As the CEO of a $30 Million company , I get a lot of people calling me desperately searching for ways to keep their business growing; to make a lot of money for all the effort they put into it. Ironically, all of these people are searching for some complex, high-tech — almost mystical — solution.
Yet for me there is a much easier , simpler and more expedient way of growing your business.
Work Your Current and Past Customer Lists
The first thing to do, is identify and start conscientiously working your current and past customer lists. Why? Because you spent hundreds, thousands, perhaps even hundreds of thousands of dollars, initially, to locate, court and close those people. You ran huge newspaper ads, paying to reach millions, when in fact you ultimately only induced dozens or hundreds to do business with you. Or you spent a small fortune on the sales efforts your staff made initially contacting, or calling on, all of the suspects and prospects to locate, identify and sell the customer.
Once you’ve developed a customer, you have the most cost-effective, direct access to the single best source of future business there is. All you have to do is intelligently work that list, and rework it over and over again. By intelligently, I mean logically. (more…)
I figured it would be nice to write something about the realities of self-employment. Since there are so many myths about self-employment (especially among lifelong employees), a good place to start would be to dispel some of those myths about Self Employment
1. Self-employed people have to work really long hours.
Many self-employed people work longer hours than employees. Some enjoy their work so much they want to put in long hours. Some set up their businesses in such a way that their physical presence is necessary for income generation. Either way it’s a choice though because you’re the one who decides how to set things up.
Many self-employed people start businesses where they get paid only while they’re working, such as an attorney who opens a law office and bills his/her clients at a certain hourly rate. When the attorney is at home, s/he generates no income.
But there’s no law of self-employment that says you have to start a business that only generates income while you’re working. If you start a business like this, you’re really just creating a job for yourself. I prefer to think of self-employment in terms of systems building. You build income-generating systems that generate income for you, systems you own and control. It’s like you own the golden goose, and it does the work of laying the golden eggs.
So working long hours is largely a symptom of the type of business you create as well as your personal choice. If you don’t like working long hours, you certainly don’t have to.
There is no unconditional yes. Whenever you say yes, you’re also uttering a background no. Whenever you allocate time to one pursuit, you say no to everything else you could have done with that time.
I recently finished reading a really good book called Profit from the Core. The premise of the book is that after working with thousands of companies the authors found that the most successful companies are the ones that specialize in a core product or service or market.
However, these companies became unsuccessful when they began to expand and digress outside of that core. And soon they got further and further from their core and very often they left their core unprotected and their competition swept in and picked it up.
The key takeaway for me was that whenever your business gets into trouble financially the answer is always: Return to your core business.
As a business leader , you need to ask all the time:
- What is my core business?
- What is my most profitable business?
- Where am I the best? Where do I get the best results?
- Where do I make my customers the happiest?
And then keep coming back to that and instead of trying to do a thousand things, get better and better at that one area.
When i work with clients, i usually put them through a really fascinating nostalgic little exercise. I say, “O.K., when you started out, what built the business in the first place? What action or what proposition or what sequence of activities got you to some critical mass, to a level of profitable revenue?” And then I ask them, “Are you doing that still today?”
Because usually an individual starts and he or she is the driving force and they have a proposition or a process they use that gets people on board that really gets people excited to do business with. And then they get to a certain level and they take themselves out of the process and they bring on other people to sell or they let momentum and inertia continue and they lose track of , what brought them the business and the success they achieved.
One of the things about specialization is always ask: In what area do my greatest net profits come from? From my experience running our companies, i have found that if you specialize in an area, you get better and better in that area, which means that you can get even better results faster and easier and at a lower cost than your competitors.
I think that one of the major reasons that both our business grew so quickly was the emphasis that we placed on helping our customers to resell not only our products, but also to sell their services to their customers. And I still firmly believe that concentrating on helping your customers sell more, is still one of the best ways to improve your sales.
One of the things that we did was to use a strategy called “co-op marketing” – we helped our dealers, distributors, retailers and accounts sell more to their own database of names.
So how does the strategy work ?