Are You Having a Business Identity Crisis?

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When rethinking your business model, different roadblocks spring up along the journey. One that nearly always happens is the business identity crisis: What is my business, and where is it going?

It feels as if you’re starting out all over again with incredibly basic questions. Darn! Again? Didn’t you do this at the very beginning of your business?

Sometimes it feels like you’re sliding backwards toward square one. Don’t worry, you’re not.

It can be frustrating when you are trying to transform your business to have to question your entire business model all over again. Truly — it’s necessary, and a wise move for any seasoned business owner. I see it as a great opportunity during your business reinvention process to pause and re-examine The Nine Big Questions.

Here’s an exercise in big-picture thinking for you and your business:

  1. What do you want from your business: emotionally, financially, intellectually?
  2. What personal values does your business reflect?
  3. Have your personal values changed since the last time you created your business model? If yes, what has to change in your new business model to reflect those new values?
  4. What brand does your business currently have? Do you need to re-brand it?
  5. If you re-brand it, what image/message do you now want to project for your new business model?
  6. Which marketing techniques are working and which ones need to be ditched?
  7. Who do you serve and do you still want to serve this audience?
  8. Who are your best customers? Who are your repeat customers? How can you serve them better?
  9. And the biggest question of all: WHY are you in this business? (Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to get out.)

Don’t Panic

I know that rethinking your business can feel overwhelming. Take a look at these nine questions and pick just one to ponder. Pick a question that calls to you. Trust your intelligence and gut instinct to select a starting place for reinventing your business model.

Business re-design is not just about making decisions and implementing plans. It’s about asking questions, getting clarity and finding focus. You’ll be happy you took the time to ask yourself The Nine Big Questions.

So, how about you? Which Big Question is the one that’s on your mind right now?

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Feeling Like Your Business Needs to Change?

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Something’s in the air!

Everywhere I turn recently, I keep running into seasoned business owners who tell me stories about how they are changing their business model, reinventing the way they do business, modifying the products/services they offer, and shifting who their target audience is.

Some say they’re feeling restless: that they know something is going to change in their business but they’re not clear yet exactly what the new model will look like. They’re exploring all the options to find the new formula that works for them.

Others know exactly the direction they’re moving in and just need to work out an action plan. One colleague said to me, “I’m itching and ready to take action, if only I knew what the right action should be!”

You know your business is morphing. You won’t reinvent it from the ground up, but instead you will take all your knowledge and experience, and redefine your target audience, your offerings, and even your behind-the-scenes business processes.

I see some recurring themes about why people are reinventing their business: they’re ready to go for something bigger, or something that mirrors their lifestyle better. Maybe the economy has hit them, or their industry is changing. I explore the reasons why in this blog post.

Just trust your gut instinct. If you know something isn’t “quite right” with your current business or marketing model, trust your thoughts and feelings on the matter. You may not know exactly where you’re going, but the reinvention journey is a path worth exploring.

I’m interested to hear your comments. Are you reinventing your business, too? Where are you in your thinking about your new biz model?

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Rethinking Your Business
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When a New Business Model Sneaks Up On You

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Claudia didn’t have a “big plan” for reinventing her business. She knew she had outgrown her old business model of working with new mothers as her target audience, and had made the decision to stop actively marketing her business. Then things happened that she couldn’t have foretold.

Recognizing It’s Time to Change

Claudia confides, “I hit a place with my target audience and I never got beyond it. I found that I always had a certain number of clients, which was fine, but it never moved beyond that number of clients. I felt that I needed to go in a different direction.”

“I was kind of banging my head against a wall,” she says. “I started to realize that I wasn’t enjoying writing my ezine anymore, I wasn’t enjoying marketing to new moms. It was hard for me to recognize: I didn’t want it to be true because I had spent so many years doing it and stopping felt like I was failing. The truth was, I wanted to want to do it. I think that if I had been honest with myself, I would have made a switch earlier.”

Claudia recommends that when small business owners feel that something is off, they take a few days and figure out what’s not right. Admitting to yourself that your old business model isn’t working for you anymore is an important first step.

Reinvention from an Unexpected Source

Claudia had tutored teenagers for over a decade, had always had a small number of tutoring clients, and had been teaching a summer class on SAT preparation for several years. Even though she had been tutoring children for quite a while, she didn’t consider this to be a major thrust of her business previously because she wanted to be home with her own child after school hours.

But now that her child is older, and Claudia knew she was unhappy in her old business, she began to close it down and revisit the idea that tutoring could be a viable business model.

“As soon as I closed down my old business,” she says, “In one week, five new tutoring students came to me! It was so bizarre. I suddenly had more students than I knew what to do with. My business just took off.”

Mourning Your Old Business

When you’ve been in business a number of years, you invest a lot of yourself in it. So when you close down your old business completely, you need to be aware of the feelings that can come up.

“I actually felt sad,” says Claudia. “I wish I could say that I was really joyous and happy, but I wasn’t. It felt like a really big loss. I think because it was a business that I put so much into and cared so much about.”

But Claudia has a great philosophy about this business cycle: “People change and I changed. Once I got my mind around that, I realized that it was a really positive thing and once I realized that it was a positive thing, letting my business go was kind of a relief.”

Pausing to Plan

When I asked Claudia, “On a scale of 1 to 10 — one being you’re just starting your tutoring business and ten being that you have a complete new business model — where would you say you are in the arch of building this new business?” she replied, “Four.”

Because Claudia had run a successful business previously, she knows that she needs to design a business model for this new business – for next month and for 10 years from now. She says, “Not only the marketing skills, but the planning and the organizational skills that I learned in my last business, I know I have those assets to take with me in my new business model. Knowing everything I know is going to help me tremendously. I’m actually much better off now than I was when I was starting my life coaching business for new moms!”

So what do you do when your new business comes out of the blue? You step back and take some time to plan the foundation, even as you are conducting the new business work.

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Phases of Your Business Reinvention Journey

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I’d love to be able to tell you that there are set of linear and finite phases that every small business owner goes through while you’re reinventing your business model…

…but if I told you that, it would be a lie.

But there are some well known phases that you might go through, sometimes circling back to one you thought you already finished, and skipping others completely. Here is a short list of some of the signposts you’ll encounter on the road to reinvention:

  • I know/feel something needs to change – You find yourself pausing in the middle of the day (or worse, in the middle of the night) and asking, “Is this the business I want? What’s next for me?” People report feeling restless or frustrated, knowing deep in their heart and mind that the business needs a shake-up, a new way of being in the world.
  • Getting lost in the not-knowingness – This is one of the toughest phases in business reinvention, because you have to be okay with not having the solution. Some spiritual teachers call this not-knowingness “the grace of mystery.” Puts a different spin on it, doesn’t it?
  • Finding clarity on goals – If you spend time tapping into your goals for your business, and for yourself personally, you’ll find that it’s easier in the next phases to explore and choose the right business model for you. Is there a particular problem you need to solve? A particular dream you’d like to achieve? Values you’d like to express into the world?
  • Exploring the possibilities – In this idea-generation phase you explore every aspect of your existing business model, looking for places to add, modify and discard. No idea is sacred and no idea is thrown away. Even the craziest of ideas can be a springboard to a new business model. Creativity and innovative thinking are crucial keys during this phase.
  • Making a road map – This is where you design your new business and marketing model, keeping what still fits from your old model and mixing in the new ideas you’ve generated. This is also where you create your transition plan and map out where and when changes will take place, and what resources you’ll need to make it happen.
  • Taking the journey – Implementing your business model changes can happen in a week or it can be a two-year process, depending on how complex the changes are and how many resources you have at your disposal. This is often a journey through the weeds and can be rough going. Why? Because you have to continue to run your existing business (unless you’re independently wealthy!) while creating your new business at the same time. Managing change can feel like a juggling act, and I’ll talk more about it in future posts.

Where are you on the path to reinventing your business? I’d love to hear your story, so join me in the comments below!

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4 Ways to Transform Your Business Model

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Are you asking, “What’s next for me and my business?” You’re not alone in wanting to reinvent and transform your business.

There is a step-by-step process when re-thinking your business and marketing models. This free Re/vision video tutorial series shows you the path.

Each video is 5 to 10 minutes long and includes handouts and worksheets so you can apply what you are learning to your own business thinking.

Is now the time for you to reinvent your business? These videos step you through the thinking process.

 

 

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