The IMF Recently flagged up that the recovery out of recession was not uniform.
There are countries still lagging behind but often politics rather than economics is the reason; Russia and the Middle East are prime examples.
Elsewhere prospects look fairly reasonable and consumer confidence has grown.
Perhaps it is time for small businesses to invest and become more proactive as demand increases?
Most small businesses have new opportunities if they know where to look for them. It may not even involve any major investment which is welcome to those companies that have suffered through the years of recession.
What are the areas that owners should look at to improve their future prospects?
Is there scope for diversification?
Many international brands laid the foundations for their success in a particular range of products.
They then diversified into products that they realized sat particularly well with the ones that established them as successful companies.
There are numerous examples. Sports equipment companies that have established a strong brand often branch out into clothing and footwear using the strength of the brand name to establish their new markets.
Fashion companies who made their names on the back of their clothing designs have regularly expanded to add accessories to their ranges, everything from perfumes to jewelry.
You should ask yourself whether you have a similar opportunity in your sector.
You may indeed make very few changes to your present range. Sometimes consumer demand for a closely associated product is a signal to try to get a portion of the action.
Where are the dissatisfied customers?
It is worth knowing more about your market. You may have satisfied customers but within your sector there may be people who have posted negative things about yourself and your competitors online.
Negative comments can be very damaging particularly if they spread quickly through the social media.
You should talk to people who have been unhappy with your goods and services as well as those who have said negative things about your competitors.
People will appreciate your making such approaches and it may teach you lessons that you can take into account in the future.
Talk to the happy ones
It is just as important to talk to those people that have had a positive experience. It may be that your business is specialized and consumers that have a particular interest in your sector have something to contribute.
Innovation does not always come from a research and development department.
Ides from people using technology and equipment every day may reveal something that you have never considered.
Real feedback can be very useful and you should attempt to do more than simply ask people to fill in a questionnaire. Follow up on anyone that shows signs of imagination and a real interest in your products and services.
Similarly you should invite input from other people that may have knowledge of your market.
It is very unlikely that your competitors would like to help but there are people who write and blog on every subject imaginable.
Perhaps you should invite a few to contribute to a blog that you launch and see where the ‘conversation’.
It is important to realize the strength of the Internet and the value of building up an audience that regularly looks at what you are saying and what you are producing.
If you become a perceived authority in your sector your business will grow.
The opportunity is certainly there. Remember that the Internet is several years older than it was when recession hit.
If you need experts to guide you on how best to use it, ask the search engines for more information. Then act on it. Your competition might.
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