Do one thing and do it well. Do it better than anyone in the area. Do it better than anyone in your county. Do it better than anyone in the state, or even the nation. Most business owners make the mistake of being in too many different businesses at once, and for most of the 1990s I was one of them.
It’s amazing how easy it becomes to justify buying a $10,000 copy machine to cut down on your print-shop bills when the payments are just $89 a month. Or to expand the line of products you sell to your existing client base beyond the areas of your core business. While clients may trust you with their billing, they may not trust you with their office supplies or vice versa. Focus on being known for one concept and build your business around that core value.
Go to any large company and try to find a phone number you can call and actually speak to a human being. Most hide behind FAQ pages that seldom seem to answer YOUR UNUSUAL QUESTION. They hide behind “contact us” with a drop-down menu of choices, none of which actually matches your issue. If you do find an 800 number to call, it’s usually a voice mail sending you back to the website or an endless loop of choices you can’t actually execute because you don’t have the 15-digit code they want (in fact that’s why you’re calling).
When clients want to get hold of you, they want to do it now. Few things are more irritating than calling a service provider and being shuffled to voice mail automatically, with little or no indication whether the person you are looking for is in the office or traveling through Kenya on safari. I made a huge leap in business and customer service at my karate schools when I bought a cellular phone and answered my phone sixteen hours a day instead of eight.
Once a series of solutions has been generated, the next step is to prioritize each possible solution based on vital factors, such as time, money, effort required, and resources available. Cunningly Clever Entrepreneurs have a unique ability to identify which idea will make the greatest possible difference, in the shortest possible time, using the least amount of resources, both financial and human.
Before making a final decision, ask the question “What’s the worst thing that can happen if I make this decision?” Once satisfied that the rewards of your decision outweigh the risks, take ACTION! Do not procrastinate on making a decision; procrastination is very often the enemy. Few problems grow better with time, most grow in size and complexity.
There are lots of concrete things business owners can do to measure the performance of their businesses. You can measure profit and loss, the number of clients you have, your market share, or the number of widgets that you can produce in a day.
These are all important measures that can be seen in black-and white reports, but there are other less tangible items that should be also be measured.
Other than the very obvious problems of stretching themselves too thin, both from a cash flow and talent point of view, the number-one reason that causes second locations to fail is simply the lack of business systems. When an owner opens up a second store, he or she naturally assumes that the second store will be run just like the first. The only problem is they forget that you can’t be in two places at once.
Business methods and protocol that the owner takes for granted are not followed at the second store, or if the owner opens the second store, they soon go by the wayside at the first location. With systems, this cannot happen.
Listen to other people’s problems because problems are often opportunities in disguise—especially the problems of the customers and clients you serve. In every problem there is an expression of a need. Needs can very often be translated into additional products and services for your business.
For example, many of my golf course clients in Florida were asking where on the Internet they could advertise their websites to golfers in the Northeast so they could persuade them to visit their courses in the winter. At the time there were no good options, so I created some by building an Atlantic City Golf portal, a New Jersey Golf portal, and others. This allowed me the opportunity not only to help my clients, but also to sell them ad space on my Northern sites to help them drive traffic back to their sites.