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
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.