If you have the right attitude and make the right moves, you can not only weather these uncertain economic times, you can prosper—and come out faster and stronger than your competition.
Based on my 20-plus years as a CPA, successful business executive and head of a successsful firm that has helped hundreds of business succeed, here are 8 steps to grow your business:
- Think positively
- Know Your Numbers
- Manage Your Cash Flow
- Keep Marketing
- Concentrate on Sales
- Don’t forget the Fundamentals
- Continue to Learn & Grow
Step 1: Be Positive
There have been thousands, of books, articles, CDs, DVDs and seminars on the importance of having a positive mindset.
Because the most important factor in business success is having a winning attitude. It is virtually impossible to succeed in business unless you think you are going to.
How can you keep an optimistic attitude all the time? You can’t. You are going to be thrown off by upsetting or distracting events. What’s critical is how quickly you choose to pick yourself up. Notice the word “choose.” Having a positive attitude is a choice.
Step 2: Plan
I don’t know a single successful business person who doesn’t plan out at least one year in detail and five at least in a general way. Further, they divide that one-year plan into four measurable, manageable quarterly plans. Then they go even further, developing actions plans of what they intend to accomplish each week. Weekly, monthly and annually they measure their progress against their plans—and make any adjustments that might be necessary.
Just imagine how powerful it would be for your company if every employee had a clear understanding of the most important four or five activities they must deliver on each week.
Step 3: Know your numbers
In my experience, 90% of business owners do not have and/or understand the key numbers for their business. What could be more imperative than knowing the margins your company makes on every product or service? Do you know your important ratios and how they compare with similar companies in your industry or profession? Are you currently spending above or within your means?
In these tough times, consider trying to renegotiate the lease on your business facilities and/or equipment. Also possibly ask your credit card company to lower the interest rate on any balance you carry. Consider taking advantage of early payment discounts to your vendors. But don’t make any payment before it is actually due unless early payment discounts are to your long-term advantage
Step 4: Manage your cash flow
A company may seem profitable on paper but actually suffer from poor cash flow. When looking at your numbers, keep a few things in mind:
- It is simply smart practice to keep your inventory clean and lean, as low as it can be without sacrificing timely delivery to your customers.
- Take a close look at your payment terms for suppliers.
- Are you enforcing them?
- Do you act quickly when they fall behind?
- Would it benefit you to offer suppliers incentives to pay early?
- Are your overtime wages under control?
- Are you taking advantage of flexible work schedules to possibly reduce some fixed salary costs?
Step 5: Keep marketing
There are two targets for your marketing efforts: one is getting new prospects, the other is your existing clients. Far too many business owners focus 98% of their resources on pulling in new customers.
Considering that it’s six times more expensive to get new clients, shouldn’t we spend more effort on keeping the ones we have? And it’s not just holding onto them, but seeing if there are ways to increase sales to them. After all, they already trust and presumably like doing business with you.
Step 6: Concentrate on sales
The focus here is simple: train, train, train. Make sure you have the best prepared sales team in your market and that your staff has performance goals and accurate information about the current performance of your business. Your sales team must also be results driven.
It is imperative that every salesperson is a strong contributor. If not, this is a good time to recruit. There is a lot of great talent available in a tough economy.
Step 7: Don’t forget the fundamentals
Now more than ever, you’ve got to have the right team in place and working efficiently. So it could be cost-effective to provide your staff with a course in time management.
And remember, an organization is always reflects its leader. If you are not good at preventing distractions from taking you off target, your team won’t be either. Lastly, now more than ever, your customer service must be extraordinary. When products and services are similar, customer service—good or bad—most often is what distinguishes one business from another
Step 8: Keep learning
Now is also a great time to expand company training. Most leaders—in fact, most people—spend more time planning their yearly vacation than planning their personal development.
The world is changing faster every day. The business mantra for today is adapt or die.
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