How to "Unstick" Your Business in Turbulent Times

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, chances are you are struggling right now with ways to move your business forward. Clients have probably stopped buying your products and services, or drastically cut back on the business they were sending your way. You might be struggling to find new clients. You’re probably pulling out all the stops, to come up with creative ways to get your employees re-engaged and keep them motivated that things will turn around some time soon. Most likely, you yourself have doubts if things will turn around, in time to keep your business afloat.

Fear not! There are proactive steps you can take to move your business forward.

Take a cold, hard look at your client list. Identify those clients that are your most profitable. Build a “Best Customer Profile.” Be sure to write it down. That will become your target for identifying highly qualified SIMILAR contacts at organizations for you to aggressively target. Be as specific as possible to build a complete picture of your most profitable client.

While you’re at it, think about these clients that are your most profitable. Chances are, they are your most loyal customers. They always refer new business your way, speak well about the service you provide, and have provided you with testimonials. They are your “Apostles.” Now’s the perfect time to go on an apostle appreciation tour. Take these clients out to lunch. Let them know that in these trying times, you are here for them. DON’T ask for referrals. It’s a way for you to thank them for their support, and NOT a shakedown.

Next up…change your approach! When you do the same thing over and over and expect a different outcome, it’s called “INSANITY.” Re-evaluate ALL of our systems, processes, and procedures. If the answer to why you are doing something a certain way is “that’s how we’ve always done it” then it’s probably time to tear that down and find a new approach. There are no SACRED cows…everything is fair game.

Create a networking plan. When you created a profile of your most profitable client you should have captured information on where these types of individuals met in professional Associations, clubs, organizations. You must identify these events and make a point of attending as many as you can.

Write! Write! Write! Become a subject matter expert on any and all topics that are near and dear to the hearts of your apostles and ideal customer profiles. Start by authoring blogs, articles, white papers, anything you can do to get your name in front of your ideal client profiles. While you’re at it…SHAKE THINGS UP! If you spend a lot of time in your office, GET OUT! Schedule as many meetings out of the (home) office as you possibly can. While you’re out, spoil yourself. Buy yourself something nice. Go to an afternoon matinee. Do something you wouldn’t normally do, just to say thank you to YOU!

Revisit your partner strategy. Which people that you know in your professional network have complementary products and services that fit nicely with your offerings. If you already have partners and there is no synergy then cut those relationships loose. While we on the subject of products and services.

Now is a great time to rethink your product and service offerings. Is there something you can offer that you aren’t? Ask your apostles on your appreciation tour.

Take an END-OF-YEAR look back NOW. Don’t wait for the holidays. You’ll be drowning in eggnog, Depression, and holiday distractions. Volunteer what little spare time you have to charitable organizations, not-for-profits, your local church, synagogue, homeless shelter, senior citizen center. Go back to school! Take a class, learn a new skill, or attend a Webinar. You should always find time to develop new skills.

Re-engage your industry trade Association, local Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Toastmasters…whatever! Get involved on a Committee to plan for their end-of-year gala.
Now is NOT the time to stick your head in the ground and hope the tornado blows past. Stay focused, re-evaluate your business, keep active but working aggressively. Channel your efforts towards re-discovering your clients and the reasons you started your business.