The only way is up: How and why every business should evolve
Updated: Jan 7
Evolution - the gradual development of something, especially from a simple to a more complex form.
Any seasoned business owner will tell you that change is inevitable. If your business isn’t changing, that’s probably a sign that something is wrong. Market trends change. Internal changes happen. Customer and client needs change over time.
As a business owner, even you change. It’s all okay. Embrace change as a way to show up newer, better, and stronger. Evolve.
Apple releases a new phone every year and a half. Netflix is constantly changing rules and prices to compete with other streaming services. Even your beautician learns new techniques to offer new services. Evolving is an essential part of the process if you're pursuing longevity.
WHY BUSINESSES EVOLVE
There are three main reasons businesses evolve. Fast-paced growth, slow to no growth, or changing business models. These are all perfectly normal. Paying attention to the needs of your business is a sign that you have your finger on the pulse of your industry. It’s understanding the specifics of why and how your business should evolve is the hard part.
Congratulations if your business is growing faster than you can keep up with. This is a problem many business owners wish they had. High-paced growth is exciting but can be hard to manage. In this case, change is inevitable but it’s a positive change.
Adapting to growth can call for several different actions. You may need to put new organizational processes in place. For example, if you have a service-based business having people contact you personally to schedule might have worked at one time. With more demand however that's no longer feasible, and now you need scheduling software.
For a solopreneur, growth might mean having to hire staff, outsource certain tasks, or even implement a waiting list. Doing these things can take time but having a business that's in demand is a blessing.
SLOW TO NO GROWTH
When a business isn’t growing or reaching goals it can be a bummer. If this is the case, don’t beat yourself up too much because you aren’t alone. Over 70% of businesses don’t survive their first year. Even more don’t make it to year five, much less year ten. The key is to not give up but to evolve.
If your business is struggling to grow, not only is it necessary to evolve, but the survival of your business depends on it. Go over your goals and make sure they’re realistic. Review your operations with a fine toothcomb to figure out what's not working. Is there a lack of demand? Is your customer service bad? Are you using improper marketing tactics or marketing to the wrong audience? There's no way to go except up, but first, pinpoint why you're down.
Study campaigns and plans that just flat out did not work. Look at competitors to see what they do well. Start small and come up with 1-3 changes you can make. If all else fails, seek outside help.
CHANGING OR EXPANDING A BUSINESS MODEL
Often when business is going well business owners look for ways to expand. A proven track record makes it easier to qualify for grants, loans, and even business partnership opportunities.
This is typically an action taken by more mature businesses. Sometimes this looks like removing certain products/services to serve a more targeted or niche market. Other times this looks like expanding product lines based on customer feedback and needs. There's no right or wrong way to expand your business model, but there are some specific things you can do to make sure you're moving in the right direction.
WHAT TO DO WHEN IT'S TIME FOR A BUSINESS TO EVOLVE
If you notice any of these tell-tale signs that it's time to make changes in your business, you may not know what steps to take next. No shame. Many people get to this point. If you fit into any of the mentioned categories, these tips are for you.
FIX THE BUGS
Similar to when an app developer launches a product, they think it's perfect on launch day. It has all the fancy bells and whistles, but it’s hard to foresee what problems will arise before people use the product. Look at your business the same way. Now that you have some experience and have been able to see what works and what doesn’t. Fix the bugs.
That might mean implementing new systems, creating a better process for customers, or several other actions. One of the best ways to know what to fix is so simple but overlooked by many business owners. Asking the customers. You should always be gathering customer feedback. Often times they know our products better than we do. If you struggle to get customers, ask potential customers who opted not to buy why they chose a competitor instead. Hearing the feedback might be uncomfortable, but the other option is continuing down the road of no sales.
ASSESS YOUR MARKETING
Perhaps your business isn’t hitting goals because you aren’t getting in front of the right people. Maybe you’re not getting in front of people at all. Marketing can make or break a business. If a business is slow and addressing the marketing wasn’t part of the analysis that’s a red flag.
Entrepreneurs function on tight budgets. Still, don’t let a small budget cause you to neglect your marketing efforts. Hire someone to help when you can. If you aren’t yet ready to hire, there are SaaS platforms like HubSpot, Canva, and other resources that can help with some DIY marketing.
On the other hand, if a business is growing fast or expanding, this is also a great time to review marketing efforts. High-paced growth is often due to a combination of good marketing and an even better product or service. Still, there's always room for improvement. As a wise man once said, never get too comfortable.
For businesses expanding, it's worth noting that with a new product comes a wider market. Ensure your marketing efforts cater to these wider markets. Don't leave money on the table by assuming that what worked before will work forever.
HIRE A CONSULTANT
Hiring someone isn’t always about them to doing a specific service. You’re also paying for access to their experience and knowledge. If you know your business needs to change but can’t quite figure out what, working with a consultant can remove the guesswork.
Hiring a consultant has a lot of benefits. Not only do they know more than you, but often they have connections within their network that can help you take your business to the next level.
The thought of hiring a consultant might seem overwhelming. There's also a rising number of scammers on the internet offering top-dollar services with little value. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down the choices:
Hire someone who has worked in your industry. If you’ve launched a tech startup, seek consultants who have experience working in the tech space. If you’re opening a salon, seek a consultant who has worked in the beauty industry. Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule, but do what makes sense.
Look for a proven track record. The digital age and social media birthed hundreds, even thousands of self-proclaimed experts. Many people have knowledge but do your due diligence when looking for a consultant. Ask about other brands they’ve worked with. When interviewing, are their methods evidence-based or just theory? You don’t have to be a genius to know when someone hasn’t really done the work.
They won't promise results. Ultimately the success of your business is your responsibility. Not even the most profound consultants can promise a high return. Markets are too volatile and again they're advising you and not working for you. If big-ticket promises are being made... RUN.
If you feel like you’ve hit a wall about what to do next, ResumeMe can help. Whether you’re new in business or been around for some time, we can help get you to the next level. We don’t just consult; we create opportunities as partners.
Evolve or die. It sounds extreme but in business, it’s true. Technology has done away with the days of doing things one way forever. These days no one is reinventing the wheel, the one who improves it fastest wins. Do what it takes to grow, and you’ll never stop winning.
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This blog was written by Lauren Thomas with LT Writes.