When sales are slower, it doesn’t mean that you have to slow down the business or settle for diminished returns. Any economic downturn is a wake-up call for you to look for new opportunities.
Seven steps to improving business and getting ahead in slow times.
Reshape Your Vision
Redefine your original business vision and start projects so dynamic that you’ll be eager to get to work each morning. Take a few days off, and ponder the direction you want to follow. Recognize that you will have to work smarter and possibly harder.
Analyze New Market Conditions
Which parts of the market are most profitable? How large are these parts, and who is there already?
Say you’re a CPA. Your hectic tax season is over, but clients are worried about the shrunken value of their investment portfolios. Maybe they would pay for some sound retirement planning help. Pretend that you’re one of those clients.
What services would you need? Better yet, interview some of your clients to discover any new and pressing needs. Then incorporate those solutions into your service.
Be More Efficient
Tighten standards in your existing business. Make quick assessments of who is likely to buy, and don’t waste time on those who probably won’t. Redirect that time and energy to growth projects.
Set New Goals
What do you want from the business? If you’re a carpenter, perhaps you want to grow tenfold over die next five years and focus on the booming home-improvement market instead of seasonal construction. If so, concentrate on getting diose types of jobs and gradually hiring your crew. Or perhaps you want to go it alone in cabinetmaking and increase your profit margin— finding a niche where you can charge 30% more—and do it with less overhead and a smaller staff.
Set Action Goals
What will you do every week to achieve results—15 cold calls to prospective clients, a mailing to past customers, handing out 23 business cards, sending 200 copies of a press release and making five follow-up calls a day to recipients?
Create A Measurement System
This will allow you to see if you are meeting your action goals.
Example: I like to use a graph that contrasts my goals with my results—for example, planned phone calls against actual calls made. By doing this, I can see whether I am above or below my planned target and can make continuous adjustments.
After six months or a year of following your plan, step back and take a fresh look. Is it working? Are you having fun? You may want to focus on the part of the business that you enjoy and taper off other parts.
The real bottom line: Find the balance that will produce the income you want with the effort you want to invest.