The opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
In any company, whether you own a soccer team or run a shoe company, there are strategic moments where you can change how you deploy your resources to get new results.
For most companies, that period comes in the fourth quarter, a period of reflection that allows them to take a fresh look at how they use people, time, and money. Businesses that approach this opportunity with intention will start a new cycle with the right tools to address his three biggest challenges facing businesses, change their trajectory and rise to the next level. can do.
Related: 5 Essentials for Success for Entrepreneurs and their Startups
1. Stand out
Your biggest competitors aren't necessarily other companies or influencers in your field. Your biggest competitor is what you know nothing about what they are good at and how you can exploit their weaknesses. The first step in launching or rebranding is research. Everyone thinks their business is unique, but is that true? It's important to research the market and take a close look at what stands out.
Who is in your space? Find out who they are and how your concept differs from theirs. What do they do best? How can you meet a need they don't ask for?
In-N-Out Burger has found a way to stand out. Many burger joints offer multiple specialty burgers, but In-N-Out makes things easy. Their brand is one of radical simplicity, from the limited selection to the clean store staff and basic color scheme. In-N-Out Burger meets your needs. People's lives are complex. Ordering a burger should be simple. The company does just that, and its sales prove it.
As we examine the space you're in, we'll create a unique selling proposition to ensure you meet your customers' demands. Be willing to make changes based on the research and reflection you have done throughout the year.
2. Building a community
With more people working remotely, staffing shortages, and reduced customer service hours, consumers are often frustrated when they contact businesses and don't get a response. Your business is a community. Do people enjoy being part of your neighborhood, or do they feel left out and alienated?
Creating a sense of community starts with accessibility and connection for customers and employees.
When a customer calls, someone should at least be able to handle the request and move it up the chain. Loyal customers need to feel that their dedication is appreciated. Some of the best companies offer once-a-week meetings on topics where clients can learn more about their products and services and have the opportunity to provide feedback. This is an opportunity to identify problems early rather than when it's too late.
Similarly, you can build meaningful connections with your employees. With so much work being done remotely, blogs, newsletters, and digital messages can help your entire network feel part of your company's activities. CEOs can meet virtually or in-person with a small, rotating group of employees to exchange ideas and get critical feedback. Special corporate events and retreats can create a strong sense of camaraderie among teams and create opportunities for leaders to get to know employees on a more personal level. This creates an exciting synergy within the team.
Related: 6 Best Practices for Growing Your Small Business
3. Overcoming uncertainty
The only guarantee in the business world is knowing that big changes and change will always be a part of what you do. Growth predictions may be wrong. The business environment can be volatile. However, some of these big changes or “unexpected events” are quite predictable. If you're planning a beach party to launch a new surfboard company, you can expect weather changes to ruin your event and cost you tens of thousands in marketing and preparation.
It is important to research the fiscal year of your target industry. There are economic cycles that must be considered. For example, if you're doing marketing, it's important to understand that different companies have different tempos. When booking speaking tours, most organizations ask for proposals in the last quarter. However, if you want to launch a campaign or business, December is not a good time as it will conflict with the holidays. It's important to understand the seasons and plan accordingly.
With all the unknowns, the best approach is to find a way to provide stability. Ask questions, consider all timings, and be flexible during the planning stage. Outdoor events do not need to be held in Sioux Falls in January. There are many better months.
Another area of uncertainty is people. If you're short on staff, you can create a team with diverse roles, but make sure everyone has the same basic tools and knowledge base. The football team has first and second teams, all the way down to the practice squad. In other words, you have a backup. If everyone has the same basic skill set, you can step up and replenish as needed.
When hiring a new person, it's important to consider all factors. Is it the right time to partner with people or contract a group to work on a big project? By asking the right questions, you can avoid paying more for expertise that can't be utilized because the timing isn't right. You can avoid that.
Related: Invest in growth or cut costs? 3 things top companies are doing well despite economic uncertainty
A few simple strategies can help your business grow while other businesses are closing. Taking the time to do the necessary research will help you establish a long-lasting brand that stands out from your competitors. Utilizing your resources wisely can help you overcome any business challenge. Knowing and honoring your current season can remove some uncertainty. We may not be able to stop the cycle of change that occurs. However, a few small adjustments can make a big difference for you and the community you serve.