Savvy business owners can not only survive bad times, but also position themselves for future growth and prosperity. How can you do it? In a word: focus. Focus your energy on trimming the fat in your business and measuring the value of how, and with whom, you spend your time. After you assess which activities add value to your business, eliminate time and energy wasters. Here are some ways you can narrow your focus and enhance your efforts to grow your business:
Networking events: If your goal is to improve the overall caliber of your clients, you need to be at events where you’ll find better ones. Don’t continue your memberships in organizations out of habit. The smarter option is only to participate in those that provide great contacts and actual business. To figure out which networking events are most worth your time, ask yourself, “How many events do I attend where the majority of the attendees are my ideal clients?” And don’t be afraid to be the only one in your industry at a networking event. If your ideal clients are attending specific events, it only makes sense for you to be there, too. For example, if your ideal clients are high net worth individuals, consider attending philanthropic advisors’ meetings, or if you have a printing business, join a group of marketing professionals.
Business friends: Have you been spending social time with the same colleagues for years because you’re comfortable with them? Are they at the same level of business you are? Cultivating business relationships is like playing tennis. If you “play” with people who are better than you, your game will improve. If you associate with people at your level or below, your game will plateau and there’s no forward motion. The people you’re meeting for coffee, lunch, and so on should truly add something to your business and vice versa.
Social media: There are about a zillion social networks out there and you can spend half your day Twittering your every move, posting interesting comments to Facebook, and searching for new Linked In contacts. While these are legitimate online marketing opportunities, be realistic about your objectives and make sure they can meet them in the Web 2.0 arena. For example, use Facebook to advertise free or low cost teleclasses, webinars, or products; use LinkedIn to advertise association conferences or post your articles.
Newsletters: Recently, I realized that I was receiving too many e-newsletters simply out of habit that were cluttering up my inbox. Now, as newsletters arrive in my inbox, I ask myself. “Do I depend on this newsletter for useful information that I can apply to improve my business? Do they have a business that is on a level where I want to be in a few years? Do I often learn how to do business better from them?” If the answer is no, then I unsubscribe. Also, consider subscribing to newsletters from people outside your field or industry who may provide new strategies for approaching common challenges all business owners face.
Clients: This is a hard cutback to make, especially in this economy. However, marketing guru Seth Godin recently wrote a blog post in which he talked about how pandering to the masses and casting a wide marketing net leads to “dumb” customers. Dumb customers don’t spend as much, don’t talk as much, don’t blog as much, and don’t evangelize on your behalf as much as you want them to. It is hard to turn down money, especially in this economy, but dumb customers may take more of your time and energy than the account is worth. One step you can take to make sure you don’t attract the wrong clients is to have a clear vision – in writing – about your company and your ideal client. When you have a written vision of where your company is going and know everything humanly imaginable about your ideal client, you’ll be less likely to dumb down and much more likely to start attracting more high-quality clients-those who know what you do and value the results you produce for them.
The more fat you trim from your daily schedule, the quicker you’ll be on your way to growing your business. By taking charge and focusing on the things that add value to your business, you might even enjoy your work more, delight in your clients, and make the money you deserve.
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©2009 Maria Marsala, Strategic Business Advisor, Speaker, Author and founder of Elevating Your Business, helps high-achieving women who own professional service businesses to increase the value of their company by improving its systems, profitability, and performance. Will you be next? Visit www.ElevatingYourBusiness.com today!