Ask Dr. Deborah | Stuck in a Rut
Dear Dr. Deborah,
I’ve owned my own business for several years now. Generally speaking, I’ve done fairly well. However, lately I feel like I’m stuck in a rut. Sales have slowed down and I just can’t figure out why. I’m not in the red yet, but I soon will be if things don’t change. What can I do to get sales moving again?
You are very smart to act on this issue now rather than wait for things to get worse. It also shows that you are watching your numbers closely, which is very wise.
As for getting sales back up and moving again, let’s first step back and examine potential causes. There could be a number of reasons for this. These reasons can be external as well as internal to your operation. Externally, it could be shifts in market demand, economic factors or competitive forces. Internally, perhaps your offerings and/or your marketing requires a “new and improved” approach.
To help you narrow in on the issue, a tried and true SWOT analysis is a great place to start. A SWOT analysis provides a well-structured and straightforward process for examining complex elements that affect your business both internally and externally as follows:
- Strengths (Internal) | What strengths does your business possess that allow it to operate efficiently and profitably?
- Weakness (Internal) | What are the weaknesses limiting your operational effectiveness?
- Opportunities (External) | What opportunities exist in the marketplace/industry for growth?
- Threats (External) | What market factors threaten business growth and success?
Take your time when answering the above questions. Be sure to write your answers down. If you have employees, invite them to also participate and write down their own answers before coming together as a group to share respective views.
Consider engaging in some industry research as well. Current industry data offers valuable insight regarding industry trends and projected demand. It also provides a platform where you can compare your perceived strengths and weakness against the competition. Another great tool for understanding what’s going on with sales is to invite your customers to tell you. There are free survey tools in this regard that can make this process easy, fast and effective.
Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis and survey, you’ll be in a much better position to understand what may be causing slower sales activities. From there, you’ll also be in a better position to choose the best way to correct for it.
Knowledge is freedom of choice!