How to Get Your Small Business Out of a Rut on Groundhog Day

Take a lesson from Phil Connors, and quit making the same mistakes over and over, day after day.
groundhog day movie
Getting your small business out can be a real challenge, just like Bill Murray's character in the 1993 classic 'Groundhog Day.' (Photo: Columbia Pictures)

Do you feel like you’re constantly making the same mistakes over and over in your small business — like Bill Murray’s character in the classic movie “Groundhog Day”?

In the 1993 classic, Murray plays an egotistical weatherman (Phil Connors) sent on assignment to cover Groundhog Day festivities in the small town of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Throughout the film, Connors is forced to relive his least-favorite day (Feb. 1) over and over again, struggling to break the chain and escape a seemingly hopeless situation.

When your business is in a rut, getting out can be a real challenge. Turn the tide with these tips for breaking free of the cycle and bringing positive change to your small business.

Try a new perspective

What’s the best way to get out of a rut? According to leadership expert and learning consultant Kevin Eikenberry, it’s to look at the situation through a new set of eyes.

In the movie, Connors is finally able to escape his daily déjà vu only when he changes his perspective and starts focusing on others rather than himself.

“If you keep doing the same things, you will definitely keep getting the same results,” said Eikenberry. “Think about the ruts or routines you are looking at for yourself and in your business. Change your view from making it about yourself to making it about your employees or customers, and see if that change of perspective will help you change your routine — and your results.”

Learn to delegate

delegating

Trying to do everything yourself takes you away from important strategic tasks. Share the load by delegating more work to employees or outsourcing to a freelancer. (Photo: Inspiring/Shutterstock)

One of the top ways business owners get into a rut is by trying to do too much themselves, said Jeff White, financial analyst for Fit Small Business. Whether you’re wanting to maintain control over every aspect of your business or simply can’t afford the help you need, doing everything yourself takes your focus away from the strategy and relationship building required for a successful business.

“They’re spreading themselves thin trying to just accomplish the daily tasks in order to get by,” he said. “It would be in these small business owners’ best interests to consider outsourcing some low-level tasks to freelancers or virtual assistants. This is much less expensive than hiring a full-time employee, and you only have to hire for the amount of hours you need to alleviate some of the pressure on yourself.”

Refresh your look

“If business has generally been good, revenues are stable and staff turnover is low, it’s easy to fall into a false sense of security and just go through the motions,” said Rodger Roeser, business consultant and CEO of The Eisen Agency.

When things are going well for your company, it’s easy to stick with the status quo. But if you want your business to grow and attract new customers, you’ve got to keep things fresh.

“One big rut many small businesses get stuck in is a failure to keep their front of house look fresh and up to date, and that includes things like the look of the menu, signage and yes, even your website,” he said. “These should be evaluated at the very least annually… Talk with an experiential branding expert that can liven up the room and tie that look into a brand narrative that permeates throughout the look of your menu and your website. You don’t want those things to ‘go stale’ and in business, that’s exactly what happens.”

Experiment with new marketing tactics

try something new street sign

If you keep doing the same things, you’ll keep getting the same results. Don’t be afraid to try new, innovative ways to connect with your target customers. (Photo: Rawpixel/Shutterstock)

While you’re refreshing your restaurant or storefront, also think through what may need to change in your marketing strategy, suggested White.

“Some businesses aren’t growing their sales because their marketing has become stale. They’ve picked off all the low-hanging fruit within their immediate market and now are struggling to convert new customers,” he said.

To get over the hump, think outside your own box for new, innovative ways to market to your target customers.

“Too many small businesses are afraid to mess with what has worked in the past that they don’t try to do anything new, and the rut continues until [declining] sales start to disrupt their business’s sustainability.”

Make social media a priority

Another rut small business owners commonly face is procrastination around social media, said Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, founder of Retail Minded and author of “Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business.”

“Too often merchants create a to-do list but never actually get their tasks done. Among the missed responsibilities on their lists is social media, which I hear time and time again from retailers that it’s just so hard to keep up with,” she said.

Her advice: have your employees assist with social media responsibilities.

“When making your staff schedule, also identify who is responsible for social media on each day. If you have a clear schedule identifying who is responsible for this task, you can rest-assured it will get done. And since social media is a key factor in the journey to purchase for today’s modern consumer, don’t let this once again slip away from your to-do list.”

So don’t lose sight of the goal and settle for complacency in your small business. Get out of whatever rut you are in and avoid experiencing a “Groundhog” type of day.

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