Written by Karen D. Swim
I am not a fan of reality shows but I have become addicted to Peter Perfect. In the show, stylist, Peter Ishkans, visits struggling small business owners in the U.S. In the shows that I have watched the businesses are typically family owned, single location retail stores.
Peter assesses the store’s layout, operations and the image and makes over both store and owners. He delivers the verdict in a straightforward but pleasant way. The business owners cringe only a little because it’s so much easier to hear that your business is a disaster when delivered in a non-American accent.
In a recent episode the business owners listed the problems and Peter looked baffled as he asked, “If you knew all this why didn’t you do something about it?” Ouch. So often we really do understand the problems but fail to take the next step of fixing them. Listed below are a few of the common problems I have noted since watching the show.
Unwilling to give up control. Are you so emotionally invested in your business that you view any criticism or suggestion as a personal rejection of you? Many of these business owners had family members who were partners. The family members had good ideas but the primary business owner was unwilling to give up control.
Business lacked a clear image / brand. When customers see your store front or website, is it immediately clear what you offer? What image does your business project? In every episode the business owners had failed to develop a clear brand. It was not the business idea that was bad but its presentation.
Failure to consider your target market. I recently worked with a client on a website redesign as part of an overall re-branding effort. The site did not at all reflect his target market. He knew that the site was not working but when asked about the choices he remarked, “I chose stuff that I like.” The problem however is that the colors and images he liked were completely out of sync with his target market.
No Marketing. Retail shop owners had failed to engage even their local communities. Do not assume that your market knows you exist and will find you. Whether you have a brick and mortar business or virtual store, you must market. If marketing is not your strength hire expert help. Buy consulting time to assess your needs and develop a plan, but do something or your business will die.
You lack a clear image. Are you reflecting confidence in your own business? Have you made the transition from hobbyist to business owner? Does your appearance and demeanor reflect the image you want to project? Step up to your role and own it.
To run a successful business you don’t have to have all the answers but you do need to be willing to seek them out. Technology has made it easier than ever to tap into expert knowledge and resources. With a little help you can move your business to the next level.
Do any of these issues resonate with you? If you’re a business owner what have you done to work through your roadblocks? For non-business owners, what do you wish businesses would do differently or better?