How do you know when your business is successful? You can easily make it a numbers game; a matter of profit, volume of sales or quantity of clients. All too often we get caught up in day to day operations. We forget to take a step back to see how we are ‘measuring up’.
Primary market research provides first hand information from current clients contacts. Don’t be afraid to say, “I am looking at expanding my business and am talking to my customers to find out….” or “We have recently decided to … and would like your feedback”.
Secondary research assists in providing the big picture – industry trends and market indicators. Use trade journals, the internet, professional associations and colleagues. The research library or local business development centre can provide great resources.
How well do you know your competitors? Who are they? What is their message and how is it delivered? How do they brand themselves? What they are doing on the internet? Call them for information and see what you receive, how they respond to your enquiry and their pricing strategy. Benchmark yourself against at least two competitors that are considered leaders in your field– companies mentioned in passing conversation who have innovative products or services.
Have you conducted a self assessment? What feedback do you receive from your clients? We learn from our mistakes more than we do our successes so don’t be afraid of the truth. Do you see any trends that may lead to new or improved services? Are your clients coming from the internet, referrals or you own promotional activity?
Periodically conduct surveys or send questionnaires. There are great tools available that can give accurate results at reasonable prices. Consider coordinating a focus group. Always ask new or potential clients “How did you hear about us?” If you advertise or run a promotion ask, “Where did you hear about us?” If you have a web site do you have the technology in place to know the number of visits or page per views?
Measurement of a successful business can be subjective or not about business in the least. At one end of the ‘scale’ some may measure themselves by asking “Am I earning enough to pay the bills”? Others find success in knowing they have their health, are surrounded by loving individuals with a business that is only a means to an end. Whichever way you perceive it, it is important to measure the investment of your time and money. If you haven’t already measured the success of your business, now may be the right time. If you’ve been thinking now is the time, it probably is!>
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