Most companies grow quite rapidly in the first few decades of their existence. They win new customers, gain new leads and ultimately dominate their respective industries.
Unfortunately, growth has an annoying habit of ending. It doesn't seem to matter how advanced the company is or how powerful its technology is – there is a limit to what any market can support.
Take Google for example. The search giant is at the top of the search market and controls almost nine out of ten queries people enter on the Internet. However, the company is struggling to grow its advertising revenue. The rest of the economy is still catching up and only has enough resources to use it.
Amazon is another company that did its best not to hit the wall. The e-commerce giant saturated the online bookselling market pretty early in its history and had to expand into all sorts of other areas to continue its expansion.
The data on business stalled growth is pretty unfriendly. It seems that most companies have a growth phase and then it ends for good. Companies like Amazon are very many outliers. Data suggests there is only a 10 percent chance a brand will resume once it hits the wall.
Many companies don't want to go through this process. You can be among them. So what can you do to reinvent your brand before going out of business? Take a look at these ideas.
Deconstruct your company
If you want to reinvent your business, the first thing you need to do is deconstruct your company's activities. To do this, you need to find out your unique value proposition, the channels through which you communicate with customers, your key activities and resources, revenues, costs and partners.
Once you have these, write them down on a list so that you can refer to them later. If you can think of any additional items, please do so.
Imagine each element individually
The next step is to rethink each element individually to see if you could possibly do things differently. Sometimes you will find that you can make obvious changes while others are more subtle.
Often during your brainstorming session, you will find that you come across several methods to improve a particular solution. For some business owners, this can be a little confusing. Two compelling alternatives are both an opportunity and a potential problem.
Whenever possible, try to select the solution that best fits your company's strategic needs. For example, you might be looking for ways to cut your costs. There are two ways to do this. You can either switch suppliers or create your own manufacturing process from scratch.
Which is best depends on the needs of your company. If your in-house manufacturing skills are limited, outsourcing is the obvious choice. However, if you have the knowledge and want more control over the quality of your output, in-house production may be a better option.
During the brainstorming phase, avoid assuming that a particular idea works best. There are usually good reasons why you should use your current approach. Therefore, any changes you make should be made with caution.
Test your ideas
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The reason the scientific method is so valuable is because it prevents us from drawing our conclusions or inserting our prejudices. Instead, it tries to evaluate the outside world in a logical and consistent way that gives us real insight into how it works.
This is why it is so important to test your ideas after you start implementing them. Don't just assume they'll work automatically because other companies in the industry are using them. Usually there is a significant learning curve. And you may be working in a completely different ecosystem than your competitors.
As you test, try to change one thing at a time, then collect observations. If you change too much all at once, you will cloud the water and cloud the results.
Sometimes you want to make a number of additional changes in your business. Going this route allows you to test your performance before and after to make sure you are improving, not going backwards.
Be very careful when choosing your metrics. The yardstick you choose is very important.
Try to choose endpoints that are really important to you as a company. For example, when starting a new marketing campaign, you can measure the number of impressions. The results could show that the number of people interacting with your brand across touchpoints has increased by more than 100 percent, which seems like good news.
You have to be careful though. Even if the raw data goes up, your sales – what you really care about – could have decreased 50 percent and undermined your business.
As you test your ideas, make sure you do it independently. Check that they work individually before working with different parts of your organization.
Remember that if you make multiple changes, you cannot compare each combination individually.
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In the next phase, prototypes are created.
Prototypes do not have to be physical products in the traditional sense. It just has to be simplified or small versions of the changes you want to make.
For example, if your supply chain was the problem, you could make new micro-agreements with alternative vendors to see if relationships with them work better.
You can also start testing a new service on a small scale with a subset of your team. That way, you can build trust while avoiding your entire payroll being devoted to a task that may not generate real returns.
Basically, prototyping is about finding the path to success and finding out whether your ideas actually have legs. Sometimes you will find that an idea that sounded good on paper doesn't work out how you'd like in practice. Prototypes can also give you insight into the strategies that really work and that will provide the greatest possible benefit to your customers.
When looking for small business help, always focus on methods that use evidence. You will find that the entire approach in this article focuses on observing and gathering information. In that sense it is very scientific and similar to the scientific method.
Ultimately, you shouldn't just rely on your instincts to reinvent your business. Instead, use a scientific process of trial and error, trying new things and seeing if they affect the overall performance of your business.
Collect data from the market
Your customers want you to meet their needs. But they often get annoyed quickly if they suspect you are using shortcuts.
That is why it is so important to collect data from the market. Consumers want you to meet their needs, but you can only do this if you gather information about what is important to them.
In many cases, this process can actually save you a lot of money. For example, you may find that users do not want certain expensive features and prefer to develop a narrower but more robust product. So it can relieve the pressure.
Change your technology
Part of your brainstorming session should include a conversation about "what your company is really doing".
It may seem like an obvious point, but it's far from. Many companies do not have a fundamental understanding of the services they provide.
Take blockbuster film distribution, for example. In the 2000s, the company believed it rented films to its customers. After all, that was the physical reality of his business.
However, by 2010 it became clear that this was not what customers wanted. Instead, they really wanted novel film content. The moment streaming services became a more convenient route, Blockbuster went out of business.
Take some time to think carefully about what your brand is really selling. It sells a product, idea, service, or amenity. Consider the main motivations for consumers to choose your business.
Once you have this in mind, it's time to start thinking about how you can use modern technology to deliver it. Sometimes your business doesn't require any changes at all. In other cases, however, you find that your current practices don't make sense in the context of modern technology and you need to update them.
After all, all companies no longer have a runway. It's just the nature of the animal. A lack of growth is not a sign of failure; it means that your business has likely achieved remarkable success.
Most of the time, however, you cannot afford to rest on your laurels. At some point someone will come up with a superior business model and you will have a dwindling customer base.
Use the ideas presented in this article to regularly shake up your business and ask if there is something fundamentally different you could do. If you're sticking to ideas, reach out to your team for what you should do to make the company better. Since they are close to the ground, they usually have some specific suggestions.
The mail runs out of the runway? How to Reinvent Your Brand Before It's Too Late first appeared in Home Business Magazine.