Retailers can try some tips to offset Internet sales losses

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 8 2013 9:54 a.m. MST

1. Stay with your business until the bitter end; then retire. Hopefully you have been wise and will have saved enough money to live a comfortable life, including even buying a fifth-wheeler or taking a cruise. You deserve it. There is no shame in this approach. It’s been the approach of many great business leaders in the past. For employees, be ready to find new employment before the doors close.

2. Develop a sustaining business model. Find and develop unique value-added services that will attract, retain and grow a loyal customer base. Talk to your present customers to learn what might be of interest to them. Or, as Steve Jobs would have done, surprise them with a novel idea they hadn’t even considered. Current employees are also very savvy business people. If I were the shop owner, I would sit in council with them to discover what else might be done to survive and prosper.

3. Prepare to exit your business in the near term. In the process of doing this, find a new business opportunity to pursue. Given that you know how to operate a successful business, find a market niche with sufficient potential customers who will want to buy from you. This approach requires market research and a well-developed business plan.

Once again, I would gather my finest employees to discuss the future and the opportunities they see as attractive. This is the model I hope most small-business owners will take. Proprietors and time-tested employees should work together to launch new businesses and to save and create new jobs. Keep in mind that America needs you to get back in the game as soon as possible. Never forget that there will always be opportunities to establish a new business. So don’t despair and quit. Quitting is not in your nature, nor in the hearts of your faithful employees.

As to my retail friend, he has chosen to explore his next business. I salute him, and I salute business owners everywhere who already have done or are planning to do the same. What has been your own experience about the current options small-business owners must face? As always, I welcome your ideas and thoughts. You can reach out to me here, via @AskAlanEHall, or at www.AlanEHall.com.

Alan E. Hall is a co-founding managing director of Mercato Partners, a regionally focused growth capital investment firm. He founded Grow Utah Ventures, is the founder of MarketStar Corp. and is chairman of the Utah Technology Council.

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