Business Building Lessons

Thanks to Sandy Berkshire of Stuart’s House of Vacuums, Billings, MT for pointing out the following article.

Consultant Stacy Karacostas has written an excellent article called “Business-Building Lessons Learned in 2009: What Highly-Successful Small Business Owners Are Doing that You Can Do Too”. The title’s a mouthful but the article offers some very good advice on surviving and even thriving in our current economy.

The article promises ten things that successful entrepreneurs are doing but delivers only nine.  I guess that’s further evidence that the economy’s a mess.  Maybe the government’s imposed a 10% tax on internet lists.  Yeah, I’ll bet that’s it.

Anyway, I encourage you to read the article for the details, but here are the bullet points with some added commentary from yours truly.

1.  Forget about the state of the economy. I’m not sure you can entirely forget it, but don’t dwell on it, especially the emotional, mental part.  You have to look and act successful to be successful.

2.  Offer something new. People need something exciting in their lives.  Make your business exciting by adding new products, or just remerchandising your product line-up.

3.  Stop guessing. Ask your customers what they want.  Then give it to them.

4.  Embrace technology. More on this later.

5.  Build your list.  Use your customer list to build up your business.

6.  Provide value. I would add to this one, let your customers know about the value you provide.  Don’t be afraid to blow your own horn.

7.  Embrace mixed media marketing.  You can’t build a house with just one tool.  Use the whole box!

8.  Keep learning. Your customers are getting smarter every day.

9.  Stop doing it all yourself. If you haven’t already, read Michael Gerber’s “The E Myth Revisited.  If you’ve already read it, read it again.  Focus your efforts on what only you can do.

I’ve highlighted numbers 3, 4, 7, and 8 to create  MTS’s number 10.   Get out there! Get online.  Get on Facebook.  Get on LinkedIn.  Use all the tools at your disposal to find out what your customers want (3).  Use Facebook, or the brand-new Google Buzz to create a community of people who are interested in what you sell and then talk and listen to them every single day (4, 7,8).

You hope your customers are talking about you in a positive way.  If so, they’re probably doing it through social media.  If they’re talking about you in negative terms, they’re using the same social media.  Either way, you must be part of that conversation.  (See Retailers, What to do About the Internet.)

I guess I’ll add a number 11 and a number 12.

11.  Under promise and over deliver.  Nuff said.

12.  Keep on keeping on.  If you’ve been watching the Olympics you’ve seen stories about athletes who keep coming back even though they’ve failed many times in the past.  It’s called persistence and it’s the difference between a gold medal and a long, lonely trip back home.

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