The first car I ever purchased on my own had a manual transmission. I had learned to drive in an automatic transmission vehicle, so driving my new car was quite a challenge. I didn’t know how to balance just the right amount of pressure on the gas pedal while simultaneously releasing the clutch without stalling out the engine. That first week of driving it was terrible, but eventually I got the hang of it. I learned how to listen to the sound of the engine and instinctively shift gears at the right moment.
Starting a new business is a lot like driving a manual transmission car. You have to learn how to balance your business activities so that you maximize your businesses potential. Somewhere along the line it becomes like second nature to us and we unconsciously trade in our stick shift for an automatic. We get comfortable and no longer actively think about certain aspects of our business. Operating on autopilot is very dangerous for a business.
Discerning when it’s time to shift is one of the most important aspects of business strategy. Not making the necessary adjustments in a timely manner can destroy your business. If you don’t believe me, just take a look at what happened to Blockbuster Videos or Border’s Bookstores. So what do you do when what has always worked doesn’t work any longer or just isn’t as effective. Here are 3 areas to address when you think it may be time to shift gears.
- Shift your mindset about change.
Change is a constant in the world we live in. Refusing to change your products, services, or business strategy when your market changes leaves your business vulnerable. Incorporate change into the culture of your business by constantly evaluating each aspect your business. On a weekly or at the very least, monthly basis ask yourself and your team the following questions. What worked well last week/month? What didn’t work last week/month? Is there anything that can be improved or enhanced? Doing so can help you to address any issues or concerns before they become systematic.
- Shift with a strategy.
Do your homework. Research your market, industry, and target audience. What innovations are happening in your industry? Use this information to set yourself up to be the go to business for the latest trend. Can you get more specific about your target market? Are you able to paint a picture of your target audience is? Could it be time to freshen up your brand? Adjust your strategic plan to align with your research.
- Shift your focus.
Sometimes what we are doing no longer aligns with who we are. However, we continue down the same path because we worry about what others will think about us. Trying to save face is never a reason to continue down a path that no longer suits you. This only leads to regret, resentment and a whole lot of shoulda, coulda, wouldas. There are times when it is in our best interest to walk away and begin anew. This can be extremely scary, but in the end can be very rewarding. Many successful entrepreneurs have sold their businesses or liquidated them to move on to the next venture. Don’t be afraid to completely shift your focus.