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"Movin On Up . . . Moving Your Business to the Next Level"
By Christine Corelli   Printer Friendly Version

Whether your business is relatively new and in its "start-up" stage, in its "building stage" or in its "established with steady revenues" stage, you know that if you wish to enjoy long-term success, you must consistently seek methods to help you to propel your business to greater heights. More importantly, you not only need to learn new ways to grow your business, but to take action on these ideas--hit the thrust button, and propel your business forward.

Sounds exciting, doesn't it? And it would be great if, just after you've hit that thrust button, you could see immediate results? But lest you have unrealistic expectations, that's just not the norm. Business growth takes time.

What many entrepreneurs need to do is to "slow down in order to speed up" - taking a long hard look at the current status of your business; determine where you want to be, and know when and how to take action for further growth and development. Here is where it helps to have the innate ability to look at your business from the "eye of an outsider" - to detach yourself emotionally and view the business as if you were a consultant who has been brought in to help define specific areas for improvement for where your business is at the time, and make a plan to help expand it to higher performance and profitability.

Here are some key things to ask yourself when you are ready to make the push to move forward:

  • Where are there opportunities to expand our services? What more can I offer? Could I provide an additional service? Can I produce a more specialized product? How will I accomplish it?
  • Do we have a marketing system that operates like a "well-oiled machine" on a consistent basis? Do I know my customer base and have I fully tapped into that market? Are we calling on every potential piece of business out there? Are we using the Web to learn what other markets we may tap?
  • Do we need a new approach to our sales efforts? Are our marketing materials Web Site working? Are there different media we haven't tried? Are we getting referrals?
  • What have we done to differentiate ourselves and our business from the competition? Do my customers know why we are different from the competition? How would your customers answer, "What's different about (your company) is...?"
  • Am we consistently working to improve our products or services? Are we solicit feedback from customers to discover what they want and need from us? Do we have a high level of Employee Involvement and do they regularly contribute their ideas?
  • What do we need to do now to reach greater heights? What skills do our people need? What will give us the best chance for quick results?
  • Do we provide quality service to our customers? How quickly do we respond to customer inquiries or requests? Is it easy to do business with my company?
  • What is the reputation we have? Do we operate with integrity? Are we "Upfront and Honest" from Day One?" Do we "Under promise and Over deliver?" Do we have fair pricing? Do we ship on time?

Here then, are ideas to help propel your business to greater heights:

Expand your services.

Are there other products or services you can offer that compliment yours? For example, if you own a placement agency, can you offer training for companies on how to hire and retain quality employees? If you own a garden shop, can you offer classes on gardening? If you are a machine-tool distributor, can you offer financing services?

Get your marketing system to operate like a well-oiled machine.

Any business owner who thinks that marketing is simply having a great brochure and Web site and handling inquiries is probably missing many opportunities.

You know the importance of target marketing. You may need to find the specialized markets for services you offer and create multiple versions of your marketing materials designed to attract customers in those markets. Customers will feel your service has more value to them if it addresses their unique concerns.

Publishing articles in your industry publications or a newsletter of a prospective customer can help in your marketing efforts. For instance, if your expertise is in construction equipment, you can write an article on "what to look for when purchasing heavy duty equipment."

Be different.

Competition is a fact of life, and you should welcome it as an opportunity to keep your own skills sharp and your sales team's skills competitive.

You need to get the customer's attention so that you will stand out amongst other competitors. Take the time to check out the competition too!

Consistently strive to be a better company than you are.

We've talked a lot about marketing and expanding services, but let's not forget why you were "asked to the dance" to begin with. Consistently work toward getting better. You must have an obsession for turning in the best product, and the best performance - with every customer, on every order, every day.

Determine what additional skills you need.

Determine where you need work, and take advantage of industry seminars or other skill-building opportunities to help with those skills.

Provide outstanding service to your clients and to bureaus that represent you.

Your clients as well as the bureaus that support your business need you to follow up on a timely basis, with a dependable and sincere desire to help. You need to be willing to work hard for them, help them in any way you can, and keep them informed so they don't have to worry about your presentation or details.

Develop solid business relationships with clients, bureaus, and colleagues and establish a good reputation.

Your customer is buying your reputation and your good name. They are buying your credibility, and other people's opinions of you and your business. You must have integrity in business and be professional at all times.

Relationships, like business growth, take time. In fact, in the speaking business, business growth is all about relationships. Spend time each day on developing and strengthening those mutually beneficial relationships that will breed success. Drop a quick note to a client and include a clipping of the latest business article you've read. Follow up at regular intervals to see how the customer has progressed since your program and help troubleshoot any problem areas.

You started your business because you enjoy being an entrepreneur. If you are to grow, however, you need to take the time to analyze your own business and look for opportunities to expand your marketing, your services, and your skills-your value.

It takes a bit of work. Looking at these areas may be a bit out of your "comfort zone"-after all, your expertise may be in designing, or equipment, or landscaping-but if you make the effort to develop your business, you'll find that the results will be very rewarding not just for you, but your customers as well.

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