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Complete Business Wisdom

Shepherd More Business to Your Doorstep
Harvy Simkovits, CMC — Published in Boston Business Journal 8/6/99

We are certainly in times of great marketplace change, and even crisis for some businesses. And, like the Chinese character for "crisis," which combines their symbols for "danger" and "opportunity," today’s economic times offer the same combination. When you examine your own business and perceive the signs of crisis going on around you, do you then see danger or do you see opportunity? If you choose the former, then you work to cut staff, marketing and education costs, and other expenses. However, if you see the latter, then you will strategically invest your resources in creative ways that will offer you a sound financial return, even during a business downturn.

One professional service firm was recently faced with this dilemma. With a reduction of work coming into the firm, the firm’s leaders pondered whether they should significantly cut staff, to "save" their way out of the downturn. Instead, they chose to educate their professional staff to become more entrepreneurial, working to independently market their own services, and to be rewarded, individually and collectively, for what they each brought in. This firm chose to "sell" its way out of the slump. As a result, short-term profitability declined some, yet the prospects for long-term prosperity were greatly enhanced, because professional staff learned how to better market and pay for themselves.

Here are a number of other ways to invest in prosperity, and seek opportunity in today’s changing times:

  1. Think More Strategically about Your Business Offerings and Target Customers — Focus your company’s offerings to those target-markets where there is potential for greater profitability. One company repackaged its service offerings into "silver, gold and platinum" levels so that customers had more choice in which package to purchase. Think through the various packages you can create that will give customers choice and meet their needs.
  2. Effectively Seek, Create and Acquire New Business Opportunities — Are there new, creative opportunities available to you even in an economic downturn? Another service firm, specializing in employee recruiting services, began offering outplacement services for times of economic downturn. By offering multiple services that fit well together, they could thrive under any economic condition.
  3. Grow Your Business through Contacts, Connections and Collaborations — The notion here is to build a network of intermediaries who freely refer you to customers because they don’t compete with you and complement what you offer. Especially in tough economic times, planting seeds with a network of business people ensures your company staying "top of mind" when things start turning around, thereby attracting more business to you and your firm.
  4. Cultivate Quality, Profitable Customer Relationships — Invest only in those customer relationships that are lucrative for your business. Too often companies chase after "bad" business where they bend over backwards to acquire and retain customers that return little to the business’ bottom line. Go after the "wheat," but not the "chaff."
  5. Carry Yourself with Greater Personal Confidence and Certainty — If you have a vision of greatness for yourself and your business, then you will walk tall and find the energy it takes to make it through the tougher times. We have a great and resilient economy, certainly better than in most other parts of the world. Holding onto your optimism and business vision will propel you forward with enthusiasm and gusto, allowing any roadblocks to be just things to deal with along your path towards success.
  6. Portray a More Profound Professional Presence with Customers and Colleagues — How you and your company representatives "show up" in the world will cause customers to be attracted or not attracted to your business. Using this principle, the business growth of another very successful professional service firm comes strictly from referrals. Clients are attracted to this firm because of the personalities of its senior partners, who project confidence, capability, creativity and comedy (they have great senses of humor) in every thing they do, not only with customers but with their staff.

So what’s your business vision, and are you going forward every day with energy and enthusiasm? Is your strategy targeted to the right customers with the right, profitable offerings? Are you mining for intermediaries who, in the course of their own prospecting, can sell you and your business? Choosing to see "opportunity" in the marketplace, rather than just "danger," can change your whole attitude and approach to your business, and yield much greater success.

Harvy Simkovits, CMC, President of Business Wisdom, works with owner managed companies to help them grow, prosper and continue on by offering innovative approaches to business development, company management, organization leadership and learning, and management education. He can be reached at 781-862-3983 or .

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