Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Aging businesses

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     Businesses age. They grow like children. That baby you started out with is beginning to show a personality of its own. 

     The thing that your business reflects is the marketplace. Don't ever forget this. It is the market for your goods and services that determines the face of your business. 

     You can start a business doing just about anything. You take an interest of yours and you build a business around it. But the marketplace will determine how it succeeds, how it grows, and how long it lasts.

     Example: A farm in my area has been operating as a family business since the 1740s. Same family, same piece of land. But the farming has gone through many changes over the years. The original farm changed many times, becoming a large producer of apples and peaches as the 1800s turned into the 1900s. Since then, it has changed again. Today the farm is a large producer of boxwood and other ornamental shrubs. Sales are to several well-known arboretums, garden centers, landscapers and homeowners. It's still the same piece of the earth and it's still run by the descendants of the original family. But the changing marketplace determined its survival. This family never forgot that farming is a business. 

     To keep your business alive and well means keeping a sharp eye on the marketplace. You might be building for a nice little income for yourself. Or, you might be aiming for a bigger operation that your kids will take over. Either way, you must be alert to changes in the marketplace. 

     Example: A consignment shop in my area was established over 75 years ago. It's big and it's almost an institution in itself. The specialty here is vintage and antique clothing. Customers are party goers, actors and production companies, teenagers, and others. There are also racks of more recent clothing. In recent years the owner noticed a developing market for currently fashionable women's clothing. Customers were business women looking to extend their wardrobes. They could get name brands, gently used and at steep discounts off the original prices. They could wear the outfits a couple of times, return them and select others. The owner decided to open a sister shop in an upscale neighborhood. She now reaches out on Facebook to her growing list of customers with pictures of items new to the store. The sister shop is very successful, filling a niche market. And the original store still serves its target market. 

     Growing your business means staying on top of the ever-changing marketplace. 

     Don't get in a rut in running your business. The market is continually changing. Stay on top of what's going on. Re-direct your business with the changing times.