As the global market and economy continue to shift and change, it's important that as business owners, we are listening to see where we should be taking our business, especially when disruption is imminent.
Without listening to exactly what is going on internally and externally around you, it's likely that your plans and goals will be interrupted, leaving you with the necessary action of pivoting again and again, and slowing your ability to grow and take your organisation to the next level.
Our team at The Entourage, Australia's leading coaching and training provider for business owners has asked for the help of B2B customer acquisition and retention consultant and one of our Growth Partners, Michael Haynes, the Founder of Listen Innovate Grow, to share with you the 3 key areas that you as the business owner need to look at to identify the right opportunities that will bring your business the most growth in 2022.
1. Listening to your business's strengths and weaknesses
The first step any business owner needs to take to ensure they are making the right strategic decisions when setting long-term goals and objectives is to have clarity around things like:
- The long-term vision of the company - the ultimate contribution your business can make either to the world, to your consumers, to your community, or to the environment?
- What your mission is to get you to that vision - the tangible, audacious goal that will enable you to actualise it.
- Your company's current strengths and weaknesses - take a look back and leverage your internal operational data, sales, profitability data and customer data to better understand this.
One of the best ways to really understand how your business is doing is by listening to your customers. They have a wealth of information that they can share with you if you regularly speak to them that will give you clear indicators and directions on where you should be taking your business to move forward into the future.
Ideally, you want to be talking to a mix of your customer base. That includes:
- Customers that are your brand advocates. They love you and rave about you
- Customers that have left you
- Customers that hate you
- Potential customers that have never bought from you
- For B2B, make sure you're talking with the decision-makers and those influencing the decisions
It's not just important to do it regularly through things like surveys and reviews, but also important to have actual meaningful discussions where you can incentivise them to give you their feedback. Record these discussions and share those insights back into your organisation to brainstorm, workshop and identify what the key areas are to be focusing on. You can ask things like:
- What are their key goals and objectives in relation to your vertical?
- Where are they having challenges in this area?
- Is there any feedback they can give you in regards to the products or services you provide them currently?
- Are there additional products, services, value-adds they would love to be seeing from you?
2. Listening to the market
Once you've ensured you have developed a better understanding of your business, where it stands with your customers and what the gaps or opportunities are, it's important to tie that into your industry as well as the overall market, whether that's in your geographical location or around the world.
You can gain a better understanding of the trend and developments happening through places like industry and professional associations relevant to your business, research, events and webinars related to your industry or market, as well as any industry or government reports and research that can provide reputable key insights into things like broader customer needs, mergers and acquisitions, and technology developments as well.
Community groups for your industry, occupation, or just business groups in general, such as The Entourage, are great places to learn from other like-minded entrepreneurs who are likely going through the same challenges you are. Finding mentors and business coaches in these groups can also help guide you in the right direction.
3. Listening to your competitors
Lastly, it's important to look at your competitors as well. They might be doing something that you're not doing, and it's important to understand why. Are they doing some areas better than you, or worse than you? How can you work off of that in a strategic way to win over more business down the track?
One way to do this is by looking at your competitors' websites or social media pages. Have a look at their announcements, case studies, testimonials, the messaging they're using to target their customers. See if they have any presentations or reports that can give you an insight into what they're doing and how they're meeting the customer's needs.
You could even do a mystery shop to better understand their marketing and sales processes as well. These will all help you find the gaps and opportunities that you can use to develop a better strategic plan for the future of your business.
Spending this time doing this research, documenting it, and then pulling this information together with your team to share your learnings and identify what your next key priorities are is one of the best things you can do for your business's long-term growth and sustainability, especially in such uncertain times in the market.
Doing this with your team will not only help gain them as stronger advocates for the strategies you develop together and will work on together but also helps them gain a stronger understanding of the why behind what you're doing as well as the best ways your business can gain a competitive advantage to help solve more customer's problems, wants or needs.
If you're looking to learn more about business growth and opportunities, listen to the full episode of our podcast, The Make It Happen Show, with Michael Haynes, as well as see more of how our business coaching and training can grow your business to 7 and 8-figures, and beyond in 2022.
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