Will My Business Suffer a Sophomore Slump?

One of the more common concerns for small business owners in their second or third year is keeping their regular customers and continuing to grow.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) says that around 70% of businesses survive for two years, but only 50% survive past their five-year marks. The likely cause for that steep drop is that the failed businesses didn't keep on growing past that initial "newness" phase.

While this thought may be a source of stress for you, there are some things you can do to ensure your business keeps growing and thriving for years to come.

Define Your Customers

Analyzing your customer base is key to effectively marketing to them -- and keeping them coming back. Your marketing, retail policies, and products should all be based on who your customers are. You'll run your business a lot differently if you're dealing mostly with young adults than if your customer base is mostly made up of middle-aged women, for example.

On that note...

Connect With Your Customers

Forming a real, personal connection with your customers is a great way to make them feel valued -- and keep them coming back to your business again and again. Make sure your staff is well trained, and make it clear how you want them to treat your customers.

You can also form a connection by being active on social media sites, answering customer questions and sharing useful, helpful information. This is a great way to get people to view you as a leader in your field, and keeps your name in front of them so they'll think of you next time they're in the market for your product.

Keep Re-Defining Your Product

Your product or service may not need to be replaced for several years, which means your customers won't have reason to re-visit your store...unless you keep updating and re-defining your product to meet customers' needs. You can create add-ons for the product, add new products that work alongside the old ones, or just come up with new product lines to cater to your changing customer base.

You'll want to be careful not to stray too far from your business model and brand, but a little tweaking of your products can help keep them fresh. This can keep your existing customers coming back to check out what's new, and will help attract new customers.

Keep Learning from What Works and What Doesn't

If you have a successful product, analyze what you did to make it so attractive to customers. Similarly, look at failed ideas as learning experiences, so you can keep adjusting your products and marketing strategy to bring more successes -- and avoid more failures.

There are many other tactics you can use to keep your business fresh and keep building your customer base. Customer loyalty programs such as special deals for frequent customers, loyalty cards, and customer case studies are some other great methods to look into.

Whichever methods you choose, the key is to not let your business get stagnant.

While it's tempting to keep running your business the way it's always worked, pushing out of your comfort zone and re-imagining your company every now and then will help you keep up with an ever-changing marketplace.

About the author

Freelance blogger Angie Mansfield covers a variety of subjects for small business owners. From business growth to marketing to management, her work will give you tips to keep your business running smoothly.


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