5 Signs That You Should Change Your Business Operations

You might think things are going well. You could even believe that things are going great. However, subtle changes in your industry or other external factors, such as consumer culture, might lie in wait for you in the future. That’s why the past is only a limited predictor of the future. This issue could spell disaster for your business, so it’s important to identify and recognize the signs you need to change business operations so you don’t face an unexpected downturn.

The external environment shows you should change your business operations

external environmental factors
Image courtesy of Open Libraries

Above, you can see the five external environmental factors (also called uncontrollable factors) that impact your business. Unless you’re a massive business with a strong and effective lobbying effort, you have no control over these factors. Even a massive business can’t control all the factors in its environment. Instead, your business must adapt to a change in the environment with a change in your business operations, like new or improved products, new messaging, or a better price (termed internal or controllable factors) to take advantage (or at least retain parity).

Another important aspect of the external environment is that it isn’t always obvious that something is changing until it’s too late to adapt to the changes. That’s why it’s important to continually scan the environment to see if anything is on the horizon that might impact your business. A good example is cultural change, which can lie under the surface until the change reaches critical mass, at which point it explodes. For instance, you might not detect a shift in consumer attitudes toward influencers until your sales drop dramatically. And that’s a situation we’re experiencing now, where 90% of consumers no longer trust influencers, which means that your spending on influencer marketing is now a waste.

Discovering environmental change

As I said, environmental change isn’t obvious until it’s too late. Hence, you must consistently scour resources to determine if elements are changing. As you can imagine, it’s hard to determine whether the changes you detect are true changes or simply normal variations that occur all the time. Hence, you may see a change in inflation rates but it is almost always unclear if this change will continue or whether actions that impact inflation rates might moderate to bring inflation back down again. It’s also challenging to predict how consumers will respond to an increase in inflation rates and whether their response will be the same for all types of products and in all contexts.

Responding to environmental change

As a company, you have four tools you can use to adapt to changes in the environment. These are:

Copyright: Stuart photo / 123RF Stock Photo

Some of these, like promotion and price, are relatively easy to change and the change takes effect quickly. Product and place (which refers to elements of your distribution strategy, supply chain relationships, and similar logistics factors) take a LONG time before you can enact change that consumers notice. That puts even more pressure on these aspects in terms of forward-thinking as you work to change your business. For instance, planning for the launch of a new product can take seven years or more. Waiting until a downturn in product sales is well underway to adapt your product to a changing external environment is likely too late to save your business.

Subtle signs you need to change your business

Of course, this discussion of the external environment and your adaptations to capitalize on these changes are like a major tectonic shift. They require you to change your business in a massive way. There are more subtle signs that you need to make less drastic changes to the way you run your business to optimize performance. Here are a few of the subtle signs you need to make some changes.

You can’t keep up with emails

Email messages are a normal part of a business and you may receive hundreds of email messages daily. Some of these messages are useful, whether from clients or suppliers, yet others could be spam or cold emailing strategies. An abundance of emails means you risk suffering from information overload that can severely impact your team’s efficiency. Filtering emails can help minimize the amount that comes through in a day, while a simple FAQ or automated response bot can also answer customer questions without clogging your inbox.

newsletters build influence
Image courtesy of Forbes

Productivity is low

You can also identify poor operations because your productivity is low, whether at the office or working remotely. This issue could be related to inefficient setups like your networks or outdated systems. Upgrading your package to services like Microsoft 365 for business can streamline operations and make it easier for employees to communicate, collaborate, and complete their work.

Other productivity drains include inefficient scheduling. For instance, if you must stop what you’re doing to handle problems, your productivity can decline precipitously. Meetings are a huge drain on productivity to re-think whether a meeting is really needed or could be replaced by an email message.

You’re wasting money

Small businesses can rarely afford to waste money, so working out a sufficient marketing budget based on tactics designed to efficiently deliver on your goals is vital for maintaining cost-effective marketing operations. If you struggle to get by, you must reconsider how and where you spend money. You can reduce costs by downsizing your office or using different materials and software. Leverage to meet your needs by renting rather than buying and collaborating with third parties rather than hiring full-time staff.

No one knows their role

Everyone should know what they need to do at work. Every employee should clearly understand expectations related to their role and who is responsible for what to eliminate wasted effort and redundancies. However, poor communication and uncertain job descriptions can affect your team. Workers may be unsure about what you or the client needs from them, and though they should speak up and ask, they may not get an answer quickly. Managers can avoid this confusion by outlining every stage of a project or determining job responsibilities to ensure everyone understands their role and can get on with their work.

You’re not getting the most out of resources

Whether it’s a situation where your content is not driving traffic or you are spending too much to develop new products or services, you need to find the root of the cause to ensure you get the most out of your resources. As technology and development practices evolve and improve, businesses like yours must keep up with them. If not, there is the risk of being left behind and being considered outdated by competitors and consumers.


The solution when you face any of these subtle indicators that you need to change your business is to start by understanding the root cause of the issue. For instance, with an abundance of email messaging, you might need to hire additional staff to manage the workflow. But, it’s just as likely that too many messages suggest you need to change how you do business. For instance, you might send messages to ensure your team stays on top of a project, while a project management tool might replace the messages and do a better job.

For productivity declines caused when you’re constantly interrupted by problems, questions, or the need to handle an immediate need (such as posting to social media on your schedule), you need to establish ways to avoid these interruptions as stopping and starting a project is very inefficient. Time management or tools like marketing automation might help. Handle interruptions caused by problems that arise unexpectedly or questions by understanding why you’re faced with these interruptions and creating solutions. You might create a policies and procedures manual as a way to address how things should be done to avoid problems and answer routine questions.


You should never assume that everything is going perfectly. There are always ways to improve your business, so keeping your head in the sand will only cause you to fall behind. These points are the most common issues businesses face, so see whether you could make essential improvements to get your operations back on track.

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