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As a business owner, you are focused on your customers, your operations, and all of the day-to-day challenge that you face. But how often do you take the time to really look at the big picture? How well do you know your market and where it’s headed?

The business landscape is rapidly changing with the constant development of new technologies and products, and business can become obsolete if someone builds something that solves your customers’ problem better than yours does. Your business can also fade into obscurity if the market for your product is shrinking.

It is imperative that you continuously study what is happening in your market. You must understand the trends for your product locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally so you can shape your strategy accordingly. If you know what’s happening in the market early enough, you can take steps to make sure that your business stays viable. So what does your business need to do to mitigate your market risk?

  • Create a culture of continuous innovation. Always look for ways to improve your product or even develop a new version that is superior. The key, however, is to do this based on what your customers need and what they are likely to need in the future. Talk to your customers and potential customers about how well you are solving their problems. You also should constantly be aware of what the competition is doing—both existing competition and potential new competition.
  • Diversify your product line. Consider adding more product lines that meet different needs or the needs of a different market; then if one product becomes obsolete, or the market shifts, you have revenue from other products and can focus your efforts on growing that part of your business. You may even diversify by acquiring another company.
  • Diversify your market. Perhaps you’ve always had a particular market that was your niche, but what if the needs of your niche change? Consider allocating some of your resources to enter new markets.
  • Expand your reach. If you sell locally or regionally, those markets could change because of competition or other factors. Look for opportunities in other areas, even internationally.

The key is to stay ahead of the game—know what’s happening in your market and continuously update your strategic plan. But you don’t have to do it alone. Rely on your professional business advisors, your advisory board, your team members, and your customers to help you. Listen to all perspectives, ask questions, and use all available information to shape your strategy.

Strategic planning is a team effort and a process that never ends. Knowing your market—the people who buy your product and therefore the core of your business—is where your strategy begins.

For more information on the market for your small business, call us at (855) 236-0600.

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