Small businesses can succeed even during bad economic times

Hi again.  I’d like to offer you some strategies to help your small business grow even during our current recession.  Basically, there are opportunities for most industries to turn lemons into lemonade.

As a consultant for many years to both private clients and clients of Small Business Development Centers, I’ve seen some businesses succeed while others fail.  I’ve noticed that the ones who succeed, even during touch economic times, are usually the ones who do their homework… they take the time to study the market.  They have developed their strategies and documented those strategies in a thorough business plan.

Basically, failing to plan is planning to fail.  Successful business people do what unsuccessful people are unwilling to do.  Are you unwilling to take a few hours each week and dedicate them to studying economic trends that affect your business?  Or, are you “planning to fail” like all of the other people around you who work blindly in their local, national, or international market.  Now is the time to do MORE studying and less WATCHING of the news!  Get out of your TV room and into your local college library.

First, I’d like to applaud your interest in doing whatever it takes to successfully start or grow your own business, especially in a challenging economy that we now face here in the US, and congradulate you for having the courage to change your life for the better.  Running your own business can be both rewarding and challenging, and researching and writing and effective business plan will go a long way to making sure you are a success.  When you research and write a plan, you’re doing the kind of work that Fortune 1000 companies do in order to increase their profits year after year.  You’ll gain clarity and confidence in making decisions based on the knowledge and understanding of principles that make the best businesses successful.

So, welcome to the new rules.  You’ve got to be more savvy and more careful in this new economy.  You’ll need to map out a step by step process for you to move from where you are to where you want to be.  If you don’t have a “entrepreneur coach” or “business coach,” you’ll want to hire one who has been down the road you need to take.   I’d recommend that you check out the local franchise owner from a company for whom I used to work as an Membership Advisor.   Visit them at http://www.onecoach.com.

One of the key things I learned from the highly successful founders of OneCoach is that your own mindset, belief systems, confidence, and decision making habits, often unconscious, can lead your business down a path of success or failure.  If you don’t make consistently the right decision, you’re going to doom your business even if you have a product or service in high demand with little competition.

“Know thyself” is a command from the philosophers that applies equally to entrepreneurs.  Know what your tendencies are, how emotionally involved you are in your business to see if you are making decisions based on emotions of fear or hope or greed instead of making wise rational objective decisions.  You’ll want to get in the habit of consulting with people more often than you ever have been before.  Just like in real estate the motto is “location, location, location,” in developing the best strategies to take your business to where you want it to be, you need to “consult, consult, consult.”  Make sense?

You’ll also want to look into business plan writing software.  I’d recommend Business Plan Pro by Palo Alto.  Get their latest version if you want to pay full price or get last year’s version for a discount.  I’ve found killer deals on business plan software in the clearance section of Office Depot:  last year’s software at 1/3 the cost!  Software will guide you through all the number crunching and create automatic and pretty looking reports for you.  And it will ask you not all, but, MOST of the questions you’ll need to have solid and thorough answers to before you start any marketing campaign.

You’ll also want to do some market research and start following the blogs of the nations best economists.  I’d recommend the book Basic Economics.  I don’t recall the subtitle off hand but I’ll look it up and post it for you.

Just as much as you want to learn what the best practices are for your particular industry, i.e. learn from the most successful people around you, you’ll also want to find out from failed business owners what took them out of the game.  This information can often be even more valuable.  Learn from others’ mistakes.  Now, sometimes, when asked, people don’t truly know all the factors that lead to their failure … or for that matter, their success.  So, take what they say with a grain of salt.  But, still, you’ll want to ask.

You may have heard that the Small Business Administration, a Federal government agency, has reported that about 60% of all small businesses fail within the first 4 years.  So, you’re probably asking, “How can I beat the odds?”  In this blog, we’ll cover all the common mistakes and help you navigate the waters so you don’t drown.  You’ll also learn from me all the logical but often overlooked marketing and sales strategies that can lead to an increase in the return of your investment of time and money.
Without sales, and the marketing process necessary to get those sales, you’re business will not last.  I will teach you in simple plain language exactly what homework you’ll need to do in order to develop effective marketing strategies.  When you understand your own strengths and weaknesses as it relates to your business, that is, your own personality from an objective point of view of a good psychologist, and when you understand the psychology of your preferred client or customer, you’ll know exactly what to do and what not to do to generate the greatest profit form the lowest risk of marketing investment.  The strategies are simple.  They simply take time to develop and test.

If you are like most small business owners, though.  You simply won’t take the time to do it… and that is why you are most likely not to have a profitable business as the economy weakens.  I strongly recommend that you start planning now, as the economy isn’t going to get any better any time soon.  I’m confident, since I’ve been doing my homework.

Too often, small business owners act like foolish generals of an army:  they send out their troops with no plan, no understanding of the battlefield, no weapons, no ammo, and no defenses.  Just how likely is it that they are goign to win a war like that?  Instead, you’ll want to research and write your plan, raise capital if you need to, and establish relationships with all the right people… partners, vendors, and clients.  Actually, it is a lot simpler than you think.

But, if you haven’t been in the habit of doing even simple things, things that you KNOW you need to be doing, what is the liklihood that you are going to start doing them?  That’s why you need to hire a coach, hire a business plan writer, hire a market research firm, and work with as many of the free service providers made available to you in your local community, like the SBDCs and SCORE counselors.  Attend their low cost workshops and sign up for their free counseling.  To find the local SBDC near you, visit:  http://www.SBDCnetwork.com

Create a team that will help you recession-proof your business.  Become the smart general that plans, prepares, recruits, edifies, protects, and feeds its army.  Then your business can “Be all it can be.”  :O)

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