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Getting back to the basics

As the summer winds down and schools start up again, we’re reminded that it’s time to get back to the basics.

The pandemic and the resulting aftermath of inflation, labor shortages and supply chain challenges have thrown all of us for a giant loop. We’ve had to reimagine how we do business, adhere to various public health ordinances and regulations, and find ways to comply with new laws that impact the bottom line. This has been no small feat for our businesses or community, but it’s a true testament to how resilient we all are in the face of adversity.

I know of some businesses that are “surviving” but are exasperated with these challenges and continued pressure to turn a profit while being saddled with more government fees and regulations. Although times may be tough, now is a good opportunity to revisit your business plan, review the reasons that inspired you to start your business and get back to the fundamentals.

While the idea of getting back to basics may seem fruitless now, it’s important to take a moment to think about the foundation of your business, mission, vision and values. This can help you forge ahead and reignite the passion.

At the Chamber, we’re doing the same. We’re analyzing the services and programs we offer and identifying better ways to provide resources to our members. We’re also revisiting the role we play in the community and why having a strong Chamber of Commerce is important. Here’s what we’re assessing, which may also help your organization:

  • What is your purpose? It’s the “why” to every operation. For the Chamber, our business is helping other businesses succeed. We provide workshops that can help your business grow. We also provide a big voice for small business. Our organization doesn’t receive funding through government or grants. We are membership-based, which means we represent approximately 750 businesses and advocate for our members when we speak to city, county and state officials and weigh in on issues that impact the business community.
  • Identify your customers and target market. Has it changed since the pandemic? This is an important aspect to review as the world continues to evolve.
  • What do your customers need/want? Knowing how your customers find you and what they want helps refine your marketing and messaging strategies and keeps you on track.
  • Who’s your competition and can you learn something from them? Are there aspects that you can cultivate or do better? This is an opportunity to differentiate your business from the competition. At the Chamber, we have other partner organizations that aren’t competitors but may cross over into each other’s primary functions, which I refer to as swim lanes. As we identify any cross-over, we look for ways to partner and collaborate.

In the end, I encourage everyone to get back to the basics from time to time. By going back to the “why” you’re in business helps you serve customers better; and the fundamentals can keep you grounded, no matter what comes your way.

Jack Llewellyn is executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. Contact him at jack@durangobusiness.org.