No one wants to see a business fail, yet according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, less than 33 percent of the companies that were founded in 2006 were still operating 10 years later.

There are several contributing factors to why a business must close its doors, but with proper planning, flexibility, and understanding your customers’ needs, this fate can be avoided.

 

1. Have a plan

Start by defining your vision for your company. Where do you want to be in 5-10 years? What do you hope to accomplish? This process should include writing a list of both short and long term goals. You can then develop your strategy for reaching your goals. Your strategy should be detailed and include metrics on how you plan to measure your success. Many businesses have failed because they didn’t have a proper strategy in place that would allow them to achieve their vision.

 

2. Keep up with changes
It can be challenging for business owners to continue to keep up with changing trends and technology. By allowing your company to fall behind, you are putting your customer service program in danger and increasing the chances that your customers will switch to one of your competitors. At that point, it is often too expensive or too late to catch up.

 

3. Know your differentiators
What makes your company different? Why should your potential customers come to you instead of going to your competitors? If you can’t articulate your differentiators, your customers won’t be able to see the differences either. You should look at what you offer your customers and determine what makes you unique. If you do offer the same service as your competitors, what makes your company better? This will help you create your unique value proposition (UVP). Your UVP should be included on your website and any of your marketing collateral – this will act as new information to prospective customers, while reminding your existing customers why they should stay with you.

 

4. Understand your customers and their needs
It’s simple, if you don’t understand your customers or their needs, you can’t serve them, you can’t change with them as their needs change, and you can’t serve other customers who are like them. It isn’t enough to assume that you know what your customers need – you must ask them. Having regular communication with your customers not only keeps them informed of what you are doing for them, but can also help you understand how their needs might be changing. You can then adapt how you serve them and grow your business alongside them.

 

5. Protect your resources
Every business has various types of resources they have invested in. From the office equipment and supplies to the employees they have hired, trained, and rely on. These valuable resources must be protected to ensure the overall health and safety of the company. Just as companies pay to have their equipment maintained to avoid any damage, they should take care of their employees to prevent them from leaving.