Don't go down with the ship!
It has been a year now since my retail business died.
Looking back, I realize I did see the warning signs, that my store was falling ill, but it was so gradual, so… insidious! First it was a slow downturn in my holiday sales over several years. Then a slight reduction in foot traffic. I spent a little more on marketing, advertising, coupons, all the usual stuff to try to turn it around.
I was in heavy denial. I just didn't want to face the reality that my little commercial empire could dry up after so many successful years. I kept thinking that trends would reverse, that this Christmas would be better than last…
Before I knew it, my profit margin was a shadow of its former self. On life support. There was nothing I or Tony Robbins could do.
When I realized that my little commercial enterprise was terminally ill, I was outraged. I would go home from the shop and curse at the dog, the walls, the kids. Internet marketing was like a plague upon the established marketplace, based on face-to-face interaction and instant gratification! How dare they? My customers lured away by free shipping and low prices!
I couldn't compete with these pirates on price. They were selling below my wholesale cost. I couldn't compete with their selection. I can only fit so much merchandise in my supply chain. My suppliers couldn't resist the idea of cutting out the middleman and ship directly to consumers. And the unkindest cut of all?
My customers told me that they LIKE to shop online!
There were a few loyalists around here who grieved the passing of my brick-and-mortar retail business, but not enough to keep me afloat or attract new customers.
Getting mad was getting me nowhere, so I began to think about making deals with my new enemy. "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em (a little bit)," I thought. Up went a new website to promote myself. All the contact information was there, even a map to my stores. I started offering services and other value added products that the internet can't provide. But there were so many providers that got there first, I was at the back of the line.
Depression seeped in like a fog when I did the math and figured out that my brilliant stratagems were only going to stave off the inevitable. I felt lost. Those were dark times, just before my business died. I thought I was good at commerce! Now I found myself astride a defeated dinosaur, slinking into oblivion.Gradually, acceptance of my new reality took hold. I had three options, as I saw things.
- Go down with the ship. Then retire.
- Jump ship. Take my talents to a competitor or do consulting or something that keeps me out of that shark-infested water. Starting a new business is starting to sound appealing.
- Build a new ship with a sustainable business model for the future
We buried my old shops, and honestly no one misses them much. In fact, I'm on my way to the bank to sign for a small business loan, followed by a meeting with an internet marketing expert to integrate an online presence into my new business plan.
I've realized that internet marketing isn't so bad, it’s just different. I’ve become a citizen of a new land, diary, and I’ve got a lot of learning to do.
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