Shake Things Up and Keep Business Stagnation at Bay
Stave off a business slump. Steer clear of a rut by seeking new inspiration with these four approaches.
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Your company has been in business for a while. You've found your groove. You're offering a product or service that people are responding to and sales have been good.
There's just one problem: You're starting to get bored.
Entrepreneurs are known for being super passionate. It's their ability to handle multiple things at a time that serves them well during the DIY startup years. Nonetheless when things at the company begin to stabilize and become consistent you might find yourself looking around for the next big challenge.
Here are five things to do when your business becomes stagnant and you want to shake things up:
1. Survey clients and customers.
Most businesses do this only when they see a slump in sales. Do this anytime that you notice that your company is going through a period of complacency. Customers feel appreciated when you ask for feedback, and you'll likely get ideas for the next direction of your business.
2. Give employees time to innovate.
Google became famous for allowing its employees unstructured time each week to work on side projects and explore if they might become full-fledged Google offerings. The company had no guarantees that the efforts would work or produce a product or offering. Employees got free rein to be creative without worrying that a boss would be monitoring their productivity. Any staffer, ranging from a customer service representative to a virtual assistant, might stumble upon a a business blind spot. This person will love going to work even more when he or she feels like a valued part of the company.
3. Take time off.
Designer Stefan Sagmeister famously closes his design firm once every seven years. His entire staff takes off a full year. He understands that sabbaticals provide a way for recharging so that entrepreneurs can develop their next big idea.
Maybe everyone at your business can't take off a full year. But a company-wide sabbatical could be held for a week. For this to be a successful experiment, however, be sure to give employees guidelines for approaching this break as unstructured creative time that will contribute to the company's well-being.
4. Connect with people in different industries.
If you run a graphic design firm, partner with a yoga studio. If you're the founder of a craft beer startup, have a set of life coaches talk with people at the enterprise. If you're wondering what the point of this might be, you'll find the point when you allow yourself to be curious about a different set of people than the ones you'd normally interact with. You don't necessarily have to do something with this partnership. But bringing together two groups of people from different industries to talk about what they do is bound to spark some inspiration.
5. Send everyone out of the office.
In this age of limitless Wi-Fi connections, you need not work in the office every day. Whether you're a solopreneur or run a company with office space, find alternatives: Rent a beach house for a week, camp out at a park in beautiful weather or sign up for a desk at a co-working space. Being in a different environment will ignite new ideas, refresh the team or prompt you to interact with different people.
When you create a company culture that embraces thinking differently, this belief permeates into every position within the business. Most of the ideas don't cost a thing and could be easily implemented with some advance planning. When you take the time to pay attention to how you and your company innovate, don't stagnate.