Do you feel like the growth of your small business has plateaued? Don’t fret. Many successful companies experience slumps, even if they do have first-class products, superb customer service, and a steady flow of customers. Growth can be stalled due to an imperfect strategy or a lack of resources or simply because it’s part of the normal cycle of business growth and evolution.
The good news is, there are strategies that can help your company gain the momentum it needs to carry it through the ups and downs of doing business. Sustaining growth will then be a matter of managing momentum.
How do you manage momentum?
Knowing when to speed up and when to slow down is as crucial as knowing where your business is heading. Do you play it safe instead of making a tough decision? Missing the window of opportunity can dampen your momentum and give someone else an advantage.
This is what led to the demise of Nokia — the company went from being the world’s best mobile phone company to losing it all by 2013, simply because it was reluctant to enter the smartphone market. Although it had already built a prototype of a touchscreen, internet-enabled phone at the end of the ’90s, it failed to turn all that research and development into actual products.
Meanwhile, jumping the gun can also backfire if you don’t think through the implications of a decision. Take New Coke for example. In the early ’80s, Coke was still outselling Pepsi, but its market share was declining and The Coca-Cola Company had to make a move. The industry juggernaut came up with a new formula and released it on its centennial anniversary in 1985. The decision to replace the original Coke with New Coke set the brand back — causing a 20% drop in sales — so it didn’t take long before the company realized its error and reverted back to its original formula and taste.
The trick is to keep your finger on the pulse of your business — regularly assess where you are relative to your goals and adjust your strategy accordingly.
Tips to maintain business momentum
Here are three ways to ensure your business maintains momentum:
#1 Invest in your employees
It has been proven time and again that to run a business successfully, business leaders must take care of their employees. Investing in your staff’s development is the key to stimulating change and innovation that will eventually propel your business upward.
Google’s “20% time” policy is a perfect example of why investing in your employees can keep you ahead of the curve. By encouraging their employees to work on a side project of their choice for one full day per week or 20% of their time, Google has fostered a culture of collaboration and innovation and built a mindset of continuous growth. This policy is arguably one of their most successful management practices, and has birthed some of the company’s most notable projects, including AdSense, Gmail, Google Maps, Google News, and Google Talk.
Implementing strategies that provide employees with opportunities to expand their knowledge can instill in them the drive, creativity, and forward-thinking abilities necessary to maintain high business momentum.
#2 Make the tough call
You can’t expect growth, let alone movement, if you hedge your bets and hesitate to make the hard decisions. It’s never easy, but these decisions are what turn plans into actions, and actions into results. When you avoid making the tough choices regarding major business challenges or unclear situations, then you’re setting up your business to fail.
In 2017, L'Oréal Paris fired its first transgender model, Munroe Bergdorf, for speaking up about systemic racism while under contract. Recently, the international cosmetics company rehired Bergdorf after L'Oréal was accused of being "hypocritical" and "performative" for posting on social media in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
L'Oréal Paris' new president Delphine Viguier regretted the "lack of dialogue and support the company showed" Bergdorf in the past, and apologized for how the brand handled the situation. The brand also asked Bergdorf to serve in its UK Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board, which she accepted, and pledged to donate to causes personal to Bergdorf's experience.
In short, instead of letting their momentum be bogged down by the accusations, L'Oréal promptly moved further ahead.
So whether that tough call includes taking back an old decision or facing accusations head-on, focus on setting things in motion again and seeing every undertaking through to completion. Bear in mind, however, that it’s vital to exercise good judgment to ensure that decisions are desirable and acted upon to resolve existing issues or concerns.
#3 Embrace change
Your business environment will constantly change, and the only way to keep your company growing is to deal with these changes by being resilient. Accept and understand that these changes are inevitable, and use these opportunities to find fresh solutions and innovations that bring your business the most value.
Netflix is a case in point. The media company is widely known for being a disruptive innovator, constantly reinventing itself to meet changing consumer needs and expectations. The first time Netflix innovated was when it delivered mail order DVDs. Then it offered unlimited rentals with no due dates for a flat fee, putting an end to the single rental structure. After that, the company transitioned from mailing content to digitally streaming movies and TV shows, and now, Netflix is producing original content.
What makes Netflix successful is that it lives by the business strategy of adapt and adopt, changing course in response to shifts in the industry and taking advantage of new technologies and information to enhance consumer experience.
This also shows that just because you’ve already achieved key objectives once or twice or several times doesn’t mean that the work toward business growth ends. To maintain business momentum, you need to invest in the right tools and have a long-term vision.
When your business is stuck in a holding pattern, it can be hard to get out of it. One minute you’re growing faster than you expected, then in the next, you’re struggling to achieve that same level of success. No matter how hard you try, your business won’t be able to overcome challenges if you lack knowledge, resources, and drive.
The process of maintaining momentum can be stressful and uncomfortable, and passion and good preparation may not be enough to sustain growth. What’s imperative is that you cultivate a culture of quick thinking, flexibility, and pushing boundaries. Once you’re rolling with good momentum, you’ll see that stuff gets done, employees and customers are happy, and money keeps coming in.
We at Wood Dragon IT can help your Connecticut company leverage technology to keep your business momentum going. Partner with us today, and we’ll help you take the first step on your journey to success.