ENTREPRENEURSHIP / JUN. 15, 2014
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How to Thrive in a Struggling Industry

Every industry business cycle has its slump season. While some slump seasons last for a few months, others tend to extend for years thus leading to struggling industries. A good example of a struggling industry in broad sense is the manufacturing sector. Ever since China emerged as a leading source of imports worldwide, local manufacturers in many countries have been closing down. However, despite this 'China effect', some businesses have managed to overcome the slump and prosper amid an avalanche of economic challenges. Which begs the question, how does one thrive in a struggling industry?

#1 Think Beyond Borders
Has your business been solely focusing on solidifying its presence locally to much disappointment? Do you feel like your product value is under-appreciated locally? Has the local market proven to be insufficient to sustain your business? Then it's about time you tasted foreign waters. For instance, strong online presence might be a great start since you can market your products via on line retail stores. If a country proves to be exceptionally promising, then it would be wise to open a branch there or move your business altogether. As the saying goes (for some of us), 'A Prophet is not accepted in his/her own home.'

#2 Be a Consistent Trend Setter
A good way to become an established trend setter in a struggling industry is to come up with a product and patent it way before people realise that they need it. This product has got to strike a balance between current modern trends and future prospective needs. The product should also command a strong appeal to your target market and should be convincing enough to execute impressive sales.

#3 Redefine your Brand
Your brand might be a constant reminder of the consistent failures experienced by your loyal customers. On the other hand, your brand might actually seem old-fashioned altogether especially if your market commands a strong youth presence. And to be honest, a struggling industry needs a new boost of energy especially if you're trying to pull off the next 'big thing'. With this in mind, it would be really wise to consult an informed marketing company with wealth of experience regarding the trends of your industry.

#4 Offer a convincing Incentive to Consumers
There are countless ways that one can come up with a significant incentive that would be an eye turner for prospective consumers in retail stores. Discounts are a very effective incentive to begin with considering the high cost of living. In fact, more discounts should be offered to clients purchasing larger consignments of your product. Another effective incentive is a complimentary product offer if one buys your product. Then there is the competitive aspect whereby the purchase of your product enters the consumer into a competition with a very impressive prize at the end of the road. Whichever the case may be, it's up to you to become creative with incentives to improve on sales.

#5 Have a Concrete Back-up Plan in case of an Imminent Crisis
A struggling Industry has little to no guarantees of success. In fact, there are struggling industries that call for a 'daredevil instinct' considering the myriad of challenges hindering business success. You'll therefore need a 'Plan B' that will shield you from the disastrous effects of an imminent crisis. Financial implications are likely to be experienced in terms of consistent losses and that's where an insurance package would come in handy. The optimistic aspect business crisis is that competition might significantly reduce thus leading to more profits during business peaks. It's therefore wise to have a concrete back-up plan so as not to quit too soon.

#6 Brace yourself Psychologically
A struggling industry will definitely come with a myriad of disappointments. This will definitely have a downside effect on you psychologically leading to depression and stress-related illnesses. It's therefore really important to stay strong, positive and brace yourself for disappointments. In fact, a feeling of indifference would be the best attitude in times of crisis to avoid making any rash, desperate and potentially disastrous decisions.

#7 Research on Cheaper Inputs
The challenge for most businesses is to use cheaper inputs without compromising on product quality. In fact, many have gone as far as following in the footsteps of the 'China effect' in a bid to significantly reduce production costs. However, this can be quite risky particularly if your target market places keen emphasis on product input quality. Some products have actually been totally been banned in some countries altogether. In the end, whichever your choice may be, you should consider the long term implications of such measures on your business image and integrity as a whole.

#8 Diversify
This is where product creativity comes in. Diversification can be in terms of creating complimentary products or coming up with a new product. The challenge however is to produce new products without increasing costs of inputs. Recycling of product waste has been proven to be a very cost-effective diversification mechanism because it not only creates a resource, but it also becomes a new source of income altogether. Ultimately, diversification should serve as a tool for preserving the struggling industry.

Many have stuck to struggling industries despite imminent collapse. In fact, some have gone as far as investing more in such industries. Their driving force has always been passion. The many  who are merely there for the money will always scamper, but the few who remain end up being the leading innovators in their respective industries. As Robin Sharma once said, "Heroism is made during hard times. Not during easy ones."

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