Do you feel like your business has lost momentum or is in a slide that you can’t stop? Not sure what to do? Chances are, your business is in the phase I refer to as Regressing. Last week, I shared the five phases I believe companies find themselves in—what I refer to as the 5 Rs: Regressing, Rebuilding, Restarting, Resuming, and Rocketing. Today, I’d like to talk more about Regressing.
Regressing, verb, movement backward to a previous and especially worse or more primitive state or condition.
This is not a particularly healthy place for a company, yet many businesses find themselves here. The question is, how do you stop sliding down the mountain and get your business back on track?
It would be natural to think that market conditions—especially like some industries have seen in 2020—would cause regression. Yet, it’s my experience that regression is caused more by a failure to recognize changes in the market. In fact, many of the clients I’m working with now, who find themselves regressing, were regressing before the 2020 recession began.
If you’re regressing, it means that the business model and strategy you’ve been using for your market just is not working. So far, in nearly every regressing company I’ve talked to was regressing before this recession. Their growth rates had not been in the 20% to 25% growth range for quite some time. And as for their expectations for growth, well, they had become accustomed to slow or no growth.
For example, one of the clients I’m working with is in the restoration industry, and they have not made money for the last three years. So even though the economy was booming, they were not. And even though there was plenty of business to be had in their market, they were not getting their unfair share of the market. What I found is that they had operational effectiveness issues that were causing their lack of profitability.
Further, a lack of strategy caused them not to stand out, and competitors were winning out. The reality is, they didn’t understand why the adjusters and agents were referring business to their competition and not them. This caused them to have little to no growth.
Asking the Right Questions
Typically there are no swift actions you can take when you’re regressing—you didn’t get into regression overnight, and so you won’t get out of it overnight. But the actions you should take need to be guided by asking the right questions. And by looking at those questions, it points you in new directions.
Am I market-focused, or am I internally focused? What measures and processes do I use to demonstrate I know the customer better than the competition? What is the strategic approach that I’m using to address the right questions? Many look internally at their operations—and don’t get me wrong, operational effectiveness is essential—but it’s not a strategy. Strategy is about choosing a different set of activities and what to do and not to do, relative to everybody else, that creates a unique mix of value in the market. And it usually requires tough trade-offs.
Many of these companies I’ve worked with in the Regressing phase have not done that.
Here are several questions that I frequently ask clients that guide them back on a profitable track:
-When was the last time you shifted your offering to the market? Shifted how you positioned yourself? Shifted and grew your capabilities in ways that propelled you past your competition?
-Are you chasing revenue? Are you pursuing anybody who breathes because you’re desperate for revenue?
-Are you looking at your market and deciding which market segment you want to own?
-Are you using the right messaging to help you stand out when potential buyers evaluate and make their choices? How can you help them see that your company is the best company to solve their needs and wants?
-How long is the list of things you’re not doing, and not willing to do, that your competition is willing to do?
-What have you doubled and tripled up on so that you have a core competency and a capability that is resoundingly better than your competition—that’s more important than those things you said you were not going to do for that market segment?
Yes, some of these questions are tough…they have to be. Your business, goals, and aspirations are at stake. But they will change the way you think and look at the challenges your business is facing—and they will get you on the right track.
Is Your Company Part of the Exception?
As I noted above, the vast majority of regressing companies have been on a long, slippery slope. But a few of you may be part of the exception—a short-term regression. Maybe you’re regressing because the main channels you’ve been in have changed, and now you need to get out of them. If so, you need to start asking yourself, what are the new channels to acquire customers? Or are you regressing because some of your products and services can’t be delivered the way they were in the past, and people are buying an alternative? Are you positioned for that alternative right now as these market forces are causing you to regress short-term?
So regardless of whether you’re the short-term exception or the longer-term norm, you need strategic tools to stop regressing. Having the right tools shifts your questions, and then shifting your questions shifts your perspective. And by shifting your perspective, you have a better chance of competing in the market. And then that’s when you’re on the road to growth and profitability.
I am proud to say that the above customer achieved profitability in 12 months. That profitability puts them in the top quartile of all companies in their industry. They are now executing their roadmap to extraordinary growth.
If you feel like your business is regressing, I want to help! Join me on a FREE 30-MINUTE, NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION where I will ask you more in-depth questions and quickly pinpoint actions you can take to get your business on the path of exponential growth, profitability, and increased cash flow.
Come back next week when I will be discussing another one of the 5 Rs.