Know Thyself: Tips for Regaining Your Business Focus
How to get your business back on track by going back to basics
We all know the feeling of sitting in a meeting, letting your mind wander a bit, remembering a great idea or project from months ago, and wondering what the heck happened to it? It was genius, and everyone was on board. How did you all forget about it?
The truth is, it happens to all of us. Why? Because someone else had another breakthrough idea the next day, and then you had another idea the following week, and slowly but surely, the original idea was lost in the abyss.
It’s expected that this will happen fairly frequently. There is so much going on in the average business every day, that it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle. But it’s a big red flag when this becomes the norm. That means the business is losing focus, straying from the original mission, and losing its sense of self.
Without following a central strategy, ideas are forgotten, projects are stopped and started, and work is re-done again and again unnecessarily. If leadership were to step back and look at their core values and mission, they might realize that more than half of the work their team is doing has nothing to do with what they’re trying to accomplish.
So, how do you get back on track and regain your business focus when you’ve gone a little too far off course? You have to hit pause for a minute to reevaluate.
We know we know, you’ll lose momentum and business and client loyalty, ahhh! But what happens if you don’t hit pause and keep going down the disorganized and chaotic path you’re on now? You will probably lose momentum, business, and client loyalty anyways. See what we did there?
Let’s explore some ways to get back in touch with the core of your business and refocus on the central mission for success.
What’s at your core?
Why did you start your business in the first place? Whether it was to save puppies and kittens from the streets or serve the best dang coffee in town, there was a reason you went to all this trouble to bring your services to the public. Close your eyes, and remember that reason.
Now, compare that to what your business is doing now. Are you crushing what you set out to accomplish and have since expanded into other areas? Or did you move onto those other things before you established a solid core?
Go back to the beginning and get a grip on your core reason for being. It may seem easy, but it will help realign everything else that’s gone astray. It should be simple, even boring. Something that bleeds into every product, email, and sale. Something that sets you apart from the competition.
By getting back in touch with your core products and services, you may realize that a lot of what you’re currently working on doesn’t fit. It’s an opportunity to establish a strong foundation and make sure your efforts moving forward are all part of the same strategy.
Who are you vibing with?
Understanding your customers and target market is something you should be striving for constantly. But if you feel that your business has lost focus, there’s a good chance that your current customer base doesn’t match the same group you originally targeted.
You can use analytics through Google, social media, and your email marketing platform to get a basic understanding of your customers’ demographics. Factors like age, race, gender, and income are all important to inform your future marketing efforts and product offerings.
You can use surveys, reviews, and feedback forms to dig a little deeper and fill in the rest. This is your chance to figure out why customers do business with you, what differentiates you from competitors, and what weaknesses your business has. You can also ask some questions to learn more about customers individually; interests, behaviors, preferences, etc.
Just as important as figuring out who your customers are is who your customers are not. You need to know who and where your target market is so you can reach them. Otherwise, you may be shouting into the void, waiting for a response that will never come.
Consistent communication with customers will do wonders for your business’ focus. Keep them involved in business developments and listen to their suggestions. They will tell you what they want and what your business can do better. Some feedback will be hard to hear, but you will lose them if you operate in a bubble and ignore them altogether.
How do you get out of the woods?
If you’ve lost focus, chances are you either don’t have a strategy for success or the strategy is unclear. Strategies should be simple and repeatable, so you can apply them business-wide. They should address core concepts like profitability and competitive edge.
How do you know strategies are working? You have to establish goals and benchmarks for achieving those goals, so you can track progress and performance. All too often, employees are given vague targets like increasing Instagram followers by 4,000 or reducing customer complaints by 10% without any real direction on how to get there or why.
You have to be clear on what success means for your business and how you want to get there. There are dozens of ways to get to the same outcome, so pick one that aligns with your values and mission. How you achieve your goals is just as important as the goals themselves. It’s more about the journey than the destination, right?
Your strategy for success should be the foundation for every decision your business makes, and every project your team accepts. It should be simple and have reasons for its existence. Most importantly, you need to believe in it and enforce it, so the business stays focused moving forward.
Who do you have on your team?
Your staff interacts with customers every single day. If they are confused about the business’ focus and their role in the company’s success, that will trickle down to customers through inconsistency and poor service.
Communicate a clear strategy every chance you get and tell employees how their work contributes to the overall success of that strategy. Share results with them, and empower them to participate with their own ideas. Conduct regular employee surveys and exit interviews to understand your teams’ pain points where leadership can improve.
When your staff is focused, they are passionate. They know what the goal is and how they are going to get there together. This will translate to every public interaction, making it a consistent experience for customers and partners.
We get it. It’s tempting to go down the rabbit hole, chasing the next big trend. That may lead to short-term success, but in the long run, your business will start to crumble because there isn’t a strong foundation holding it in place.
“Keep It Simple Stupid” is a business principle for a reason. Nail down your strategy and live and breathe it every day. If a project or idea doesn’t fit that strategy, consider putting it on the back burner for a while instead of pouncing on it right away.
Going back to basics and staying true to your business purpose will help get you on the right track, so you accomplish what you set out to do. If you’re getting bored with your strategy and are tempted to chase a new idea, don’t. It means you’re starting to get it.
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