14 Tips for
Small Businesses to Thrive in a Down Economy
If your thoughts are primarily fear based, if you’re
envisioning the worst for yourself and your business, if your
conversations are focused predominately on bad news, then you’re
seriously impeding your own success. Instead of giving succor to all
the negative blathering, buckle down and determine to take three
actions every single day to improve revenue! Here are some
1) Don’t you Dare Pick up that Phone Unless it’s to
Generate Business! Be ruthlessly disciplined about generating
business as job one. Any activity that doesn’t secure new business
should be delegated, or done during non-business hours. Prioritize
everything else around this fundamental principle. During business
hours, dedicate yourself exclusively to building your business.
2) Virtually Stalk your Prospects: Describe your
ideal client. What types of organizations do they belong to? Join
them. What kinds of publications do they read? Read them. What
types of events do they attend? Attend them. Differentiate
yourself with detective work about your targeted prospects.
Research them; tap your network to learn more. This information
helps warm up cold contacts, sets you apart from the most others who
won’t go to this much effort.
3) Work Backward to Move Forward: If you’re tracking
important ratios, you know how many qualified prospect meetings it
takes to generate one client, and the average sale per client. With
only these two pieces of information, you can control how much you
sell each month. Determine desired sales volume, then conduct two
to three times the number of qualified prospect meetings required to
4) Invite Scrutiny: Whose business acumen do you
admire? Who’s already successful in your field? Whose clientele
does your product or service compliment? Invite these folks to be
your Advisory Board. Meet quarterly to gain their advice on you
business challenges. Advisory boards impose a level of scrutiny and
accountability that both challenge and comfort. Ensure you get
unbiased, unemotional, tough truths by not including friends and
loved ones on the board.
5) Your Pipeline is your Lifeline: Never stop
prospecting. In good times or bad, keep your pipeline full! Even
when you’re flush with business, don’t get cocky. Realize that if
you wait to prospect until you need new clients; it’ll be too late
to achieve immediate results.
6) You Lag Before you Bag: The lag time between your
first meeting with a qualified prospect and the closing the sale is
an essential ratio for managing your productivity. The sales you
bag today likely began at least 3 months ago!
7) Play the Numbers: Whether you enjoy it or not is
irrelevant; networking is an imperative. Learn how to do it well.
If you want to survive the lean times, you have to network
regularly, and focus on helping others. Understand that networking
is a numbers game. Play to win!
8) Don’t Pander; Ponder! Showcasing your wisdom
without taking time to probe causal factors can be insulting.
Instead, honor the complexity of client issues. Be inquisitive
about their goals, frustrations, hopes, and struggles. Then
construct a matrix of options, and augment this with the advantages
and disadvantages of each.
9) Prepare to Bend by Predicting the Trends: Be
vigilant about monitoring relevant trends, since they’re always in
flux. Even more importantly, anticipate and maintain an awareness
regarding forces that could affect the trends you’re monitoring.
Doing so enables you to foresee and adapt to emerging trends before
your competitors do.
10) Don’t Defer Getting Referrals: If you’re not
comfortable asking your satisfied clients to provide referrals, do
it anyway! Once you’ve delighted them, conduct a brief interview to
learn what they valued most about working with you. Using this
information, draft a brief testimonial for them to edit and print
onto their letterhead.
11) Publicize or Perish: Both credibility and sales
increase from publishing articles or books, and speaking on your
area of expertise. It’s not that hard! Every time you solve a
problem for a client, produce an outline the process from start to
finish. Then fill in the outline, and voila, you have an article or
a speech. Multiple articles can comprise a book. Writing a book is
less daunting if you write only one chapter at a time without
thinking of it as a book.
12) Value for Free = Service for Fee: Consider
providing an educational session to prospective clients at no
charge, but structure the delivery so that they want more. For
example, deliver the information you promised to deliver, but make
reference to additional, high value information your clients
13) Don’t Attend Conventions without Clear Intentions:
Recoup the opportunity cost of attending conventions. Get an
attendee list in advance of the meeting, identify and research your
targets before you even leave town. Then make it your mission at the
meeting to establish contact and engage them. Remember: attendance
is not an outcome. Make your attendance result in new business by
preparing in advance.
14) Break it Down to Build it Up: Identify key result
areas of your business, such as prospecting, delivery, marketing,
speaking, new product development, etc. For each, write out
measurable goals each quarter. Break these down into component
parts, and include them in your calendaring tool.
No matter how
many of these tips you implement, your own outlook and attitude can
diminish their effectiveness. Those who prevail in difficult times
are the ones who steadfastly refuse to allow negativity to form a
barrier to their success – who instead deliberately and diligently
take constructive action, thereby refreshing and reinvigorating
their minds and their spirits, enabling them to take more action,
which refreshes and reinvigorates.
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