Well here we are in the first weeks of 2020 and we are seeing reports of major retailers dropping like flies. Nine News reported the closure of up to 170 stores across the country in the first two weeks of 2020. Add to this the fact that, for several us, the “acronyms” are due this month, BAS IAS, PAYG and the list goes on. We are also seeing a drop in discretionary spending across the board. And this comes, all during a crippling drought. It is enough to have some of us pondering our futures and if we actually have one.

So, what do we do when we are faced with seemingly insurmountable adversities?

Obviously, there are factors out there over which we have no control. Those factors cannot be allowed to take over our thoughts. It is so easy to be caught in a downward negative spiral if you become overwhelmed by things out of our control

We need to concentrate 100% on the items that ARE in our control. In times like these we need laser focus on what we do well and more so, where we can improve.

We need to start big.

Is my business, in its current form, still relevant in 2020. If we answer yes, we can move onto step 2 in the flowchart. If the answer is no (and we need to be brutal with ourselves) this is where we need to get started. It may be only a small “pivot” that has us back to where we need to be in 2020. If the change is bigger than that, it still needs to be tackled, and with much haste, to be honest. 2020 isn’t going to wait around for us to catch up.

Time for yourself.

When we move to step 2, we need to look inward. Are we still committed to the business? Do we still have a passion for the business that drags us through the hard times? This is one of the hardest things and needs to be worked on like going to the gym. If the answer is no, it most certainly isn’t the end of the world. Getting ourselves back on track could be something small, like finding a mentor to talk to or looking after ourselves by joining the gym or just taking a moment to ourselves. We just need to find our fit, yoga, meditation, listening to podcasts, walking, mountain bike riding, study, the list is endless. Any of these options could be all we need to clear our heads.

How they see us.

What about how the public sees us? Is your shopfront spotless? Are you carrying as much stock as you can? Are all staff members all trained well, smiling and helpful? Is our website working, up to date and looking pro? Is our social media perfect and relevant to the audience? There are so many things to keep an eye on. Try walking into your shop with fresh eyes, you will not even notice that peeling paint or worn floor covering as you have become blind to it through regularity. Your customers WILL see it.

Is your shop set up perfectly? 

I really enjoy trying to work customer behaviour out. I was in a cafe/restaurant recently (not local) recently. The shop was in a strip of eateries. I was there for about half an hour and noticed that around 60% of the people that walked in looked around and walked straight back out. It had me puzzled, the food was good, service was fine, so what was the problem? Well my two bobs worth is. The counter was too far back from the door, with a slightly dark open area and a post blocking the view to the counter. I firmly believe the customers were getting “lost” and confused when they walked in. This would leave them feeling vulnerable or nervous as they walk in. Not a first impression we need. An instant fix would be for all staff members to warmly and enthusiastically welcome each person through the door. This will make people feel safe and welcome. After that I would move the counter closer to the door.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, you are not alone in that feeling, let me assure you. Sometimes running a small business can feel surprisingly lonely. But there IS help at hand, right here in our amazing town. There are services like Business Leap or the Entrepreneurship Facilitators, there are mentoring programs and of course the local Chamber of Commerce to join. Just remember, you need to take time for you.