Business is simple, when you think about it. Figure out what works and keep doing THAT. It applies across the board to almost every aspect of business – to marketing, to operations, to human resource management, to customer service. Find the magic formula and stick with it.
Except that what was working sometimes stops working because although your business may stay the same, the environment in which it operates is constantly changing. So what worked for the last decade doesn’t quite get the same results today as it did when you first developed the system.
It’s almost worse than an obvious flop because instead of a big crash and burn, your business suffers the slow descent into mediocre results. You get in a results rut where you no longer measure how what you are doing performs. You assume that because it worked in the past, that it will continue to work forever more.
How to Avoid Falling into a Results Rut
#1: Pay Attention to the Environment – Understand how the changing business environment impacts your business and ask yourself if you need to change how you do things to keep up.
Take social media as an example. Many early adopters reaped the rewards of shifting their marketing budgets away from traditional media into social media, even though traditional had worked just fine for decades. The changing environment meant that an integrated approach worked BETTER.
#2: Benchmark and Measure – Quantify your results for every aspect of your business. Knowing what you saw for performance in the past allows you to evaluate if your results are continuing to be as good as previously.
Good metrics to benchmark are your cost per lead, prospect conversion, average spend and lifetime value. These core metrics allow you to evaluate many aspects of your business, from the effectiveness of your marketing to customer loyalty.
#3: Try New Approaches – Not to say drop what you have been doing, but give a new way to doing things a try. Before you commit to a new direction, create a pilot program to test the new approach and weigh against the old way of doing things.
This is where it is helpful to get an outside perspective on your business, preferably someone who will challenge your ways of doing things and suggest alternative approaches. Often the reason we get ourselves in a results rut is we can no longer see the big picture.
#4: Stay Sharp – Constantly look for new ideas, approaches and tools to enhance what has already worked. Pay attention to current trends and read up on success stories and ask yourself what you can apply to your business as it is today?
The key is to adapt what other businesses are doing to your particular business. Often the best sources of new ideas come from businesses or industries that are completely unrelated to our own. Look for the wisdom behind the approach to find the real gems.