Improve Your Business Performance in ANY Economy.
How Entrepreneurs, Start-ups and Business Owners Can Achieve Business Success.
If you are an entrepreneur, start-up, or small business owner, chances are these last 4 years have hit you hard. Are you struggling to improve your business performance? Have clients stopped buying your products and services, or they are cutting back drastically on the business they used to give you. You might be struggling to find qualified leads that you can close to generate new business, or you are having a tough time converting repeat customers into raving fans.
Are you struggling to find creative ways to engage your employees? Do you ask yourself how you are going to motivate your people to find creative solutions to your business challenges? Perhaps you have lost suppliers, or vendors you relied on have gone out of business? Do you feel like every networking event you go to is a room full of financial advisers and sales reps from that legal services MLM? Most likely, it’s been a combination of “all the above” as you grapple with strategies to turn your business around and improve your business performance.
Fear not! Following are proactive steps you can take to improve your business performance, unstick your business and get on the fast track to renewed progress heading into the fourth quarter of 2012
Take a fresh NEW look at your client list: Identify those clients that are your most profitable. Come up with a “Best Customer Profile” and write down in as much detail as you can all of the qualities, features, and attributes of your ideal, most valuable customer. Where are they located, why do they buy from you, why do they stay with you, what if anything special do you do to service and maintain their account (and keep their loyalty?) This ideal customer profile will serve as your target / “bulls-eye” 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.
Identify your most valuable (profitable) clients: Chances are, they are your most loyal customers. They always refer new business your way, speak well about the service you provide, have given you testimonials. They are your “Apostles.” Make an apostle appreciation tour, take these clients out to lunch and let them know you’re here for them. DON’T ask for referrals. It’s a “Thank you for your support” lunch, not a shakedown.
Change your approach…if it ‘aint broke…BREAK it!: There is a word for doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. It’s called INSANITY. Re-evaluate ALL of our systems, processes, and procedures. Why do you continue to do things the way you used to? If your answer is laziness, sheer habit, or that’s how it’s always been done then it’s time to find a new approach. There are no SACRED cows in today’s 21st century global contract workplace. When organizations with 100,000 employees can go out of business seemingly overnight and entire industries implode, the old ways of doing things are not a safeguard but a recipe for disaster.
Create a networking plan: When you created a profile of your most profitable client you should also capture information on where these individuals meet, through their professional Associations, business clubs, organizations. You must identify these key annual trade shows, conferences, and events. Make a point of attending as many as you can.
Become a subject matter expert: Write! Write! Write! Become an authority of any and all subjects that are near and dear to the hearts of your target profiles. You want to author blogs, articles, white papers, anything you can 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, as a way to say “thank you” to YOU!
Revisit your partner strategy: Identify the organizations in your professional network with 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, attend a Webinar. You should always find time to develop new skills.
Re-engage your industry: Pursue the trade Associations that serve your industry with renewed vigor. If you haven’t already done so, consider renewing your membership in your local Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, Toastmasters, Rotary Club, whatever! Become active on a Committee, help plan their end-of-year gala. Now is NOT the time to stick your head in the sand, and hope that things will get better. 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.
Here’s to your continued success.