New Year Plans

Happy New Year. So, how’s your business and where is it heading?

What are your plans for taking your company into the next year? How about the next five? These are times of great economic uncertainty but can you honestly remember a time that wasn’t? Rather than bemoan flat sales or the industry bubble bursting, the time to advance your business is now.

Avoid the plague of being “good enough.” It keeps innovation and unique thought at a minimum and forces expectations low for you and your customers, making you like anyone else. To often, “good enough” businesses resort to lowering prices to try to recover or gain market share. If price is your only USP (Unique Selling Proposition) most literate people capable of using Google can find a wholesaler that can beat your price still. The only way to raise margins then is to loosen your standards of performance and be willing to accept less profit, less innovation, less growth, less customer service or support.

Complacency is another subtle killer and the bleating of “we’ve always done it this way” is a sure way to give up the ghost. This guarantees that when you do open your eyes, you’re going to be behind. So if you want to destroy your business just do what you have always done, or you could realize the world of today is much different than it was even a month ago. You always have a greater capacity to give, create and change. Regardless of the economic conditions, change is imperative, demanding constant attention to finding a better way of doing business and communicating with customers.

The challenge this year (no, I won’t call it a mere “resolution”) is to understand where you are now and decide on a path. By avoiding the crutch of good enough and a real desire to find a better way will let you better understand your particular local market, their needs and desires. Upon sensing a real, needed change don’t be afraid to change your direction. With the recent rush of tactical sales, perhaps that market and appropriate accessories is ideal. Offering or supporting concealed carry classes or hunter safety classes may become your biggest draw. Catering to serious competition shooters, proving that you truly “get it” may work best of all.

Get a cup of coffee, a legal pad, a sharp pencil and draw a line down the middle of the top sheet on the pad. On the left side brainstorm the changes you’ve always dreamed of making, anything that might make your business grow and prosper. Then, on the right side of the dividing line, copy over those items that make sense for your customers, are actually affordable and give you the most bang for the buck. Of course this requires a sharp focus. Perhaps the best change for you actually is maintaining the status quo. Blindly following some temporary trend at the expense of loyal customers is just as bad. How would you make your business best support your customers? If you knew you could not fail, what would you do? Do that and you probably won’t.

Read more in our January 2011 issue. Subscribe today!

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