Bridging the Gap Between Now and the Future
There comes a time (and it keeps coming) when you realize that what you have right now is just not enough. Your skillsets, your services, your people...it’s all just not enough. Orders are not coming in at the pace you want, or the kind of orders you want are just not showing up.
There could be a lot of reasons for that—the economy, bad project management, bad luck, bad hires, running out of cash. One can come up with any number of reasons, or excuses.
But when you hit that snag, the smartest thing to do is look within. No, not be judgemental about ourselves (ladies, we do that to ourselves all the time, so give it a break). But realistically assess where your business stands. You could look at a series of questions to help you through this:
1) What do you offer now?
2) Is it really needed by the market? Truly, deeply needed by the market? Does the customer who you think can benefit from your product/service truly need it? Can he or she do without it? Can she find a cheaper alternative, which may or may not be better, but gets some part of the job done?
3) What will make the customer consider you instead of that alternative?
4) How much more will she be willing to pay?
5) Do you need to add another product/service to the existing portfolio, so that it starts making sense to the customer? Starts creating more value for her?
6) Can you use tech to simplify the offering?
7) Do you really have a clear differentiator which makes you stand apart from competition, and alternatives?
When you start answering these questions, you might realize that your offering is not what the market needs currently, or that you need to now add more services. You could also speak to a mentor, who can dispassionately view your business and help you identify what is working for your business, and what isn’t. When I hit that snag for the first time, I joined up for a year-long entrepreneurship course run by CIAM. And that helped me see things in black and white, and not some illusive shades of, well, grey!
Such questioning will help you identify where you stand today, and where you need to go. And now that you know the gap you are up against, you know exactly what needs to be done. It will need work, learning, coaching, hiring new skillsets, partnerships, mergers, trials, failures, before you figure out your optimal ways of closing the gap. But persevere, and soon the gap will no longer exist.
More importantly, you would have understood the needs of the market better and you would have learnt to keep a tab on how the market moves, and how it’s likely to move in the future. And so instead of hitting the same snag again, you would have proactively created products/services for the new market requirements.