Preparing Your New Year Business Resolutions

Posted by John Park on Dec 30th, 2008
Dec 30

New Year Business Resolutions

It looks like 2008 will finally come to an end soon.  And, what a year it has been!
I know many of you are thinking about your New Year Resolutions this week.  And because you are entrepreneurs, your resolutions aren’t about losing a few pounds or taking a trip abroad.  Instead, you’re probably making a list of business objectives you would like to see come to fruition next year.  You are not alone.  The last week of any year is a time to reflect and plan for the challenges ahead.  Perhaps, this timeless ritual for business owners has even more meaning this year because of the current disastrous economic conditions.
Nevertheless, this is a business ritual you should not skip.  So, grab your favorite hot drink, a clean pad of paper and a pen to start the brain storm.  To help you along, here is a short list of questions so that you may come up with a simple and concise set of business goals for 2009.  Remember, these aren’t your typical New Year Resolutions, which are generally ignored by the end of January.
All of these questions require just ONE specific answer only—no novels.  The answers should not even require a full sentence.  It’s not about how many things you can list.  It’s about listing 10 specific achievable business goals.
1)  What specific business leadership style or management trait will you improve in 2009?
2)  What specific thing will you do or implement to reward your performing employees in 2009?
3)  What specific thing will you do or implement to thank your customers?
4)  What specific thing will you do or implement to generate more customer referrals?
5)  What specific thing will you do or implement to automate a cumbersome process in your business?
6)  What specific thing will you do or implement to better your sales process?

7)  What specific thing will you do or implement to better your customer service performance?
8)  What specific piece of equipment will you purchase in 2009 to better your business?  This question is for everyone and not just for manufacturers.
9)  Who or what will you do business with, affiliate with or partner with in 2009 to grow your business?
10)  What was your biggest business mistake of 2008 and how will you reverse this mistake in 2009?

A Second Chance at Making a Lasting Impression

Posted by John Park on Dec 12th, 2008
Dec 12

growing with existing clients

I had on my best (only) suit sitting amongst others also in their best professional attire.  The minutes seemed to drag on forever as I constantly stared at my watch.  The magazines were outdated and uninteresting but we all rummaged through them to kill the wait.  And directly in front of me, in a $5 frame, was a printed sign that said “You Never Get a Second Chance to Make a First Impression.”
It was 1993 and I was waiting for my interview in a headhunter’s office vying for a corporate sale position.
For some reason, that cliche phrase has never left me.  I know you’ve all heard it a million times and chances are you’ve probably used it to make a point in business.  It’s 15 years later now and I have to tell you I’ve been thinking a lot about this phrase recently.  It’s not what you think.  After analyzing this statement, I’ve come to the conclusion that this readily embraced business principle is not necessarily applicable for ALL business situations.  In fact, if you apply this resilient statement to every aspect of your business, it might even actually hurt your business prospects.
How many times have you heard… “Oh, I didn’t know you do that too.”
When we hear this phrase from existing clients, we cringe in horror.  This is especially true if they say this to you “after the fact” or after having purchased from a competitor.  If you really think about it, it is extremely naive of us to think that our clients should know everything about our companies and what we have to offer.  In most cases, your business-client relationship originally started with a single product or service.  You might even refer to this initial event as the “First Impression.”
The problem is that most business owners automatically just assume their customers know all about the other products or services they offer just because they’re doing business with them.  This is what I jokingly call, add-on business through telepathy.  Your business, the products and services you offer are in a constant state of change.  It is unreasonable for you to expect your clients to keep up with your business “just because”.  If you are a B2B business, your clients have their own businesses to worry about.  They certainly don’t have the time to research what new offerings you might have for them.
No matter how concrete the relationship or how long it has been in place, you absolutely cannot rely on “First Impressions” to generate the constant referral and add-on business you should be harvesting from your existing client base.  You must reintroduce the business again and again for the duration of the business-client relationship.  Every time you roll out a new service or product, you must let your existing clients know about it.  Again, mental telepathy is not a known business strategy.
So, stop relying on your so-called “First Impression”.  Go out there and reintroduce yourself to your clients.  Unlike a corporate job interview, you have many more chances to make another impression.
Dec 4

Business Networking

It’s that time of the year again.  I am not referring to the holiday season.  If you own a business, now is the time to consider your advertising options for 2009.  This process is typically called ad planning.
As you consider your advertising and marketing options for 2009 and as you make decisions on what to keep and what to axe, I want you to consider a few line items that aren’t traditionally listed on ad planning budgets.  These “red-headed stepchild” line items are Business Networking and Customer Referrals.  If your organization has been around for at least a few years, chances are a certain percentage of your revenues in 2008 were a direct result of Networking and Referrals.  And yet, most businesses will not budget for these two key revenue generating tools in their annual advertising and marketing budgets.

Ad planning in this economic recession is all about stopping what’s not working and doing more of what is.  In 2009, many businesses will not have the luxury of testing new advertising or marketing initiatives.  Therefore, business owners should pay special attention to how much revenues were the direct result of their business networking and client referrals.  If more than 15% of your revenues were derived from these timeless sources, it is highly advisable to make them line items on your 2009 budget.
Here are some specific line items you might want to include as part of your advertising and marketing budget.
( NETWORKING – Budget Examples )
1)  Association or Club Dues
2)  Event Participation Costs
3)  Weekly or Monthly Lunch Dates w/Clients, Partners and/or Prospects
4)  Networking Collateral (could be something as simple as a business brochure)
( REFERRALS – Budget Examples )
1)  Proper Holiday Greetings (not too late for 2008)
2)  Proper Client Thank You Gifts
3)  Proper Client Referral Thank You Gifts
4)  Referral Collateral (could be something as simple as adding a line to your e-mail signature)
5)  Client Appreciation Events (ask them to bring another business owner for networking)
As I have always stated before, you know your business best.  Only you can determine if a $500 expenditure on a Client Appreciation Happy Hour will generate more business than an advertisement at the same cost.  My point is to make sure you don’t dismiss these key revenue-generating tools as just “add-on” business.  Generating revenues through Business Networking and Client Referrals are just as important as any ad you might budget for next year.  In this economy, many will argue that it might be much more important.
I leave you today with the following statement.  It is often printed on the back of business cards in the Real Estate Industry.  There is much we can learn in the most remote and simple places.
“I invest 100% of my time providing superior service to my clients because I believe in cultivating lifelong relationships.  My goal is to provide you with extraordinary service so that you won’t hesitate in referring family, friends and colleagues to me.  A referral and your trust is the highest compliment I can receive.”

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