By Terry Brock
2009 will probably be your toughest year in business.
This sounds like a negative way to start but it is very positive. Stay with me on this one and you’ll find ways you can take your business — and your personal life —- to some new levels you’ve wanted for a long time.
We are in a different world today than even a year ago. The economy is front and center on the minds of many in business. We see what is happening and government forces make their repeated feeble attempts to try this new thing that they tell us is going to work. Unfortunately, we seldom hear what has already worked in history and what hasn’t. A lack of historical knowledge leads to lots of problems. Think George Santana and repeating the problems of history.
Yet, what is new really is from what is old. The principles of success from long ago work today. Sure, we need to add today’s new twist of technology (think Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and more) but the principles are the same.
2009 can be your toughest year and it can be your best — at the same time. Think about it. Haven’t you been your personal best when you have to stretch, grow, discipline yourself and become more of the person you want to be? Sure, it is hard going through. Ouch! You have to do things that are unpleasant. You can fall down and skin your knees (or worse). Yet, it is that dogged determination to keep going no matter what that keeps us moving forward. Think Cool Hand Luke and Rocky Balboa here from the movies. Those lessons work in real life.
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Here are some specific, real-world action steps that have already helped many businesses and can help you as we encounter challenges and opportunities today:
# 1 – Laser-Beam Focus Outside; Avoid Navel Gazing
All business is about getting and retaining profitable customers. It is really that simple. Sales is most important in business. Too often we focus on the delightfully intriguing minutiae of administrative in business to the neglect of customers and generating sales. Don’t just study your navel — look at what others are dealing with and help them.
Everyone in business is in sales. From the CEO to janitors, focus has to be riveted on generating more profitable sales and bottom line results. If you doubt that, just look at those laid off recently. Those who are generating huge profits for a business are retained. Those who are not carrying their weight, or who can be replaced by other systems, are discarded. Think of your business like a ship at sea in a violent storm. Anything not absolutely critical to the ship’s survival has to be thrown overboard.
Focus your efforts on generating more profitable customers as never before. Discipline yourself to avoid the delightfully intriguing small tasks and activities that really don’t bring in money. Avoid navel gazing. This is the core principle of Relationship Marketing.
#2 Watch The Numbers
Get a system and pay very careful attention to the important numbers in your business. How many sales calls have you made? How many marketing brochures have you produced and sent, and how many generated inquiries? How many visit your website and particularly which pages?
There are a host of numbers to watch in business and your business will be different. Make that list of what you have to watch — those numbers that relate to helping customers —- and focus on them with laser-beam intensity.
#3 Expect Some Setbacks
This is not negative. This is what I like to call realistically positive. You know that on this planet stuff happens. Plan for it. Think about what are some likely scenarios.
This is part of being realistic and being prepared for whatever might happen.
However, expecting setbacks is tightly coupled too.
#4 Plan How To Overcome Setbacks
Lay out scenarios of how you can overcome setbacks that are likely to occur. Football coach Bear Bryant of the University of Alabama was famous for his contingency plans. He knew the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses. He had hundreds of plans written to handle hundreds of possibilities. Did he use them all? Of course not. But the mental discipline helped him to prepare how to overcome whatever might hit.
In your business you have to have those plans of what could happen and how you will deal with potential problems. More than anything this exercise helps you to think critically about how to move ahead.
#5 Celebrate Regularly
In tough times we have to have our full mental and physical abilities fine-tuned and ready for anything. By celebrating regularly (I recommend at least weekly) for even tiny achievements, we create a stronger desire to achieve.
Make those celebrations frequent and directly related to objective, customer-benefiting, profit-generating activities.
Doing these activities will help you get ahead no matter what. This is a great time. Yes, it will be a tough year. And like the old saying, When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Make it work for you with the right skills and fortitude to blast through any barrier. Embrace the old principles that have worked and couple them with new technologies. You’ll have a winning combination!
Write me and let me know so I can share this with others. [email protected] I look forward to hearing of your success.
Copyright © 2009, Terry Brock and Achievement Systems, Inc. Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and professional speaker who helps businesses generate profitable results. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at [email protected] or through his website at www.terrybrock.com.