“When you put your heart and soul into your work, it can be very hard to let go.” - Richard Branson
For most entrepreneurs and small business owners, there comes a point when they must answer a serious and deflating question: “When is it time to give up on my business?”
When you take a closer look at your business, however, there may be a possibility that you don’t actually have to throw in the proverbial white towel. Instead, you may just have to give your business a facelift. But, what signs should you be paying attention to indicate that your business does in fact need some work? Here are twenty of them.
NOTE: While this article is geared toward entrepreneurs and small business owners, many of these signs are applicable to marketers of all sizes and shapes, including those with CMO in their title.
1. Your Services/Products Have Changed
When starting a business, there’s obviously a lot of trial and error as you attempt to fill a need. For example, your business may have started out as lunch delivery service for construction companies, but over time development has slowed. Are you going to continue serving this market or move on? If your products or services are no longer relevant because they are outdated or because the market has changed then it’s time to evaluate which direction your business will be heading into.
2. No One Knows Exactly What Your Business Does
Have you ever tried to explain what your business does or offers to people only to be greeted by confused looks? If you can’t explain what your business is doing clearly and concisely, then it may be too complicated for customers and investors to support.
3. Your Business Name Doesn’t Fit
If your company name is Tri-State Dog Groomers, then would your customers know that you also groom cats or provide boarding services? Make sure that your business name reflects the products and services that you offer so that customers know exactly what you’re all about.
4. Revenues Are on the Decline
One of the most obvious signs that your business needs a facelift is how you’re doing financially, mainly revenues. Take a look at financial ratios, such as gross margin and profit margin, to determine whether or not revenue is decreasing. Remember, a decline in revenue doesn’t happen overnight. Paying close attention to it is a clear indicator on how your business is doing financially.
5. You Aren’t Meeting Financial Expectations
As stated on Entrepreneur, financial projections allow you to “take stock of where your company is, and establish a clear course to follow.” Besides planning goals and anticipating problems, financial projections will be used by creditors. If you notice that these expectations are off, then you should be making changes to your business strategy.
6. Product Production Isn’t Efficient
Are you certain that you product is being produced in the most effective way possible? Is there new technology available that makes production cheaper, faster or more efficient? Instead of doing things the old way, keep up with the latest tech advancements that can help decrease costs and make your product even better.
7. You’re Falling Behind Schedule
If you aren’t able to keep up with important goals and objectives, then you and your team have to sit down and diagnosis the problem. Brainstorm ideas on the best possible ways to get back on track – even if that means altering your business plan.
8. You Don’t Have an Effective Accounting System
Spreadsheet is a thing of the past when it comes to accounting. There are more than enough cloud based financial tools such as Due, FreshBooks, Wave, and QuickBooks – that can manage your invoices, payroll, taxes and pretty much any other accounting or bookkeeping need that you need for your business.
9. Sales Leads Aren’t Converting
It’s not enough just to identify and target leads, aka the people who have the interest and budget to make a purchase, you need them to convert. If you aren’t converting leads, you need to do a little digging and find out why. According to research, the top reasons are:
- Price of product or service
- Failure from sales team to perform
- Product or service isn’t compelling
- Terms or conditions of doing business
- Failure of marketing team to perform
10. A New Competitor Rocks Your Boat
Competition isn’t a bad thing. Not only does it prove that there is a market for your business, it also keeps you on your toes so that you can provide the best product or service available. However, if a new competitor comes along and completely interrupts sales then it’s time to do perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis.
11. Product Market Has Changed
Are you still marketing to the right audience? Has the demographic changed? Is it time to expand into a new market? The wants and needs of customers change over time. And, if your market no longer requires your products or services, then you need to find out who your target audience is and how to reach them by going back and doing some market research.
12. Growth is Out of Control
While growth is important for the success of a company, you have to prepared to manage it. If not, it can do more harm than good. Can you meet customer demands? Is customer service able to handle concerns and questions? Will your website crash if it has too many visitors? Are you spending too much money? Do you have an awesome management team to help lighten the load?
13. Your Website is Outdated
A website is absolutely essential for businesses. But, as Nicole Denton notes on HubSpot, it also has to be “well-designed, easily navigable, engaging.” In fact, a study conducted by Stanford discovered that “75% of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website.” Drew Hendricks states on Infographics To ensure that your website meets customers expectations, make sure that it is:
- Mobile responsive/adaptive
- Not in Flash as phones can’t read
- Loads as fast as possible (less than 3 seconds)
- Updated – fresh web design, copyright dates
- Easy to manage content
14. You’re A Jack-of-all-Trades
It’s not possible for your business to be everything to everyone. If you’re in the shoe business, does it make sense to manufacture and market running shoes, dress shoes, slippers and socks or focus on the product that your audience demands most? Instead of making a number of inferior products, perfect that one product or service that your customers will love.
15. Social Media Accounts Aren’t Gaining New Followers
It doesn’t matter if your company is new to social media or you have been using social media for years, if you aren’t able to attract new followers then something’s wrong. Always make sure to interact with your customers and share quality content on a consistent basis.
16. Loyal Customers Are Fleeing
If you’re most loyal customers are deserting you, then you have a serious situation on hand. Are your charging to much for similar products or services? Is your no longer relevant? Has the quality of your business gone down hill? Is your customer service lacking? Answering questions like these could clue you in on how loyal customers are no longer sticking around.
17. Location, Location, Location
If you have a physical location, then you need to make sure that it’s not rundown, matches your business and is in an appropriate location. It wouldn’t make sense for a scuba equipment business to be located in Nebraska, would it? And, you wouldn’t clients to step inside an office that is literally falling apart. Even if you’re an online business, location is an important consideration. Are you able to effectively ship your products effectively? Are you paying too much for taxes?
18. You Need a New Logo
As Patrick Llewellyn, president and CEO of 99designs, stated ”A logo is your business’s public face.” If your logo does not work with modern media, doesn’t represent your business, is too complex, isn’t appealing and was a do-it-yourself project, then it’s time to give it a much needed update.
19. Business Strategy Has Changed
Sometimes a business needs to pivot - Starbucks originally sold espresso makers and coffee beans – so you may have to take a hard look in the mirror if your business has completely reinvented itself. If your original business strategy isn’t syncing with the original, then sit down with your management team and figure out what went wrong and how to avoid it going forward.
20. Employee Morale Is Low
Employees are often times your biggest cheerleaders and brand advocates? So, what do customers think of your business if your employees aren’t happy? Clearly, something’s wrong. Instead of letting problems within your business accumulate, address the problem and boost morale by building a culture of trust, talking to employees, rewarding them for hard work and making the work environment a little more fun.
This article was written by Steve Olenski from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.