5 Tips for Sharpening Your Value Proposition 
During Tough Times

See also: Customer Service Skills

Every business has cycles: it's natural, it's OK, and you're not alone. Some businesses are seasonal, some are operating in a declining industry, some in a business environment that has shifted dramatically, and some are fighting through a highly competitive landscape on a day to day basis.

When the tough times come and you are struggling, even finding yourself trying to keep your head above water, you understand that you need to make some changes.

During this fight you have to step up your game, you have to be resourceful. You don't have endless options, budget, time, and energy, so you need to sharpen your value proposition and make the most of your efforts and of every little opportunity that finds its way to you.

So, what's your business value proposition? In one sentence, what is your business all about?

And does this sentence and value proposition correlate with your current reality? Or is there some work to do and adjustments you need to make to suit the current situation?

The key is the value you are giving; that's what this is all about.

Here are our five tips for tightening your business offering and sharpening your value proposition in these difficult times:

1. Learn what your customers need at this point

Before everything else, when business is tough you must focus on the most important things and, obviously, the most crucial point is your customers' satisfaction. Maybe things are not going well because you are not aligned with your current customers' needs. Of course, this change of needs might not have anything to do with you specifically, it might be due to market changes of new technologies or business models, or maybe even the entire economy has changed and you have to re-calculate your approach. Anyhow, you have got to catch up and evolve.

Do you know what your customers are looking for right now? Are they coming to you and getting that? If so (I hope so), why are they coming specifically to you? What triggers them not only to spend money on the products or services in your business niche, but what makes it a must-buy for your customers?

It might take some time to really answer these questions, but once you understand your customers' current motives and needs, you can begin taking things to the next level.

What would make your customers more satisfied?

What would make your customers super happy?

Think big! Now when times are hard you are genuinely open to making some real changes, so why not use this time for not only making your customers satisfied, but also making them true fans of and ambassadors for your brand! Focus on making your customers exhilarated with your product/service.

2. Be honest with yourself

If you're in a bad situation, you know that you have problems. Don't ignore the problems, they won't just go away. Face them today. Even if you've failed miserably and you're just trying to get back on your feet, as soon as you're out there tackling what's needs to be fixed, you are one step closer to your goal.

Again, every business has cycles. There's nothing to be ashamed of. Take control of your situation.

When looking at where your business is currently at, why did things go wrong? What's your responsibility in that?

It's time to be honest, don't sugar coat your reality. If you do so you are hurting yourself. It could be a supplier or an employee who doesn't deliver what you need and you're afraid to lay off, or it could be overspending on prestigious items or services that make you feel good but are way above what you can afford right now.

It's time to clean up the mess and be real with yourself.

You may feel bad facing the truth, even very bad when you truly face all the problems, but you must look forward. These problems are the past; you must focus on learning from these truths and put all of your energy and resources towards building your future.

Learn from your mistakes, DON'T dwell on them, let it go.

3. Understand your current value proposition

At the end of the day it's all about value. How can you contribute more to the world?

Though it's sometimes easy to forget when you are in a tough spot, when you are providing value to people they are more than happy to pay for it. It's easy, especially when it comes to sales. How can you contribute more to the people needing your kind of service or product?

Today, when you know that things are different from how they used to be, if you were your own customer, what would you expect from your business? When you were walking into your store, calling you on the phone, or surfing your site on the web, what were your expectations? What would you be looking to receive?

Put yourself in your customers' shoes: existing and potential ones. How can you provide them with greater value? How can you make their lives better today?

When you are operating from this point of view, of providing greater overall value, you're on the right track to crack your current value proposition and boost your business' recovery.

4. Your purpose: Why did you start this business?

When times are hard you might be thinking 'Why do I need this? For what? I should have kept my old job'. But this is the exact time to remind yourself why did you start your business. Why are you here?

There must be a reason why you've worked so hard to get to where you are now, right? There must be a reason why this business is your dream, your pride, the way of living that you chose for yourself.

Can you connect to those reasons? To those feelings? To those why's?

This deep connection is what will carry you through, this deep connection can help you overcome any obstacle or harsh circumstances that may come. When we talked earlier about resourcefulness, these reasons, feelings, and why's, are a huge part of it. When it's hard you forget how tough your attitude and spirit are, how powerful are your internal resources. Sometimes in hard times you just need a little spark that will lift you up, and this will help you to take action.

Tightening your value proposition and putting your focus on contributing more to your customers is much easier and accurate when you're in a state of inner connection, energy, and potency. Following this tip will significantly improve the quality of every aspect of your business, and especially your future business plans and goals.

5. Plan and strategize big goals

Now that you better understand what needs to be done, it's time to plan.

What most businesses do when they're struggling, is to set their goals on getting out of the crisis, rather than setting a big exciting and profitable goal.

You might be saying 'Listen it's all very nice but what I need is to get out of this hole, now is not the time to be ambitious!'. Well, the fact is that it will be much easier for you to get out of the hole if you give yourself a big exciting goal, instead of just surviving.

If you focus only on paying your bills, you're doing it wrong, because you're not focusing on delivering the most value (to yourself as well) and doing the best job possible. You're focusing only on doing enough to pay the bills. If enough is to get 20 paying customers a day, or land at least two new $5,000 deals this month, then in the best-case scenario that is what you'll achieve. On the other hand, if you put everything you have into getting 40 paying customers, or landing two new $10,000 deals, this will double your revenue. You stretch yourself to achieve something that really excites you, and by doing so you hit the minimum threshold without even noticing.

If you wake up in the morning trying to get the minimum you need, you're not pushing yourself to make your customers super happy and extra satisfied, you're not focusing on providing the most value. When you set a big ambitious goal, it brings out the best in you because it makes you want to achieve it. What's more exciting: getting $2,000 or getting $20,000? For which one will you be willing to wake up an hour early every morning, or to go that extra mile for your customer? For your business?

Further Reading from Skills You Need

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership

The Skills You Need Guide to Leadership eBooks

Learn more about the skills you need to be an effective leader.

Our eBooks are ideal for new and experienced leaders and are full of easy-to-follow practical information to help you to develop your leadership skills.

Nothing happens overnight, it will take time. But eventually, even the smallest consistent changes build up to massive results.

Focus on the value, embrace your current situation, and go after the big goal that excites you.

That is the best thing that you can do for your business.

About the Author

Vision, Belief, Change inspires people to live the life they want, through opening their minds to new perspectives and possibilities, and providing them with practical tools for achieving their goals and dreams.