It takes a combination of all the rights things to make a business successful – you need a product or service, a target market, a sales strategy, financial backing, insurance, premises … but what happens when your business stops being successful and starts to decline?

Don’t worry, it has happened to many successful businesses even one of the world’s biggest soft drink brands, Coca Cola took a dip in sales in the ‘80s, and started losing ground to Pepsi. However with the launch of New Coke which is seen by some as a monumental mistake and to others an amazing piece of marketing, saw the company quickly regain its place as leader of the soda manufacturers.

  • Even the greats went broke at some stage and many have landed back on their feet*:
  • Henry Ford – bankrupt in 1903 – eventual net worth of $188 billion
  • Donald Trump – bankrupt in 1990 – eventual net worth of $3 billion
  • Walt Disney – bankrupt in 1921 – eventual net worth of over $1 billion
  • Stan Lee – bankrupt in 2000 – eventual net worth of $20 million

However the question does remain: what do you do when your business is not doing as well as expected? Here are 5 tips to help you get back on the road to success.

Tip 1

Take a careful look at the product or service you provide, and see if you can find a way in which people can use it differently or if you can add new features to your product and attract new clients or see your existing client base make more use of your service. For example, if you run a beauty spa, offer birthday spa parties for young girls.

Just ensure that the service, product or feature that you add is still cost effective so that you see a return on your investment.

Tip 2

Do some market research and act on the research. Start with your own clients by asking them a few questions; if you have their email address you can conduct online surveys through one of the many free services.

Questions to ask:

  • Why did you choose me as your service provider
  • Do you feel you get good value for money by using my service/product
  • How often do you use/purchase my product/service
  • What could I do to improve the service product
  • Would you recommend my product/service to others

Remember to keep your questions short, factual and to the point, so that you hold the interest of your client base.

Tip 3

Don’t be afraid to stop offering a product or service that isn’t working. If you need to get rid of stock, consider promotional offers such as two-for-one deals, reducing prices or bundling the stock with items that sell well. Remember, if you’re selling items, you need a stock exit strategy anyway, so it is good to develop one. This will mean you always have space or opportunity for something new.

Tip 4

Look for bigger companies that operate in the same space that you do, for example if you’re a handyman, ask your local hardware if you can use their store to ”advertise” your services. If your sell a particular product, look at finding other stores that sell similar items and ask them to add your product to their inventory.

Tip 5

Sign up to forums that are made up of like-minded people such as on LinkedIn or the South African Institute for Entrepreneurship, where you can ask for advice and find out more about how you can get the best out of your business strategy.