Your business is doing okay—but it’s not the raving success you were hoping for. There’s no time like the present to look at new ways to bring it back to life.
Below are some tips to help re-ignite your business, and your own enthusiasm.
Try the Zappos way
Zappos infuses customer service into everything they do. In a sea of online competition, CEO Tony Hsieh is driven to “deliver happiness” to both customers and employees.
Tony understands at a deep level that people want to do more than buy—they want to connect. He knows that if he can create a real sense of connection for his customers in every sales experience, he’ll have a customer for life.
He also knows how important a happy work environment is to keep employees committed to the Zappos mission. Tony believes that happiness is part of a “higher purpose” that allows people to become bigger than themselves.
Think about your own business. Are you creating an environment where you’re passionate about every single thing you do? If you have employees, are they passionate about every customer interaction? Have you found ways to connect with customers on more than a transactional level?
Find a partner
You’ve been a lone ranger. You’ve battled the numbers. You’ve wrangled the marketing. How about bringing on a partner?
Certainly, there are risks associated with this. We’ve all heard the horror stories of partners who freeload, or even embezzle. But the great partnership stories far outweigh the bad ones. If you pick the right partner, your business could seriously skyrocket. The right partner will have a skill set that compliments yours; they should be able to do the things that you’re not so good at.
Perhaps you’re amazing at customer relations, but not so good at accounting. Find a partner who loves curling up with a ledger.
Perhaps you have a technical expertise in a breakthrough product, but you’re shy about telling the world about it. Find a partner who has the gift of gab and flourishes in networking meetings, spreading the word about your amazing product.
Behind almost every great company is a partnership. At Apple, Steve Jobs had Steve Wozniak. At Nike, Phil Knight had Bill Bowerman. At Google, Larry Page had Sergey Brin. The right partnership could make your business a real force to be reckoned with.
Write a book
Ugh. What a colossal project to take on. But is it really? Think about brochures you’ve written, emails you’ve sent, talks you’ve delivered, blogs you’ve posted. Odds are you’ve got a lot of content lying around.
Pick a theme—something you know you’re really good at. Now break that theme into ten sections, and ta-da! You’ve got your chapters.
What’s your biggest business challenge right now?
In the old days, finding a publisher could make or break your book-writing quest. But now self-publishing options abound. A book suddenly makes you an expert, and builds your credibility as a thought leader on a given subject. You can share it with customers. You can send it to prospects.
Chip Conley was the CEO of Joie de Vivre Hotels, one of the world’s largest boutique hotel chains. But times weren’t always so great for Chip. He radically over-expanded right before the first dot.com bust, and he faced economic ruin for himself and his hotel chain.
What did he do? He wrote his first book. In “Peak,” Chip wrote about the power of applying Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to business principles. He took a deep dive into his own business triumphs and mistakes to talk about the “relationship truths” with employees, customers, and investors.
Not only did this book help save the Joie de Vivre hotel chain, it catapulted Chip into the thought leader stratosphere. As the current Head of Global Hospitality and Strategy at Airbnb, Chip is one of the most sought-after business experts in the world.
Turn your service into a product
You do great work. Your clients appreciate you. But you’re caught in a cycle. You can only make as much money as hours in the day permit. You’ve been on the bill-by-the-hour treadmill for a while. Maybe it’s time to put that expertise into a product. Something that could actually make you money while you sleep.
In this era of user-friendly technology, it’s not so hard to take those hard-earned skills you’ve honed over the years and turn them into a product that will resonate with the marketplace.
If you’re a wellness consultant, you could create a deck of cards that give daily wellness tips, and sell them on an eCommerce site. If you’re a mechanic, you could create an online course that shows how to change your oil and other basic mechanics.
If you look at the big winners in the internet marketplace, a lot of them have applied hourly expertise to technology to earn a very pretty penny.
Take Salesforce: Their product is based on a keen understanding of customer sales and how to track all of the interactions that lead to a sale. This understanding all stemmed from CEO Marc Benioff’s 13 years of selling products for Oracle.
In other words, he bundled his hourly experience into a product to launch a multi-billion dollar company.
Explore some blue ocean
In 2005, Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne published a book called “Blue Ocean Strategy.” In this book, the authors show how real winners in the marketplace get out of the “red ocean,” where competitors are battling it out selling the same products and services and trying to do it better, faster, cheaper.
According to the authors, the real winners explore “blue oceans,” outputting entirely new products and services. To get into blue oceans, a business needs to stop doing something that’s expected and start doing something entirely unexpected.
Getting into a blue ocean is easier than it sounds. If you run a coffee shop, you could do away with the standard coffee tables scattered across the shop and create a large community table. Perhaps you could serve something radically different—like bourbon Old-Fashioned at happy hour.
So if you’re feeling stuck in a rut, be daring. Try something bold. The path to business success is never easy, but it can sure be exhilarating if you embrace your adventurous side. Strap on your entrepreneurial seat belt, and get ready for greatness!