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When your business matures, what next?

A business needn’t be old to be classed as ‘mature’. It could have reached a sales plateau in a short space of time.

A mature business is defined as one that has passed the stage of rapid growth, and tends to grow at the same rate as the economy. There is little room for expansion, only by stealing a greater share of the market from the competition. Price pressure exerts significant influence on the future success and profitability of the business.

Is this where your business is right now?

If so, it’s a dangerous place to be if complacency is at the heart of its management – think of old stalwarts like C&A, Woolworths and even Rover cars – disaster can strike if your competitors are acting smarter and more efficiently than you are.

So, what next?

The trick is to be ahead of the game, embrace new technology, pre-empt how customers demands change, and continue to give them what they’re looking for in terms of price, product and place. Very few businesses survive without reinvention along the way.

Think about McDonalds. They suffered a back-lash against fast food and were forced to offer fresh salads and revamp their image. And who’d have thought that Top of the Pops would ever be taken off the air! Times do change, what’s important is to make sure you’re not left behind.

Put your energies into business development to shape the future of your company and secure its continued success.

And here’s where to start

Carry out a traditional SWOT analysis – what are your threats and weaknesses – how real are they and what can you do to deal with them?

Specifically look at:

  • The product lifecycle of your product or service – does it have longevity, does it need to change to meet changing customer tastes and demands?
  • Pricing – can you compete on price with the competition?
  • Customer service – are your customers rewarded for loyalty, or could they be easily poached?
  • Competitive activity – are your competitors following an aggressive pricing or marketing strategy?
  • Delivery channels – are they robust or under threat themselves?
  • Market forces – is the economy threatening the ability of your customers to spend money with you?

There’s more, but I think you get the idea.

And your strengths and opportunities – can you exploit these to give your business a stronger foundation?

Specifically, look at:

  • Product development – additional features/benefits
  • New product launch – don’t have all your eggs in one basket
  • New markets – domestic and international
  • Innovative pricing, delivery, routes to market, not used by the competition
  • Acquisition or merger
  • Customer intelligence – what are they demanding next?
  • What is the competition doing? Could you copy it or do it better?

This is all food for thought, and there’s lots more besides.

And here’s another one:

If you’ve reached the point in your business where you think it’s reached its peak and you don’t have the appetite to take it forward, then you should plan an exit strategy. Don’t be left holding a dead duck. Get out while you can, while the business still has value, and let someone else breathe new life into it.

Whatever option you choose, make sure you don’t choose complacency – it’s the death knell of business!

As ever, it helps to talk about your business with an independent person, to get an objective view of its future prospects, and what can be done to help it continue to prosper.

Just don’t leave it too late!

Coming soon – Dealing with a business in decline – a positive approach to plugging holes in a sinking ship

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