This post has rather a long-winded title but I simply couldn’t reduce it any further without destroying its cadence. It has a three-part melody:
- learn to love
- the rarefied air
- of a business plateau
Simply put, this means that regardless of what kind of business you have – be it a multi-divisional global conglomerate or a solo home-based business – you will hit the occasional plateau. When you hit these plateaus you might find the air to be a bit thin (rarefied) and rather than whine and complain about them, learn to love them…find value in them.
Many types of businesses have hit a plateau this year and last. The economy has not been a friend to either the business person nor the consumer. In many cases business [sales] has been stale or even declined. Let’s say you have a product to sell. Before the recession you may have seen your sales and profit lines going in a steady incline – this is a good thing. Then customers began to disappear; not only did you see less purchases from former steady customers, you saw fewer new customers. In fact, for some, sales hit a plateau – no rise at all. [The only good news in a plateau is if the leveling off happens while the numbers are still in the “black” and the bills can still be paid.]
My older daughter and her husband [and 2-year old] live in Butte County in northern California. Traveling to see them takes you along geographic constructions that illustrate this point very well…from the freeway you can see buttes off in the distance…isolated hills with flat tops [usually] that rise above the surrounding landscape. The countryside is dotted with these plateaus.
Depending upon the heighth of the butte, the air can be pretty thin on the plateau. In financial terms it simply means that sales and profits are not growing and money is pretty sparse…it’s “rarefied air.” The hope is that you will not be stuck on these plateaus too long; the hope is that you will be able to climb again in business growth, in sales and in prosperity.
However. And, this is a BIG however. Learn to love the rarefied air of a business plateau. Here’s what you can do when you are on a plateau – you really can take good advantage of being on the plateau rather than wandering around it aimlessly:
- Use the time to take stock and clean house – purge your data files; take inventory; reuse-recycle-resell; re-visit your dreams and goals
- Use the time to contact your customers – all of them: current, past and prospective…don’t sell to them, simply let them know they are appreciated. Depending upon the type and size of business you have, you may want to know your customers’ birthdays, wedding anniversaries or other dates of importance so that you can send them a card of appreciation…gift your customers with a useful [and I stress useful ] marketing giveaway…attractive mousepad or coffee mug. If you know something about your customers you can gift them personally – example, my little brother collects pens…were he my customer and I came across an interesting pen, I’d get it for him and send it…along with my business card, of course.
- Use the time to study your marketplace...are you sure you are marketing in the right niche for your product or service? Are you truly confident that you know who your customers are and how best to communicate with them? Do you know who your competition is and how the current economy has/is effecting them?
- Update your technology…go back to school. This might be a good time to learn how to use the new software program you installed but haven’t yet used for your business. This might be a good time to write some business articles and or press releases that will help to position yourself as knowledgeable in your niche market.
A business plateau can be seen as a negative – as a downturn in your business and reason to proclaim gloom and doom. Some people never get off the plateau…their business simply goes stale and dies. Remember, your attitude is 90% of your business. If you see a plateau as an opportunity, then when sales pick up…you won’t have to play catch up. In fact, sales will pick up because you’ve been ready and proactively waiting to serve.