Businesses face some pretty tough challenges Whether you are a big fish or a tadpole or even a start up the challenges are often the same. I should state that these encounters I am about to write about I haven’t exactly conquered. I just know how to deal with them a little more effectively. 12 years ago when we launched I had no idea about any of this stuff but I realised pretty early on if I wanted to be successful I had to wise up. The fact that my business is the success it is has nothing to do with me being anymore intelligent than you guys I’ve just learnt that following these steps has improved sales, multiplied profits and moved us forward in a big way!

Simply selling products I hate to say is just not enough!

Turnover is for fools

Can’t remember who said this but bottom line it doesn’t matter how much you take each month it’s the profit that counts. Profit is King and turnover is vanity! With no profit you can’t move forward you just remain static so if you’re not taking enough to move forward, or if your sales are stagnant you’ve got to figure out fast how to change that up. Sales need to increase, profit needs to grow. Plan ahead – work on promotional activities, marketing strategies, cross sell whatever it takes. People fail in business for 3 reasons, lack of knowledge, lack of vision and a failure to establish goals! Oh and if you’re starting off I cannot advise you enough to be properly capitalised and to have cash reserves, we didn’t and it nearly screwed us. Inadequate capitalization is a killer I learnt the hard way.

Embrace Change

The Internet is a rapidly changing thing, anyone these days can become a shopkeeper and it seems like everyone is which is a fantastic thing. You just need a domain name and a website and off you go. However you will not be successful if you think its merely about putting a load of images up there and waiting for the cash to come in, because it won’t or you’ll be earning peanuts at that. You must create something that is different from what everyone else is doing. Retail is a tough gig, no one gets that until they plunge in but if you are a visionary you will succeed. If you’re in it for a quick buck and instant success then let me tell you it won’t happen. It’s a long slow path however if you are passionate that won’t be a negative because you’ll see it as a challenge. That challenge makes you get up every morning and want to do better and push things further, and constantly change things up. Right now, this minute in fact we are revamping our home page making it stronger, cooler and edgier. We never stop tweaking!

Dealing with the changing world of marketing and keeping up with it

It is a minefield, the marketing thing. I find it challenging, and scary and something that is constantly evolving. We had a brainstorming session at AAHQ last week about a marketing strategy that takes us through the next 8 months and I’m hugely excited about it. There is no one formula as all brands are different but if you can tell a narrative and create a story through social and your products you are half way there. I want to go above and beyond and I devote a lot of time figuring out how to do that. I read a lot, I research a lot and I drill into what the big boys are doing. I’ve never yet reached the end of the rainbow I don’t think you do in business. You can always find ways of growing it and making it more successful which rather than seeing as a challenge I actually find quite exciting. Rewind 12 years and I would never have thought our business would have grown into what it is today! That is what keeps me going through thick and thin. Having a successful business is not actually about competing solely on price because we all know that leads to a race to the bottom. Rather its about effectively marketing your businesses to the outside world and getting more customers and sales as a result.

Uncertainty

Uncertainty in the economy makes us all, me included focus on the short term, but I can’t tell you enough to strategically plan up to 5 years ahead. Short-term goals will destroy your business because you won’t ever move on, so learn how to balance reactive short-term focus with longer-term strategies. Otherwise you will find your business in a malaise. You will never work on increasing profit’s, awareness, or customer base and in the end you will quit because it will feel you are working all hours under the sun for zero profit and who wants that!

We all want our businesses to succeed right, but get this in the first five years many don’t, over half in fact shut up shop. Which means that one out of every two fail! Scary stuff! However if you can face these challenges head on or at least be prepared or aware of them, or if you can recognise and overcome these pitfalls you will grow your business and it will thrive like mine has. Sometimes, quite often actually you will feel out of your comfort zone, but you know what you can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable at times.

That as they say is a fact!

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