In every business, you’ve got ASSETS. These are productive things that are tangible and intangible, fixed or current. Plus’ that help get you to where you’re going. Here’s some examples:
Rethink what you may consider an asset in the following ways:
- What are some non-conventional assets you may have? (i.e. valuable supportive network of friends that can pick up your kids from school, access to social media influencers, a lot of credit card flight points?)
- What constraint, can become an asset after a small adjustment?
Then, there’s also BOUNDARIES. These may be legal boundaries and restrictions placed on your industry or bylaws of a city. There’s little you can do to change these constraints other than applying for exemptions or lobbying for the change. However, there’s also self-imposed boundaries and these are things we choose not to do or feel that we shouldn’t due to a variety of reasons. Before putting yourself in a box, consider WHY the boundary exist. Ask yourself:
- Is this constraint due to a fear that something bad will happen should I cross this imaginary line?
- Is this constraint a preference of my lifestyle that is limiting the growth or vision of my business?
- Is this constraint in place to protect against scope creep; is this limiting the growth or vision of my business?
- Was this constraint made in the past for a specific purpose? If so, it is relevant today?
It’s always OK to change your mind about the parameters of your business. Indeed, don’t do it too often, but do reassess your boundaries every year or so.
The last thing that can turn your small business around is your NARRATIVE. This may be both personal and professional. What story are you telling your customers / clients? What story are you telling yourself? Is what you’re thinking you’re saying what people are actually hearing? How are you positioning your company?
Consider these 2 different narratives of the same company :
(Company narrative in the perspective of the store owners)
We are not just a product company, but rather a company that builds relationships and happens to sell top tier olive oil. Our hearts are for our community and relationships we have with farmers, suppliers, customers, and employees. We want to love and care for each person that touches our business. And we sell the best olive oil and balsamic vinegars in town. Come see for yourself at our tasting room.
(Company narrative in the perspective of a customer)
The store owners are a hard working couple that sells a large variety of artisanal things. Their store has amazing olive oils and balsamic vinegars, local organic honey, kombucha from the honey farmers, cocktail mixes and bitters, pastas, and olives too. Every time I go to the store, I come away with dozens of ideas on how to use their yummy products. I can even go pick up my weekly veggie box because they are the downtown location. Their products are a treat for when I can afford these luxuries, so most of the time, I just go pick up my veggies.
We see that these 2 stories are similar, but what is lost in the customer’s version is the intentional care and the company owner instills in the customer experience. It also appears that the customer may seldom purchase from the store. What needs to be changed in operations so that the narrative the company wants customer to see will shine through? How can this narrative be more congruent?
All in all, taking time to do an Asset, Boundary and Narrative test on your small business annually may yield dividends in years to come. Find assets you’re not fully utilizing. Extend your boundaries. Ask yourself what you’re trying to convey to customers and see if they are picking it up through a survey.