At the start of each new year, we tend to focus on how we can do things better.

Although most “resolutions” are personal, as business owners, it is appropriate to also see how our businesses can be improved.

So how did it go last year?

Great, well, or well enough?

Did your sales increase? Did you attract new customers?

If not, perhaps your revenues decreased – while still experiencing increasing costs.

Well, if you are like many in this position, your first impulse may be to tighten your belt and just keep doing what you’ve always done. Of course, always with the hope that things will eventually get better.

Adam Hartung, author of The Phoenix Principle ( uses the term “Defend and Extend” for companies that repeatedly use the same tactics – but expect better results..

Although his focus is on large companies, his main theme is applicable to any business of any size.

Examples of “Defend and Extend” include:

selling the same products (and services) as you have always done
being unable (or unwilling) to adjust to competitive forces
reducing staff and support to save on expenses, but failing to maintain customer satisfaction
The results of this approach is a business that, at best, is merely surviving. At worst, a business that is failing.

So how does this apply to you, the business owner?

Unfortunately, unless you do things DIFFERENTLY and BETTER, things will probably not be improving.

The real question is “How Do I Change My Business From Surviving To Thriving”?

If your business is thriving you are:

1. keeping in contact with your existing customers to make sure that what you offer and how you deliver it are exceeding their expectations

2. offering new or improved products to a growing and diverse customer list, thereby increasing:

and, hopefully, personal satisfaction.
Anything else means that your business is actually dying or, at minimum, on life support.

So, rather than “Defend and Extend” what is no longer working, you need to consider what you business requires to revive its vigor.

The answers, I suggest, are as follows:

1. Having the Right Product

Do you still offer a product (or service) that you know your existing customers want?

Is your formerly innovative product now considered a commodity – and is it, therefore, priced accordingly?

Have you met with your customers to find out what other products or services they would like?

Have you considered amending your product or service (or adding a new product or service) to attract additional customer segments?

2. Revising and Executing you Strategic Plan

Do you provide the same level of service (i.e., not promises) as you did when you started?

Does everyone in your organization know what to do – so that every effort, policy and procedure is geared to provide and deliver “customer satisfaction”?

Does your customer feedback get filtered – before you see it?

Are there any third – party services or software products that could improve the manufacturing/marketing/selling/delivery of your products?

3. Having the Right people in the Right positions

Is everyone in your organization thriving because they are doing what they are best suited to do?

Do you perform Psychometric testing to assure yourself that you, as well as, your employees/partners/associates all have the aptitude and personalities to naturally perform their assigned work?

In conclusion, if all is not well, give some thought to how you can refocus your business from merely surviving to thriving.

Thriving is more fun than failing.

Pass it on!

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