In so-called ordinary times, many businesses experience the need to reinvent themselves to meet changing customer demands. Today, months into the COVID-19 outbreak, the “reinvention challenge” is more pressing than ever.
Leaving aside the enormous hurdles presented by our current situation, businesses often encounter other conditions demanding that CEOs and owners contemplate reinvention. Such conditions include:
- Products or goods that have lost customer appeal.
- A new or established competitor’s entry into the market.
- Advances in technology render current offerings irrelevant.
Whatever the situation, business owners should at least have a reinvention plan in mind. Here are tips to help formulate a plan for this contingency.
Assess what your competitors are up to.
The actions of your competitors can indicate it’s time to re-invent. As we have noted elsewhere, monitoring competitor activities can include:
- Look for changes in their websites or even a complete redesign.
- Pay attention to messages they emphasize on social media.
- Evaluate the appeal of the content (articles, case studies, etc.) they are promoting.
- Always take in the “big picture” through a customer’s perspective.
Also, to the extent possible, try to determine if their sales are outperforming yours and, if so, what are the underlying causes.
Conduct a no-holds-barred brainstorming session.
Unless you’ve already had a revelation concerning what your re-invented business might look like, now is the time to gather your most trusted and imaginative team members to take on this task. Brainstorm ideas around the present-day challenges your business faces, challenges yet to come, ways in which your products or services can be redefined, even what a totally new business model might look like.
Remember, in a brainstorming session, there are no bad ideas. You never know what the “a-ha” moment might look like.
Throw caution to the winds.
At the earliest stages, there’s little risk in proposing bold new ideas centering around re-invention. When such ideas emerge, test their viability through a customer survey or by bouncing the idea off trusted advisors. You’ll most likely also have to alter your messaging to ensure the new direction will “keep the reputation of your business” intact, notes We Heart Entrepreneurs, adding that it’s vital to “get a positive rise out of your public and out of your potential customers.”
Focus on differentiation.
There’s little point to re-inventing a business if it’s not going to be dramatically different from (a) what you had before and (b) what’s already out there in the marketplace.
Remember, a clearly defined unique selling proposition always answers a customer’s most pressing question: “Why should I do business with you instead of one of your many competitors?”
Managers Resource Network suggests the following differentiating factors to prioritize in your re-invention strategy:
- Quicker, more efficient customer service.
- A higher-level customer buying experience.
- A wider array of product options.
- Generating a higher volume of sales at reduced prices.
Any plan to reinvent a business must “identify ways in which you can differentiate that new offering.”
Don’t discard the things that already work.
Re-invention doesn’t mean tossing out an entire business model. If certain processes and systems work well, they can likely be adapted to the new undertaking. Other tips include:
- Maintain functions and operations that are still viable.
- Improve communications with constituencies who are inclined to support a new endeavor.
- Pinpoint areas where cost-cutting makes the most sense.
Any reinvention still needs a strong foundation in order to succeed. At least some of the factors that have generated past successes can be retained in your ambitious moves forward.
As noted, input from others on your reinvention plan is essential. There may be no more effective sounding board than the views and insights of fellow CEOs and business owners. Now is an ideal time to explore Membership in TAB and benefit from what other veterans of business reinvention have to say. Learn more about how TAB offers real-world small business solutions that can help your business grow.