This is the first article of a new series on business growth. In this series which I have titled “Business Growth 101” I
will be talking about the several challenges as well as tips on how to grow your small business. If you haven’t subscribed yet to naijapreneur! this is a great time to do that because you don’t want to miss out on any of the unusual articles that I will be sharing in the course of this series.
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The highs and lows of business
Business will be slow whether you like it or not, so get used to it! Sometimes, if the cause is within your control, you could do something about it. At other times, when things are outside your control, there may be nothing you can do. Fortunately for you, this unusual article is about the things you can do when business is slow.
In everything in life, there will be highs and lows. Business likewise, is no exception. There will be high sales periods as well as low sales periods, both periods are necessary for maintaining balance in business. Both are necessary forms of feedback and any serious minded entrepreneur should focus on making the most of both periods whether highs or lows rather than choosing one over the other. This is a fact of life and its better you get used to it and learn how to make the most of it.
As humans, it is only natural to think in dichotomies; positive and negative, good and bad, black and white, high and low, hot and cold, pain and pleasure and all others. The truth is this; we need both shades of dichotomies to maintain balance here on earth. Those things we refer to as unpleasant are actually the ones that make us better human beings.
After all, we are creatures of feelings, and the unpleasant ones tend to drive home the point faster than the pleasant ones. In other words, we learn better from our mistakes than from our victories. The same principle applies to the business world. You cannot have one side and reject the other; both are necessary and have their benefits.
Somehow, entrepreneurs don’t seem to have any problem dealing with high sales periods; after all, we don’t ever get tired of having more. But when it comes to the low sales periods, all hell seem to break lose. This unusual article is about knowing what to do when business is dull or slow. It will help you make the most of the low sales periods every business usually encounters every once in a while. It is very important to know that some low sales periods are self inflicted and others are not. I have decided to write this because one of the businesses I run is currently in this phase and I am becoming a better entrepreneur as a result.
Strategic Actions To Take During Low Sales Periods
When things don’t seem to be working out well in terms of revenue for your business, it is an indicator that something, somewhere, somehow is wrong. So, the first step to take is to trace the source of the problem. Meaning, take the pain to find out what is responsible for the low sales you are currently experiencing in your business.
What I have seen most entrepreneurs do when they are experiencing low sales is to lash out frantically looking for a ‘quick fix’ solution to the problem of low sales. I refer to this kind of response as taking wrong actions. In other cases, they simply respond by doing nothing believing that “this little affliction is but for a moment.” I refer to this kind of response as inaction.
Whether you responded wrongly or you didn’t respond at all, both are inappropriate responses to the problem of low sales. Folding your arms doing nothing won’t make the problem go away, and taking the wrong actions would only end up complicating matters. So what do you do?
Like every Physician, you diagnose before you prescribe. First find out the cause of the problem [diagnose] before implementing any solution [prescribe]. Spend time on the problem and let the problem give you a clue on what to do. Or else, you might end up treating symptoms rather than the actual disease. Then before long, the problem is back again. Remember, your objective is to solve the problem by understanding the root cause.
As I have mentioned earlier; whether high or low sales period, both are reliable forms of feedback for any business. High or low sales are not accidental; they are outcomes of certain factors. These factors are of two categories;
They are set of activities, behaviours, policies, strategies, and all other changes that occur within the walls of a business. They constitute the internal working environment of every business and are usually the making of either the management or the employees.
Internal factors are classified either as strengths [positive organizational changes] or weaknesses [negative organizational changes]. These factors if they are the cause of a low or high sales period are in most cases controllable and can be adjusted to alter whatever sales period your business finds itself.
For instance, if the employees of a business are performing at their very best, making sure every customer’s expectation is being exceeded every time they come in contact with the business, this can tremendously boost the sales of the business as it generates positive word of mouth for the business that eventually increases sales.
In the other hand, if the management initiates a drastic policy or strategy that will affect the performance of the employees negatively, this will in turn affect the level of satisfaction customers will get from the business. On the long run, a negative word of mouth is created and sales will eventually drop as a result.
Implying that, whatever changes that occurs internally within the walls of a business, can potentially increase or decrease sales depending on its overall impact on the employees and eventually customers. This is why I emphasized that high or low sales periods are very vital forms of feedback for every business. Never underestimate either of these two sales periods; they are great learning periods for entrepreneurs and the businesses they run.
They are the set of activities, consumer behaviours, policies, strategies, and all other changes that occur outside the walls of a business. They constitute the external working environment of every business and are usually the making of the government, society, economy, nature, technology, culture, competition and so on.
External factors are classified either as opportunities [positive environmental changes] or threats [negative environmental changes]. These factors if they are the cause of a low or high sales period are in most cases uncontrollable and will be a lot harder to influence in your business’ favour.
For instance, imagine what happened to the typewriter businesses when the computer was invented? This is a classical case of technology as one of the external factors at play in determining the low sales period every one of those typewriter businesses experienced during that era. In fact, the advent of computer didn’t just alter the sales of businesses, it completely annihilated those businesses.
Such is the power and effect of external factors on businesses; they are very uncontrollable in most cases. Most especially for the businesses that didn’t diagnose early to find out the cause of their low sales when computers started gaining prominence as a better alternative to typewriters.
In every high or low sales periods, at the very least, one of these two factors must definitely be at play. Your task as an entrepreneur is to dig deep to uncover the factor or factors responsible for whatever sales period your business is experiencing.
Over to you
Has you business ever undergone a low sales period?
How where you able to get through this period of low sales?
Do you think diagnosing is essential for uncovering the reasons behind the low sales period?
Share your thoughts in the comment box below, in the next article under this series, I will be sharing some of the key steps to take in diagnosing low sales period in your business. Make sure you don’t miss it!
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