Friday, October 30, 2009

Down Economy...Up Opportunity

You've got to wonder when large media outlets feature growth opportunity for small business if either something has changed, did they realize that doom and gloom weren't selling magazines, or did someone else finally notice how many businesses that started during the depressions are still here and those that succeeded did so in huge ways?

Take a look at just one list and if you haven't considered it before, this can be a real eye-opener. One of the things that commonly happens, and this is even more common in small business, is pulling everything in and down. Do we need to in some areas? Definitely! And activities that reach customers actually need to be increased! In most cases, your competitors are going to be doing less to reach clients. The perfect time for you to reach even more--and be set for an even greater explosion when the upswing begins.

So here are some top-tips for launching or expanding your business in a squeeze-economy.

1. Talk to your existing clients! Find out what they love about you, your service, etc. And find out what they wish worked better. Jump on the band wagon to fix the things they don't like. Then, find more people like your existing clients as they are more likely to love you, too!

(Most of you know you want to find clients like the ones you have--and I can't tell you the
number of businesses who completely forget to ask their current resources. In my book,
that's criminal. That's the same has having someone hand you a bar of gold and you make it into gold flake to pu on your hamburger when you can barely afford groceries. Okay,
soapbox going away now.)

2. Identify the least expensive way to reach that target market--ask yourself 5 times how can I do this for less money?
(I know, this is another one that seems obvious, and still most people over look this. For
example, you're an insurance agent and you want to reach more renters--fast sales cycle, smaller claims, and a small percentage will become long-term clients who buy houses, have
kids, etc. It's probably LOTS less expensive to take whatever mailing piece your company has and get a version of it printed for you by your local printer on less expensive paper and leave off your picture. Then, each day, take a one-hour walk for lunch and drop off the door hangers in appropriate neighborhoods or spend time calling on leasing offices. And go back to the offices at least once a month, build that long-term relationship.

3. Create less overhead in your operation. This is a case of reverse engineering "follow the money."
(Take a day or two trace, in great detail, exactly where and how many places a dollar goes
after it comes into your business. How many people have to "handle" that dollar and in how many ways? Eventually, how does that dollar get spent? What steps can be shortened or even eliminated? Can you set up some things to be handled automatically? Start looking in the nooks and crannies of your process to put the profit-squeeze on your cash flow. )

4. Do a lateral comparison: This refers to shopping a complimentary or auxiliary business to your own. Instead of shopping the competition, look for services or providers who are "next door" to what you do.
(Look for what you like about their business, marketing materials, and how or if it might
appeal to your key customers. This gives you ideas on how to connect with those key clients
in a greater way and tells you who might be good referral alliances for your business.(

Spread your wings, entrepreneurs! It's the perfect time to power up your courage and intention so you can serve more people during this time when we so desperately need to support each other!

Wishing you Success & Heart,
Heidi Sue

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