Everyone asks “when will it end?” Perhaps the more important question is “What can I do to turn things around?”
Large corporations, cities and banks are lining up for their share of the stimulus package – but as we’ve seen with some companies – receiving money isn’t changing behavior and soon the money runs out and hands are outstretched once again.
Thank goodness for the entrepreneur!
As small business owners we have the ability to make rapid changes. Unlike large corporations with stock holders and board members to appease, we can assess the situation and make the necessary adjustments to stay current and valid for our customer.
Surviving the next 18 months will require an honest review of how we do business, with whom we do business and even what our business looks like. I would suggest that we all take a good long look in the mirror and ask:
- What am I known for in the industry?
- Does that still have value in light of the current economic climate?
- Has my ideal customer changed?
- Has what my customer requires changed?
- Does my customer seek information in different venues than they did 12 months ago?
- Does my pricing structure meet the needs of my customer or do I need to offer ala cart options and alternative payment plans?
- How have I marketed my business?
- Is that still an effective vehicle?
- Have I embraced social media?
- How can social media help my business?
- Are there products and services that I offer that no longer make sense?
- Is there a different line of products or services that will more effectively meet my customer’s needs?
- What training do I need?
- Who can I partner with to provide more value to my customers?
- Is bartering an alternative solution that makes sense for my business?
- In what circumstance?
- If my goal is to not only be in business 12 months from now, but to be a thriving, growing business; what one thing do I need to change today to make that happen?
Perhaps the biggest area on which entrepreneurs should focus their attention is that of the customer experience. Consumers no longer have the time, patience or money to mess around with businesses that just don’t care – or treat them as if they don’t care.
Forget second chances. We have to be welcoming, listening, empathetic to their needs and willing to build a relationship with every person that that enters our business, picks up the phone or sends us an email.
Do your employees understand the critical importance of the customer interaction? Are they in it for the paycheck or to make a difference in the life of each customer?
As small business owners, we have the opportunity to make a difference, but only if we are willing to truly look at who we are, who we help and how we help them to ensure we are offering valuable solutions to our customer’s needs.
As we grow stronger, so will the country.
Resources to check out:
- Kevin Purdy at Lifehacker talks about using Craigslist to Barter.
- Wayne Hurlbert talks about Preparing for Change in his post about reassessing your business.
- Guy Kawasaki talks about 10 ways to use LinkedIn for your business.
- The Huffington Post has published a new book entitled The Complete Guide to Blogging. If you aren’t blogging or using social media in some form or fashion – it is time to start.
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About the Author: Deborah Chaddock Brown opened her freelance writing business AllWrite Ink in 2004 after almost 17 years with the International retail optical corporation, Pearle Vision. Deborah’s background is in franchising, operations, marketing and communication, however, her passion is helping businesses connect with their target audience using the Internet. Deborah blogs at Websites People Read.