identify what areas need improvement within your business and how these issues can be solved quickly and efficiently, without wasting time or resources.