5 Practical, Sustainable Ways to Help Your Business Thrive

e-commerce mistakes

Whether you own a long-running business or just started one from home, there comes a point where you face the challenge of ensuring your business continues to grow and thrive. In an increasingly competitive world, that can often prove more complicated than many people expected, especially when you don’t know how to grow your business. It doesn’t have to be. In today’s post, we share 5 practical, sustainable ways to help your business thrive in the long run.

e-commerce mistakes

By focusing on the right tips and employing proven tactics, you can make it much easier to help your business thrive despite competitive and economic pressures. Five of these tactics stand out more than you’d think. They’re not only relatively easy to implement, but they have much more of an impact on performance than you’d think. They even let you grow your business sustainably, helping your business grow in the long term.

It’s worth diving into these tactics and how to implement them effectively in any industry or business context.

5 ways to help your business thrive

Face it, starting a new business is hard but pales in comparison to the task of helping your business thrive against increasing competition, economic pressures such as increasing interest rates and inflation, legal threats to your industry that are especially prevalent now as states begin interfering with commerce such as Florida’s fight against Disney, changing consumer demands, and other elements of a hostile external environment such as Covid and AI, which are a two-edge sword offering both opportunities and challenges.

Most businesses fail to meet these challenges and fail in droves, as you can see below.

help your business thrive
Image courtesy of Zippia

Begin your efforts to help your business thrive by creating a business plan that carefully and thoroughly researches these elements of the external environment to assess their impact on your potential to grow. Repeat this process on a yearly basis, at a minimum, and constantly scan the environment for signals that something is changing in the environment. Then, include elements from the internal environment such as your target market (more completely termed a persona when it contains information beyond the basics such as pain points, lifestyle, and media channels that effectively reach the market), pricing information (and if you need help pricing your product to provide value to consumers, I wrote something on pricing to help you), promotions (including an analysis of the effectiveness of various campaigns and channels, as well as messaging), and distribution channels (along with an evaluation of the effectiveness of each channel partner). If you have never created a business plan, it looks much like this marketing plan. Adding planning elements from other verticals, such as operations and HR to this plan fleshes out the business plan.

Now that you have the basic business plan well in hand, it’s time to consider tactics to help your business thrive by investigating the following five tactics that might help.

Tactics to help your business thrive

Grow established revenue sources and consider the potential of new ones

Over time, you developed revenue sources, with many companies having more than one revenue stream. Some sources are larger than others, while others represent future potential as the market grows over time. For instance, you might consider branching out to new products that fit with your existing market or simply putting more effort into gaining customers for your existing products. These two strategies are relatively low risk as they fit with your experience and skill set. You might also consider riskier strategies that have greater potential rewards such as diversifying into a totally new market with a new product (representing the greatest risk but also the greatest potential reward) or consider taking your existing products into a new market such as introducing a product to an international market or a different gender.

The Ansoff Matrix, shown below, summarizes these strategies and the accompanying rewards and risks in a succinct fashion.

entering new markets
Image courtesy of Corporate Finance Institute

Since expanding your current efforts represents the lowest risk, let’s focus more attention on this opportunity.

Commonly, the first thing that comes to mind when I talk about market penetration is more advertising or reduced price. But, there are lots more options that are less expensive and potentially as effective or more effective than these tactics. Here are just a few of them:

  • Improving the efficiency of your operations such as streamlining the checkout process or shortening the time horizon for deliveries (or providing better consistency in deliveries)
  • Managing your lead nurturing programs. For instance, optimizing your email follow-up by employing deep personalization or using retargeting to advertise on social media to those with prior visits to your website.
  • Create partnerships to make your product more appealing, such as bundling your product with another product that works together to solve a consumer problem. An example is Koolaid working with an ice cream maker to create a Koolaid-flavored product.
  • Use demand management to right price products for markets with different demand elasticities. For instance, Disney recently implemented weekend pricing that allowed them to sell higher-priced tickets for weekend days to customers who could only attend the parks on those days. This allowed them to sell lower-priced tickets to consumers who cared more about saving money than when they went to the parks and meant the company didn’t have to price these consumers out of the market by increasing prices for everyone.
  • Create a full line of products around your existing products so that some are less full-featured and sell at a lower price and some have all the bells and whistles so they sell at a higher price.

Of course, these are just a few options available to penetrate your existing marketing and you can combine this tactic with all our other advice to help your business thrive far into the future.

Keep employees happy

The happier your employees are, the better they’ll do their jobs. Not only are happy employees more committed to doing their jobs, which translates to higher productivity, but happy employees mean happy customers as they are more likely to work with customers and colleagues in a friendly, empathic, and accommodating fashion. You also find lower costs when your workforce is happy because there’s less turnover and lower absentee rates.

Of course, happy employees aren’t something that just happens. It’s the result of a concentrated effort that combines hygiene factors and motivating factors, something from Herzburg’s Two-factor Theory of Motivation. Hygiene factors include various compensation benefits, such as higher pay, good working conditions, and insurance, such as the new rail industry worker medical. The more competitive your compensation and its benefits are, the happier your employees will be.

Unfortunately, the happiness factor of hygiene elements doesn’t last long. That’s where motivating factors like training, advancement, and personal fulfillment are more long-lasting. Also, don’t overlook your business culture when you’re trying to make them happy.

Be adaptable

Every industry has its trends and changes, and you’ll need to be adaptable to deal with these. As I alluded to earlier, there’s no telling what’s on the horizon or how things can change, so you’ll need to be able to adapt to things as they come up. By constantly scanning the environment and establishing a corporate culture of change, you can adapt to changes in the environment more quickly. Companies that become stuck in the status quo find it much harder to adapt and often adapt too late to salvage their business.

An effective board plays an essential role in fostering adaptability within an organization. It sets strategic direction, anticipates and navigates through changes to the business environment, and fosters an atmosphere of agility and openness to change. Also, a board facilitates balanced decision-making processes, adapts to changing circumstances quickly, and encourages continuous learning within itself. The board effectiveness can even increase its ability to understand dynamic market trends more readily – ultimately contributing to its long-term survival and success.

Improve customer experience

The customer experience is vital to determining whether or not they’ll come back. If someone has a terrible time with your company, they’re not likely to do business with you again and they spread their discontent far and wide to influence other potential buyers against your brand. That’s why I advocate assessing the customer piss-off quotient over customer satisfaction and don’t pull any punches by asking for honest answers.

Improve your customer service as one way to improve the overall customer experience. Here are some tools that might help:

  • A well-trained AI chatbot that lives on your website to provide answers to questions 24/7. Training the AI is critical for its success as a poorly trained chatbot is worse than none at all.
  • Clarity and openness about your product and pricing.
    • Don’t drop in a shipping fee or other fees at the end of the process unless it’s clearly shown early in the process.
    • Don’t pull any punches when it comes to information on your product.
    • Don’t force customers to create an account to get information or order from you. For instance, I once looked at a meal kit website that didn’t let you explore their menu options without creating an account. I’m a very picky eater and it means a lot in my decisions that the company offers menu options that fit my tastes.
  • Provide an easy-to-navigate website and a streamlined check-out process.
  • Offer multiple options for lodging a complaint including email, phone, and social media. Respond quickly and completely to complaints and be transparent. Don’t try to bury complaints.
  • Listen to what customers say about you online and respond to issues you find by making policy or product changes and sharing those changes with your market.

Live your values

Today’s consumer is value-driven, as you can see below:

corporate social responsibility
Image courtesy of Customer Insight Group

Ensure your values align with those of your target market. I recently read that MyPillow is close to filing for bankruptcy after many large retail outlets stopped carrying the brand after the founder came out very strongly in support of the “Stop the Steal” efforts to overturn the US election in 2020.

When I say live your values, that means more than just giving lip service to your values. Show your values through your actions, such as engaging in a beach cleanup or changing your sourcing to a company that’s more environmentally friendly or noted for its equitable treatment of workers.

Conclusion

Trying to grow your business can often be much more complicated than many people expect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make it easier. By using the right tips and tricks, you’ll grow your business sustainably.

Keeping employees happy, improving your customer service, growing established revenue sources, and similar tips can also help. With how much of an impact they’ll have on your business growth, there’s no reason not to implement them into your business processes.

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