If you are hearing a whooshing noise above your head this week it might be the sound of March quickly flying by. In fact, almost one full quarter of 2010 is in the books and now would be a really good time to take an honest look at what you’ve done so far this year to meet your personal and business goals.
One of the problems many small businesses and self-employed one-person firms face is the up and down of sales versus delivery. When you’re the person responsible for both sales and delivery it is easy to get into that kind of a cycle which is deadly to cash flow.
I’m guessing you already know that if you’ve been working at this for any time. So, what’s the answer? Here are a few to consider:
- If you sell services stop selling your time (by the hour billing) and start selling the value you bring to the project. You can’t make more time and you’re probably already working plenty of hours. But, you can bring more value to projects and when you do then you deserve to be paid for the value you bring. The key is to agree with the decision maker as to what value you bring and how it will be measured. Then you can both agree on a price that is fair for both of you.
- If you’ve grown and now have staff working for you then you can spend more time marketing and selling. Get out of the office and out with your customers and prospective customers. I’ve never understood people who have their largest lifetime investment in their business spending their time in the office. Or, worse, spending their time in the office micro-managing the people who are producing for them.
- Hire the best you can find, pay them like they are the best (since they are) and get the hell out of their way. Now you can go do what you’re supposed to be doing and that is marketing and selling.
- If you’re using some of the new marketing techniques like social media, blogging, etc., please develop a strategy around how you are using them. And, make sure you measure the results.
- For all my life I’ve been amazed at how people just don’t follow-up. And, too often, they don’t even do what they promise. They will spend money on bricks, mortar, equipment, and stuff. They’ll spend money on ads, trade shows, and entertainment. They will hire a consultant to give them processes to follow and then they will sit back and wait for the money to come in the door. If you’re a small business owner and you’re only in it for the money, I think your chance at being exceptionally successful is slim.
- You still have to do the work. And, I’m not talking about busy work. You can spend hours a day on Google or whatever on your computer. Unless that is part of your sales and marketing process and you complete the entire process, you’re deluding yourself.
- Separate yourself from everyone else. Do it with the most extraordinary service, quality, speed, and products. Make it fun to do business with you. Make it an experience to remember. We had major storm damage in our home this past weekend. The first company to arrive to take a look at mitigating it arrived with flowers that are still on our kitchen counter. They are now on their 4th day of working for us. Nobody else brought flowers. I bet they spend over a $1,000 a year on flowers. They will more than recover that on this one job.
- Stop doing business as usual. Forget what you did last year, the last five years or the last twenty-five. What are you going to do this year that is focused not on how much you can save on flowers but on what marketing and sales ideas you can invest in that will let you hit those goals you set back in January.