“Running a business is easy”, said no business owner, ever!

Especially on the days when what usually works, suddenly stops working… (Here’s looking at you Facebook ads and your constant changing of things…)

During tough times in business, it feels like there’s not a lot to show for all that hard work….

Despite the fact that none of us launch our business with the expectation that all the hard work is done before we launch. We don’t truly believe that old saying, “build it and they will come”.

We know we will have to work on marketing in order to attract customers and sell stuff. Right?

But that doesn’t make it any easier to bear when the orders don’t start flowing in. Or when our marketing efforts aren’t working. Or when we spend more on advertising than we make back in sales.

The longer this situation goes on, the more anxious we are to see it change. We can get a bit desperate in our marketing efforts. Running deep discount sales. Posting like crazy all over social media. Joining Instagram ‘loops’. Boosting Facebook posts. And consuming as much free advice from all the marketing gurus we can find.

All in the hope that we can turn this bus around and reroute to profits-ville.

But in the process, we lose sight of why we started the business in the first place. It all begins to feel ‘too hard’ and the temptation to chuck it in can creep up on us…

Here’s what to do when it all feels too hard BUT you’re not ready to quit!

Revenue Slow? Here are my 4 steps to recovery & growth

Step 1: Reconnect with what brings you joy

There’s a quote I’ve come across a few times over the years that says, “Success follows happiness, not the other way around”.

Yet, many times as ambitious entrepreneurs, we tell ourselves “I’ll be happy when…I achieve X, Y, Z”.

I’ll be happy when I hit this revenue goal.

I’ll be happy when I no longer need to (insert whichever jobs you really dislike doing).

I’ll be happy when my sales are more consistent and reliable.

I’ll be happy when….

The problem is, when we place our happiness in the hands of some future event, we’re  essentially making our happiness someone or something else’s responsibility.

That’s really risky. Because so much happens that we can’t predict or control, and *poof* there goes our happiness.

Instead, we need to find ways to reconnect with the things that do bring us joy. Take responsibility for our own happiness first, and then approach our business from that state of mind and emotion.

I can guarantee you, that the energy that you bring to your work will be completely different if you approach it with a positive state of mind.

For me: I enjoy a quiet cup of coffee (by myself) every morning, and in the evening I enjoy reading novels. I spend time with my family at the dinner table. I go for a walk.

If I do these simple things daily, I make sure I “fill my own cup” first to make sure I have energy and positivity to bring to my team and my clients and customers.

Step 2: What’s working and what’s not

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of feeling like we “must do all the marketing things” in order to be successful.

We must post 5x a day on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, TikTok. (What did I miss?)

We must create beautiful graphics and have the perfect hashtag strategy.

We must be creating videos. Videos are, like, totally hot right now, right?

We must do markets. Collaborate with other business owners. Find 10 brand reps. Run a competition. Write more blogs. Advertise on Facebook. Email our list each week. Find new retail stockists. Blah Blah Blah.

It’s endless isn’t it?

Don’t. Just stop.

First, take a big deep breath.

Then, it’s time to work out what ACTUALLY works. For you.

Remind yourself of your ‘why’.

Why did you start your business in the first place? Can you think about what your 3 year vision for your business looks like? What sort of impact are you trying to create for your customers?

Write that down.

Then think, has that vision somehow gotten lost along the way?

Take a good look at your business, your website, your content, your marketing, and your products.

Does it all support your vision? Can your customers see that? Or has it morphed into a desperate sales and marketing attempt to sell stuff?

Acknowledge the brutal facts

Head to your website analytics (platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce have fantastic in-built analytics), or look at your Google Analytics.

Find the answers to these questions:

  • Where is the majority of your website traffic coming from? Google? Email? Social media?
  • What specific marketing efforts have generated the most traffic and sales?
  • What are they buying?
  • How much are they spending per transaction?
  • Where are they leaving your website (Home page? Add to cart page? Checkout?)

When you have your answers, take a good look at the marketing efforts you’ve been doing. Does spending all that time trying to master Instagram Reels actually result in sales? If not, ditch the activity.

You need to hone in on what’s working and lose the rest. Life’s too short.

Then, work out where the holes are in your website. If you’re losing people at the checkout, have a think about what’s causing them to jump ship (shipping too expensive? some other perceived risk?) and make sure you get an abandoned cart email in place. And so on and so forth.

Be brave and be ruthless here!

As the saying goes, you can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge…

Plan your next best steps

In my Business Planner book, which is designed specifically for eCommerce business owners, I talk about a Growth Strategy matrix.

There are four types of strategy you can choose:

  1. Sell new products to new customers
  2. Sell more of your existing products to new customers
  3. Sell new products to your existing customers
  4. Sell more of your existing products to your existing customers customers

To grow, you need both new customers and repeat customers.

But lately, I’m seeing a lot of businesses stop spending money on acquiring new customers and just try and get by on selling more to their existing customers.

This works fine for a while, but then your existing customer base burns out and stops responding…

So you gotta start investing again in building brand visibility, generating consumer demand for your stuff, and THEN focusing on converting new customers.

Step 3: Chunk it down and focus

A few years ago, I started training with a personal trainer, learning how to lift weights for the first time in my life.

Previously I hadn’t exercised consistently for a few years. Between running a busy business and parenting, I just never really made the time.

But with a major birthday looming, and getting sick and tired of not having the energy to keep up with my kids, I finally decided enough is enough. Time to get fit.

It is bloody hard and it hurts. A lot. (She writes as she hobbles around the office with sore glutes and hammies…)

Frankly, there are so many other places I’d rather be than sweating it up in the gym.

There are many times when lifting another weight or doing another push-up has just seemed too hard.

Not to mention, when I look in the mirror I don’t look any different. This getting fit business takes forEVER!

But you know what? With the help of my trainer, I was able to keep my eye on my goal and chunk the tasks down to what I had to do right there and then.

What am I doing right now? What is my next step?

Without letting my mind run ahead, worrying about what I had to do later or trying to muster the energy to ‘do it all at once’.

And then I focused all my attention on effort on doing just the next right/best task in front of me.

And it’s exactly the same in business.

You don’t need to try and do it all. You just need to work out ‘what’s next’.

What is the immediate next step I need to take to move my business forwards?

Then, what are the series of ‘next steps’ you need to take to reach your end goal and realise your vision?

Step 4: Get some expert eyes on your biz

Just like I need my personal trainer right now to show me what to do to get fit and strong, to correct my technique and to encourage me to keep going, you may very well need that person too. For your business.

Getting the eyes of someone who has experience and qualifications relevant to your endeavour can massively accelerate your path to success. Take advantage of their experience across many different businesses.

If you are searching for that someone to push you through the tough spots, to guide and course-correct you and correct your technique along the way to ensure you are doing the best you can, it may be time to get a coach.

This is a great time to check out our Coaching programs for eCommerce brands. I’ve created this so my team and I can push you along, guide you, correct your technique and help you to just keep growing.

I personally know what it is like to hit a tough spot in your business and how hard it can seem to move forward. But know it is a whole lot easier with someone in your corner helping you to navigate a rough spot faster AND with far less pain!

Click here to find out about working with Catherine Langman

Updated: 1 April 2024

Revenue Slow? Here are my 4 steps to recovery & growth