Saturday, December 3, 2011
As the economy continues to decline, with horrible Federal Reserve policies, turmoil in the Middle East, and the financial collapse of the European Union contributing to the uncertainty, there are some simple things you can do to protect your business.
One of the worst attitudes you can have is to just hope that the economy improves, so customers will start buying more product off your shelves. This is a common practice with small business owners. Instead of making tough decisions, they prefer to just fret and complain and hope for a miracle.
To make the necessary business survival steps more vivid, let's view them from the negative angle: what to do to make sure your company goes bankrupt.
Small Business Failure Checklist
* Just hope that the economy improves -- and customers magically start spending more money in your store.
* Blame your sales slump on the competition -- and hope they fail so you don't have to do anything to improve what you're doing.
* Keep ordering more product, and cluttering your store with things nobody cares about, rather than determining which products are selling best, and focusing on them.
* Scatter your product categories all over the store, rather than grouping them together, so that when a customer is shopping for a specific category, they won't see all the alternatives and options in one place, but have to hunt and hope they found everything available.
* Purchase whatever your vendors suggest, trusting them to be concerned with your best interests rather than their own profits.
* Don't exhibit products based on the change of seasons, holidays, news stories, internet buzz, trends in the industry, focus groups, surveys, customer suggestions, competitive maneuvers, or any other data -- just leave things alone and hope for the best.
* Don't have daily morning inspirational briefings with your staff, to keep them excited and informed.
* Don't talk to customers to find out how you could improve your operation.
* Don't ask your staff for ideas on how to improve things, because then they might start thinking you're not an all-knowing being with godlike powers and unquestionable authority.
* Trust the media salesmen who want you to keep buying advertising on radio, TV, and newspapers, but don't provide statistics on how effective these media buys are for you.
* Delegate social media strategy to employees who have no business education or proven marketing skills.
* Treat your customers the same way you always have, without looking for ways to reach out to them in creative, innovative ways.
* Ignore what your competitors are doing to meet customer needs, stick your head in the sand, and continue to hope those methods will fail, because you don't want to change anything you're doing.
* Never tie in with holidays, just hope that customers will come to you for their holiday needs, even though you don't decorate your store appropriately, provide holiday-oriented products, or offer holiday-oriented discounts.
* Remodel your store but refrain from remodeling your sales staff with good motivational material.
* Don't bother training your staff, even with free material they can view on the internet, because people don't like homework or exerting themselves to save their jobs or keep their employer prosperous.
* Don't have any gift card programs to reward customers for usable testimonials, because you just don't care about investing in genuine, customer-generated marketing.
* Ignore any marketing ideas from employees or outside consultants, because you know everything, and how dare they suggest there might be something you could learn.
* Don't use blogs, Facebook, Twitter, GooglePlus, QR codes, or any new technology to promote your business -- because you don't want people to think you are keeping pace with modern methods and strategies.
* Ignore the reality of online sales, cell phone shopping, partnering with other local businesses, and local search -- since these emerging trends are confusing and you are too busy shuffling papers around on your desk.
* Don't provide a Suggestion Box in your store, with note paper and pens, or if you do, don't bother reading the suggestions.
* Delegate social media work to someone, then stay away from it, don't jump in from time to time with your own remarks and content, because you're paying someone else to represent you, and you don't want to present your own thoughts to online community members.
* Ignore changes in the market place -- if your competitors are selling hot wings and pizza, you don't have to do so, because why worry about what customers want or expect?
* Strut around like a big deal and treat employees and vendors like slaves or nobodies -- after all, you are highly exalted and superior to everybody else.
* Don't educate your customers about how you are different and better than your competitors -- just assume they already know this and don't need any reminders.
* Don't help your customers choose the product best suited for their needs -- just display product and hope they select what they need without any assistance from you or your staff.
* Don't confront any employee who comes in late all the time, is rude to customers, wastes time on the job, has a bad attitude, violates company policy, or spends too much time on personal activities -- who cares about excellence or company morale?
* Just push product on social media, rather than sharing expertise, personal interests, funny anecdotes, company history, product selection and comparison tips, human warmth, genuine interactions with social media participants, or non-commercial content.
* Stay in the back of the store, in your office, with the door closed -- why get out and mingle with customers or provide a salesmanship role model for your staff?
* Don't promote your blog, ecommerce site, or social media web addresses aggressively with the URLS printed on business cards, tee shirts, coffee mugs, pens, hand-outs, or signs in the store -- just hope customers find your online presences by magic or luck.
* Tell people "check us out on Facebook" -- but when they arrive, they're greeted by an incomplete profile, no photos of store, or products, or happy customers, and there are only a few wall posts and no interaction with other people on Facebook.
* Decide you "don't have time" to engage in social media participation. A placeholder presence is enough. If customers want to know more about your business, they can go to your website, which is a dismal disaster, has broken links, is not updated, and is poorly designed.
If you follow these simple tips, that require no brains or effort, I guarantee your business will close within 6 to 12 months. Trust me. I've seen it happen, but I refrain from naming names to protect the ignorant.