It's hard not to notice all of the negative information in the world right now about how businesses are faring in this economy, but despite it all, as small business owners, we have an amazing opportunity to flourish regardless of the external conditions. This is because most small businesses are held back not by the market, but by the owner. Shocking, I know!
The truth is, it's much easier to blame the economy, our customers, our employees, and almost anything else when we don't succeed in our businesses than it is to look in the mirror and realize that we are at the helm, and we have a great deal of control over our businesses' fate.
Here are three things that you can do today to begin steering your business in a powerful direction:
1. Get Uncomfortable: most of us have one thing that makes us more uncomfortable than anything else; for many of us it's "cold calls." Yet the single most valuable thing that most business owners can do when they need more business is to pick up the phone and start making phone calls. Get a list of prospects together, sit down, and commit to making 5, 10, 50, 100 calls - whatever you think you can do - each week. Just make them!
2. Ask For Input: when running a business, we wear multiple hats. These "hats" often have a constant internal dialogue that maintains our everyday business operations. The trouble is, our "hats" often forget to ask for outside opinions and insight. As a result, we can easily become disconnected from our customers, our employees, suppliers, and critical advisers who can provide valuable insight. Put on just one hat today: curiosity. Wear it to ask everyone you encounter three simple questions: 1) what do you think is going well with the business?; 2) what do you think needs improvement?; 3) do you have any ideas for what we should be doing?
3. Collect on Invoices: while the above two recommendations are about your personal behavior, this one is simply practical. It is a fact that businesses are shutting down, and you don't want to be left holding the check if your customers go out of business. Reduce your billing cycles, and require COD whenever possible. Collect on all outstanding invoices to limit your exposure and ensure steady cash flow.