Over the last few years, the high street has changed beyond recognition. And if you're of a similar age to me (I tell people I'm 35, let's leave it there...) then this will have really hit home.
Firstly we lost Woolworths, a stalwart of Saturday morning shopping. Then Blockbuster - a Friday night drop-in for those of us with kids and no social life. And now, most recently, BHS.
When running your own business, and even when not, you tend to think that the only businesses that fail are small. Ones like yours and mine. It never crosses our minds that the Big Guys will. But they do. And they have.
There are, of course, myriad and intricate financial reasons but the one that we all acknowledge is that our buying habits changed - but the business' selling habits didn't.
We bought more product online. More high street competitors popped up, so we checked them out (and bought from them). Technology advances were huge, and we started to download or stream content. Our buying tastes changed.
But the businesses didn't keep up.
There's a lesson here for all of us. If we don't keep in touch with our customers - current and potential - then we don't know what they want. And trust me, your competitors will. So how can you do that? Regular emails, newsletters, conversations (social media or otherwise), surveys, competitions, events - all of these will help you to understand what your customer looks for, how they buy and what influences those decisions.
None of these activities are particularly time consuming but they are important. Have a think about how you could improve or increase your customer interactions, and get learning.
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