A conversation was started in at least two online forums yesterday by a stamping business owner who was feeling discouraged about her business. It seems like no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't get her business off the ground.
First, let me say that if you're feeling that way, you're not alone. Owning your own business is tough. Starting a business is tough. Maintaining a business is tough. And growing a business is really tough!
Having said that, I also know that any one of you can start, maintain AND grow your own stamping business! In many ways, it's even easier to that now than its ever been.
After reading through many of the comments in these forums, I'd like to offer a few suggestions to help you stop struggling:
1. What Worked Yesterday May Not Work Today
If you're in a situation where you used to have high customer attendance at certain types of events, but that's no longer the case, it may be that your customers have moved on to other things. The question is, have you moved with them?
One of the biggest mistakes you can make in business, and I see this happen in the stamping business community every week, is sticking with something even though your customers have told you by their actions they don't want it anymore.
Businesses are always changing. They have to in order to survive. If your business today looks pretty much like it did two or three years ago, but your numbers look a lot worse, that may be a sign things need to change.
2. New Customers Are Key
The other thing you need to look at is your customer base. How many new customers have you added in the last year? If the answer is, 'not many,' that's probably part of the problem.
Most stamping business owners simply do not do enough marketing. If you're not doing some type of marketing every day, truthfully, you're probably not doing enough.
If you're not bringing on enough new customers, your business will always be a struggle. If you're also doing events that your existing customers don't want, it's a powerfully negative one-two punch.
3. Focus On The Big Picture
No one change is going to turn a struggling business around. Business owners in this position often look for the 'magic bullet.' Unfortunately, there really isn't one.
What you need, instead, is a plan. Start with your overall Objective, then deterine what needs to happen in your business long-term in order for you to be able to achieve that Objective. Finally, break those long-term goals down into short-term ones.
What you'll discover is you probably have to do many different things concurrently in order to turn things around. And that's OK. A business is never just one thing.
And don't think you have to put 40 hours a week into your business to be successful. You don't. If you have a plan, and you stick to that plan consistenly, you'd be amazed how little time you actually need.
Remember... if you don't plan your success... you're planning your failure.
4. Don't Chase Ideas That Aren't Going To Grow Your Business
Stuggling business owners sometimes feel desperate. When they feel that way, they often do things just to get something... anything. While that may make you feel better in the short-term, it actually makes it less likely you'll succeed in the long-run.
Pursue the ideas that are actually going to make your long-term Objectives a reality. Crunch the numbers before trying anything. Make sure the ideas can stand on their own, and aren't dependent on a big downline check on the back-end.
Don't get sucked into the 'everyone else is doing it' or 'this successful person is doing it' trap. Most of the time, this falls under the iceberg theory. You only see about 10% of the whole thing. If you just copy the 10%, you're not going to get the results you're seeking.
5. Don't Compete For Customers And Downline Who Aren't Going To Grow Your Business
Another desperation move is to offer your products and services at dirt-cheap prices. Again, doing this only makes long-term success more difficult. If you fill your business with 'customers' who only found you appealing because of your discount, how long can you sustain that? If the loyalty of the customer is to the price-point, instead of to you, how long before they move on to the next person who's offering an even cheaper price?
In order for your business to survive and thrive, you have to get paid your rate. And you should only work with customers who are willing to pay you that amount. Anyone who isn't simply isn't a customer. If you're not willing to commit to that, you're always going to struggle.
6. You Have To Invest In Yourself Before Asking Others To Invest In You
This gets back to #1. The world is changing. Your customers are changing. And your business has to change with it. The road to success is littered with the remains of businesses who refused to change with the times.
Continuing education is one of the most important aspects of being a successful busines owner. You can't serve your customers if you're not moving forward with them.
For example, for better or worse, we're a technology-based society. Your customers are utilizing technology more and more. That means, if you want to continue to grow your business, you have to, as well. To stubbornly refuse only hurts one person.... you!
The most successful people I know are always learning. I personally spend between $20,000 and $30,000 per year on my continuing education. I'm not saying you have to spend that kind of money, but you have to invest in yourself. If you're not willing to make that investment, why should others be willing to make an investment in you?
If you're struggling, there are many things you can do to lessen or even eliminate the struggle. But you have to be committed to change. To change the way you've done things. And maybe, even, to change yourself.
If you are committed, though, there's nothing you can't do!