Thursday, October 1, 2009

Changing Direction


     A few weeks ago I visited a former client  I  helped start a business several years ago.   At the time, I stood by him while he nurtured his ideas into a great concept and  then helped him build this concept into a thriving business.  We worked together on writing a business plan and putting together financing.  Once he had the money to  start the business I helped him find a location, set up operations, build  inventories,  develop financial systems and so on.

     When this talented entrepreneur finally opened the doors to his upscale store it took off with lightening speed.  After only one year it was profitable and it seemed as if it would continue to grow as the years went by.  That was five years ago.  When he called me two weeks ago to come visit, I was excited to see how things had progressed, to see if he met all the forecasts we cautiously had written into the business plan five years earlier and to see how he was facing the challenges of these difficult economic times.  Little did I know that I was in for quite a disappointment!!

     Nothing had changed in all the time that had gone by.  Just about all aspects of the business had remained the same over the years.   The  same customers frequented the store,  the same vendors were used, and  they used the same marketing materials we had designed at the beginning.   When asked why, this supposedly savvy business owner said there did not seem to be a need to change.  His customers were loyal and happy.  They spent lots of money in his store and for a while  increased their spending to the point that he was exceeding his goals.   Things were so good he saw no need to make a change… that is until the economic hardships that hit the USA a year ago started to impact him too.  All of a sudden his loyal customers could not spend as much as they did at the beginning and many just stopped coming in.  He was having difficulty paying his suppliers and everything seemed to be spiraling downward.

     This business-owners story  highlights the fact that a business needs to continually develop just like people do.  Nothing ever stays the same.  It is great to have loyal consumers, but it is essential to constantly grow your customer base because circumstances change.    A business plan is a fluid document and the goals it sets forth must be reviewed systematically to assess their achievability.   As goals are retired, new ones need to take their place.  If goals are not being met the reason needs to be found.   Marketing plans also need  to reflect the changing consumer base and culture.  This is especially important during difficult economic times.

     So it does not matter if business is good for you, or not, find that business plan you did ages ago, read it over, and map out the next direction going forward…..

No comments:

Post a Comment