A Three Step Strategy to Stay Ahead of the Game

Is your business model fit and strong enough to withstand the tough months ahead?

As markets continue to expand, contract and shift in response to changing economic conditions, it’s time to re-look at your business model and the key criteria driving it.

The burning – and arguably most important question as we enter Quarter 2 – at a recent What If? Forums meeting was: “What do I need to do to keep ahead of the game?”

As a Business Strategist and Executive Coach who has boosted the effectiveness and profitability of business owners and leaders of family run enterprises in the UK and overseas for more than three decades, I know that it’s critical to constantly check how relevant your business model is. Follow these simple rules.

Do customers value what you do?

Ask this simple question to customers and prospects, “What do you value about doing business with companies like ours?” Listening carefully to their answers and keeping your mouth shut is the best exercise ever. What If? Forum members discovered:

  • The expensive coloured architectural plans they were supplying looked wonderful but were not valued because the colours did not photocopy well.
  • Once customers became adept with the new technology and equipment they ceased to require or value the expensive technical support they needed in the early introduction stage of the product.
  • With modularisation and dramatically reduced unit costs the formerly very profitable repairs and spares service was no longer valued by customers.

Some customers select suppliers who challenge them, some choose those who act as a trouble-shooter by supporting them through tough times.

What is changing in your customer’s world that means they no longer value what you provide and charge them for?

Is how you do things still appropriate?

  • With customers able to access a myriad of technical information off the web do you really need to invest in costly and time consuming technical sales support? What do customers need from you?
  • As touch screens, smart devices apps and bar codes appear everywhere – are the days of your pen and paper systems over?
  • When are you going to switch to on-line videos and webinars to save the cost of exhibitions and training sessions?

With more of Generation X and the Millennials in key decision making roles being a techno-peasant is no longer acceptable.

Is there a better way of doing things?

  • Conduct a peer review – go for a coffee with a business owner of leader you trust and respect, ask them to cast a critical eye over your company and give you honest and open feedback. We do this annually with all our What If? Forum members and it is a real eye opening exercise – even for progressive people like our members.
  • Get out and see what others are doing. My recent visit to Nissan Manufacturing (UK) is still producing valuable ideas and insights for me and my members.
  • Invite experts in to do an assessment and review of your operations. The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) also examine all your processes including admin and finance.

Asking smart questions is the key to sustaining a successful business today and tomorrow. They may not give you answers you wanted to hear – but they will make sure that your business model is continually up to the job.

What have you learned recently about changing or adapting your business model?

For help in getting your business model fit for purpose, contact me via Richard.bosworth@whatifspecialist.com, @RichardWhatIf on Twitter, Richard Bosworth on LinkedIn or post on www.whatifforums.com.

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