If you are a young entrepreneur, it can be difficult to imagine all of the ebbs and flows your business will have to survive over the coming years and decades. You are concerned with the here and now, making sure you get through today before you even worry about tomorrow. The situation is totally different for a business owner who has existed for ten years or more. For this person, some level of stability has been achieved, but there are many more years to account for. The question for this business is, will updates and investments improve business or would it be better to keep things the way they are?
It’s not an easy question to answer. If your business is in a profitable holding pattern, this isn’t the worst place to be. Lots of successful American businesses quietly thrive through the years, providing steady profit for owners and employment for workers. These businesses usually aren’t flashy, experiencing huge growth at all levels of their business. But their steadiness provides integrity to their services and makes them a firm aspect of the economy.
On the other hand, some businesses reach maturity only to find they’re losing their edge. While still profitable, profits are dwindling quarter by quarter. Owners are left to wonder if this is due to competition, the changing times, or a decline in quality on their part. It can take a lot of analysis and outside intervention to ferret out the problem. And even then, solutions can be expensive.
There are certain kinds of investments which can be made in declining/plateaued businesses which are sure to pay off many times over. Each industry has a few of these. In restaurants, for instance, it’s the POS system. Modern eateries are abandoning their old-style black-box credit card systems, for next generation iPad POS solutions. These POS systems look so much better than their predecessors, and work much more smoothly. It’s better for staff; it’s better for patrons. Seeing one of these things when you walk into a restaurant sends a signal that this place cares about simplicity and design. It’s important to find ways that your business can be sending out the same signals.
It’s also important to spend money to investigate new markets. If you are a business that has existed for some time and has never fully integrated with modern e-commerce, now is absolutely the time. This is tremendously important for retailers and service providers who still rely primarily on brick and mortar. It may be possible to create the web experience your customers need using only existing platforms like Amazon and eBay. Or you may have to commission the creation or an entirely new platform. Whatever you do, try to understand how much business you could achieve if you could harvest buyers from all over the world, not just your geographic region.
If your business is secure and mature, maybe you don’t have to spend money on updates. But if you hope to grow and innovate in heretofore unachieved ways, you’ll have to identify new ways to build your business. Figure this out and you’ll have lots of business going forward.