By Michael Gunther and Eric Hubbs
The business environment has evolved quickly in the last few months. You might remember it was only a short while ago that your phones would be ringing off the hook with potential clients, customer traffic was high in your store, people were actually buying goods, and your website was receiving high visitor counts and requests for bids. Business was to be had, without having to try to gain or earn the business.
Then came “The Great Recession,” and all the sudden, you’re finding yourself scrambling for work. You spend more time than ever trying to find clients, and you have little time to actually lead your business because you are so busy working in the business.
What can you do to accelerate your business growth again?
We have compiled some strategies that we’ve used with hundreds of our clients to build successful businesses even in the most challenging economic times.
Take a look at your top clients – research everything about them
• Take 30 minutes and make a spreadsheet.
- On the left put you’re the 10 clients or customers who you really enjoyed working with.
- Then, on the top, put the following headers: Age, sex, where they live, why they came to you, how fast they decided to work with you, where they heard of you, if they bought repeat services from you, and 5 other questions that are pertinent to your product or service.
- Fill in all these questions for each client in the spreadsheet
- The goal is to learn who your target clients/customers are, how they buy, and how you can get more people like them to hear of you.
• Then take a look at the averages and the repeats and compare that with your current lead generation activities.
• Are you spending time where your ideal clients are? Are you putting your energy into the right types of marketing campaigns?
• Don’t waste time or money marketing to people who aren’t similar to the people on this list.
Don’t let optimism get the best of you
• Many businesses are suffering right now. Business is down. It’s a reality. It’s something that is not going to go away anytime soon, so instead of hoping that the next sunny day is coming soon- you’ve got to face reality and realize that to survive this economy, you have to look at the changes that need to be made to fit the current situation.
• You may need to cut certain services, re-structure your team, or change your marketing strategies. Whatever you do, make sure it is in keeping with the fact that we may be in this recession for awhile. It doesn’t mean you have to change everything, but those who do make the tough decisions now will be around to rapidly grow when things turn around.
Utilize and appreciate your team like you never have before
• If you’re stressed during these times, you can bet that your employees are more stressed.
• Keep open communication with your employees about where your company stands, and collaborate with them on how to capitalize on the strengths of the company – they most likely will see things you don’t.
• Listen to them as they give you advice on how the company can improve processes, decrease expenses and take advantage of opportunities.
• Look for skills they may have not been using in their position, but could start utilizing to improve the company.
• Continue to invest your time and money to train your employees and keep their skills sharp. As the economy continues to decline, it will be even more imperative that your employees wear multiple hats.
If you feel yourself getting frustrated with this economy, just remember that there were more millionaires created during The Great Depression of the 1930’s than any other time in U.S. History. The opportunities are out there. The strong will survive. You have to work harder, smarter, and be constantly monitoring how you can improve. It is an exciting time to own a business!