Years ago, I studied several business “fizzle-outs.” I wondered why some businesses keep growing and others level off and die. I knew the principle, “Unless you keep growing, expanding, and developing, you will level off and die.”

No. 1 – Loss of Identity.

We must go back and ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Who are we as a company?
  2. What are our core values? Identity is inseparable from our company’s vision. So ask more questions:
  3. Can I articulate my company”s vision succinctly?
  4. Do I promote the vision radically and persistently among the staff, employees, sales people, etc.?
  5. Can each of my employees or representatives articulate our vision in just a sentence or two? If the answer is “no” to any of these questions, you may want to start there.

If you answered, “yes” to these questions, then let”s move on to the secondary cause of stalling in business.

When you stop and think about big names you once knew, such as Grant Stores, Montgomery Ward, Yankee, Woolworth Stores, what happened to them?

Some research suggests that at the center of  nearly every case of these giants fizzling  was the fact that they lost their identity.

Dime Stores started carrying furniture and grocery items. If that was their original vision and purpose, okay. But what I’ve read suggests that people in these companies forgot what their mission or vision really was.

Loss of Identity through loss of vision and mission is perhaps the number one cause of great companies fizzling out.

When you ask some people what their vision is, they respond, “Just to make it through this year!”

What’s your vision?

No. 2 – Loss of Focus, or a shift in focus.

As a believer in covenant with God, my focus is not on “making money.” In business, my focus must be on serving customers and clients better than the competition, and constantly thinking about how to help my customers (they are facing tough times too).

What can you do to make your customers or clients say, “Wow, they really care about me”?

The devil is a master at planting problems to get our focus off the things that bring success.

He is relentless in his pursuit to steal our focus. He tries to get our focus on our company and its challenges and off the customers and their challenges.

The Old Spaghetti Restaurant

A case in point is the old spaghetti restaurant I would visit in San Diego in the 1970’s. When the recession was affecting everything, Mr. Ramoni would start giving extra portions to his customers. One time he visited my table and asked if I liked his spaghetti. I told him I loved his spaghetti, and he brought me a free refill with a big smile on his face. The restaurant was packed nightly and Mr. Ramoni did well.

He focus was on his customers, and they were loyal to him for it.

In the late 1980’s, my friend Mark Bender and I were on a business trip to San Diego, and discovered that everything had changed except one thing: That Italian spaghetti house was still in business and the streets were crowded with people trying to get in.

On the other hand, I knew a chief that retired from the Navy and bought a franchise on the same street as the spaghetti house. During the Nixon years’ recession, I stopped in and ordered a shake and noticed the glass wasn’t full. When I asked him about it, he responded something like this, “This recession is killing me. If I don’t cut portions, I’ll go out of business.”

I never returned to his restaurant, but I returned many times to Mr. Ramoni’s Spaghetti House on Fifth Avenue.

Oh, it wasn’t long before the chief was bankrupt and out of business. Today, I’m quite sure Mr. Ramoni has gone on to the next life, but his family is still in business with restaurants now throughout the western states.

The point is this: Focus on your customers.

If you are a pastor, focus on your members.

No. 3 – Loss of Prominence

Prominence is related to visibility.

You’ve heard the saying, “Out of sight, out of mind?”

It’s true. People easily forget you if you don’t keep your business before them through newsletters, e-mails, notes, advertising, marketing, public relations, special promotions, etc. Consider budgeting 10%  to 12% of your net profits for marketing and advertising.

Fizzling companies cut back on their advertising during difficult times, but not the flourishing companies. Jesus told us you don’t light a light and then hide it under a bushel so nobody can see it.

Ask yourself:

  1. Does this community really know what my company offers?
  2. Do people know the great benefits they’ll receive for doing business with me?
  3. Do people know what makes my company different than all the rest, or am I just one name among many from which they may choose?
  4. Who are we as a company (business, ministry, or church)?
  5. What are our core values?
  6. Can I articulate my company’s vision succinctly?
  7. Do I promote the vision radically and persistently among my staff, employees, sales people, etc.?
  8. Can each of my employees and reps articulate my vision in just a sentence or two?
  9. What can I do to make my customers or clients say, “Wow, they really care about me”?
  10. Has there been a shift in my focus?
  11. Have I been focusing on my problems or my customer’s challenges?
  12. Am I hiding my business under a bushel?
  13. What is my marketing and advertising budget?
  14. Something sets me apart from all the rest. What is that something?

Answering these questions honestly will help you avoid the ranks of the fizzling and will keep you in the ranks of the FLOURISHING!

These are important questions to ask. Take a “time-out,” and go over this message again and again.

Ask the tough questions. Ask God to show you something from his heart, something from his Kingdom that you can bring into the earthly kingdom to be a blessing to people.

Remember, you are called to be the head and not the tail, and you are going over, not under! God has given YOU the power to get wealth and that power is IN YOU! (Deuteronomy. 8:18; Ephesians. 3:20)

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