Four rules to take a business from troubled to thriving
How to survive changes in the market
Most businesses launch as a result of need in a certain marketplace, in response to demand for a specific product, or with an innovation or more efficient service offering. A business may thrive for many years fulfilling the needs of their specific market and consumer demand. But inevitably, in the majority of industries, businesses have to adapt to changes in the market. In that moment, the business will either survive by changing with the market or sink and have to close. In the business world, as with the animal kingdom, life and death is a matter of survival of the fittest.
My company, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC. provides transcription services to businesses and professionals in a variety of industries. When I launched the business in 2010, our primary focus was to provide transcription services to medical practices and hospitals. My business started out on a strong growth track until 2012, when profits began to trail. As many businesses in the medical industry moved to voice recognition systems, new leads began to shrivel and our projections sank. I realized we had to make some serious changes to avoid going under and began a complete overhaul of our service offerings. Today Transcription Outsourcing’s business is only 50 percent medical based with legal and law enforcement clients, plus general small business clients, making up the remaining 50 percent of our customer base and revenue source.
My business nearly tanked in 2012, but I was able to save the company by following a few simple rules and my gut instincts. These rules are applicable to any business in any industry. Read on to learn what saved my company from going under.
1. Admit that failure is an option. One of the hardest things for a CEO to admit is that the product or innovation that launched their company may not be the one that sustains it long-term. It is hard to give up on the idea that launched 1,000 ships, but sometimes that idea can’t keep the ships afloat long-term. Admitting that your business could go under if changes aren’t made is often a very difficult thing to do. But once you admit to yourself that the company is floundering, you have opened the line of thinking to find ways to save it.
2. Sometimes trial and error is necessary. Once you realize that your business needs to adapt to a changing market, you can begin to look for ways to save it. Though a scary proposition, sometimes trial and error is the only way to make any headway. If your tried and true radio advertising campaign suddenly isn’t bringing in new business, maybe it is time to try social media. If your current personnel aren’t bringing innovative products to the table, maybe it is time to bring in some new blood. When I realized it was time to make changes to my business, I tried various new methods of marketing, advertising, and hiring personnel. Some changes worked, others did not, but through the process I was able to streamline my business and utilize fresh techniques to get my company out of the red.
3. Realize that nothing will go as planned. Many times, a CEO’s vision of growth and a profitable future can become the company’s Achilles heel. There are so many factors which affect various markets that are out of your control that you have to be prepared to scrap visions and start fresh. When my company began to lose revenue, I had to figure out other sources of income aside from my medical clients. I focused on my bottom line as ‘cash is king’ at the end of the day. If you can’t pay your bills, you won’t be open for long. For every dollar or client lost, I looked for a creative solution to replace streams of revenue.
4. Listen. If your company’s profits begin to head south, it is time to start listening. Focus on clients, and what they are telling you, either verbally or with their wallets. Listen to media, other influencers in your market, and other businesses that share relationships with your clients. Find out where needs have shifted. Focus on communicating with your employees as best as possible. Often times your ‘feet on the ground’ will have a better understanding of the pulse of the industry. Start asking questions and keep your ears open.
All businesses will reach a point where they need to diversify and adapt, or else face the possibility of failure. This rule applies to behemoths such as Apple and Google, as well as even the tiniest corner shop. Often the simple acts of listening, observing, and trying new things can save a business from failure. And of course, a bit of luck never hurts.