Is Your Business Still Your Best Friend?

In 1981, my husband Ken Jacobs and I were working in the marketing department for a big high tech corporation in Washington, D.C. The word came down from on high that our jobs were being moved to a place far far away. If we wanted to preserve our positions, we would have to relocate. I immediately thought, "Sorry. No can do." We both had family and friends in the Washington metro area who are very important to us. There comes a point in your life when you have to take the risk to change. We did. It turned out to be the best thing that could have ever happened to us.


Because when you own your own business, you learn over the years that the best job security you have is yourself.

Just take a look around the marketplace today. Corporate "rightsizing" is a common occurance. Even the Federal government, which at one time was the place you could go for a "job for life" is cutting its ranks. This insecurity leaves many people feeling that they can't depend on anyone or anything when it comes to preserving their livelihoods. So many have experienced layoffs or are frightened they may lose their jobs. It's very possible that their jobs no longer give them the financial and emotional support necessary in today's world. The reality: you may have no choice but to change. But this experience, in the long run, can give you a better professional life.

If you do decide to start your own business, make it your "best friend" from the start. If you've been in business for a while and are in a "slump", which happens to all of us, review the following reasons you went into business in the first place so you can renew your business growth:

You Can Count On It

Like any trusted friend, you can count on your business to support you because you are the one responsible for making it grow. No excuses. Results are directly related to how smart and how hard you work. Like any good friend, you'll come to know it like the "back of your hand." As your expertise grows, so will your customer base. Review Dr. Robert Sullivan's article 9 Steps to Business Success for additional insight on creating and maintaining successful business growth.

It Allows You To Be Yourself

A good friend always accepts you for who you are. Owning your own business allows you to make the most of your talents and your time. We've found that the best things about owning our business is that we can set our own hours, spend less time commuting during rush hours, work from home, dress casually during most work days, spend more time together and work in a quiet, stress-free environment. This makes us more productive and provides us with a greater sense of freedom. You still need to be disciplined in order to meet deadlines, but if your work is completed for the day, then you can knock off early. Who wouldn't welcome this kind of independence?

You Can't Take It For Granted That It Will Always Be There

Your best friends will let you know when you're not paying them enough attention. Same for your business. Are your receivables where they should be? Is the phone not ringing as often as it should? Have your referral sources started to dry up? Time to wake up! It's not the economy. It's not your business' fault. It's yours. You're not paying attention to the changes in your marketplace. It's time to re-invent your business.

Here's an example: Our traditional graphics design business started to drop off when desktop publishing came into vogue. Changes in technology allowed folks to create their own marketing materials. Why did they need us? Were we insulted? Heck, no. We took stock of our talents (graphics design, copywriting, marketing) and studied the marketplace to review what folks needed. (Remember the first rule of marketing? "Find a need and fill it.") We re-invented ourselves by learning all we could about Web site design and Internet marketing. The result: 90% of our business now is Web-related. A small business is revived by accepting the changes and making the most of it.

Friends Take Care of Friends

Once you make the decision to change, opportunities show up. And it's important to share those changes with business folks that you know. The best way to do this is through personal networking.

Once we started marketing our Web design services, unforeseen opportunities appeared. I sat next to a business training friend of mine at a Tuesday morning networking breakfast we both attend. During the meeting she leaned over to me and whispered, "Hey Mary, we've lost our HTML trainer at The World Bank. Would you like to teach those classes?" Zoom-o. New business I hadn't even considered. It's our responsibility as business owners to let people know all of the talents that we have. It helps our friends to help us.

Never Give Up On Your Friend.

Our friends need us as much as we need them. Same goes for our businesses. You need to eat, to save for the future, to support yourself and your family. Your business allows you to do that, but it needs constant attention if it is going to consistently support you. If business is down, pull in the purse strings a bit. Seek your family's support in doing so until things get better. And work, work, work towards reinventing your business products and services into something new.

All businesses go through slumps. That is the worst time to give up. Hang in there. Don't be afraid to try something new, to be different, to attract attention. It's time to market! Ask your business friends about networking functions that they attend. They'll be glad to introduce you around to the business friends that they know. Review our 206 Marketing Ideas for fuel for your marketing fire. Sign on for our FREE service A-Marketing-Idea-A-Day-by-e-mail(TM). You'll receive a marketing idea a day that might just make the difference that you're looking for. Don't be afraid to shift one of the ideas you receive so that it works for your business.

Make 1997 your best year. Focus on the talents you have and turn them into something big. Make your business your friend for life.