Thursday, February 02, 2012

2012 Economy - More of the Same for Small Business

Small Business Owners - Predictions for 2012 Economy - More of the Same - What you can do!

Do not depend on an economic uptick to save your small business bacon in 2012.  It just isn't going to happen.  In fact, if anything, we may find ourselves headed into a double dip!  The current economic situation is so precarious that any hiccup could bring down the house of cards.  And, unfortunately, between the Eurozone, Iran, Oil, and our current government, plenty of potential hiccups are known.  Then there is always the unknown. 

So, let's figure the odds are for a flat year.  What should you do about that?  After four years as a marketing consultant during a recessionary period, and having now been a part of the daily situation with over 200 businesses during that four years, here are my thoughts.

Plenty of the businesses I am working with are well up in sales.  In many cases, they are up in sales year over year for the entire 4 years.  You see, your small business may be effected by the ECONOMY but in truth, you have your own economy that is very much more under your control.  Here would be a list of things that I believe are determining whether or not you will grow in this next flat year.

1.  Your Attitude - Your attitude has to be positive and that needs to be reflected to your staff.  This consulting business started in 2008 with NO Money and lots of personal overhead.  Our first year we did very well.  But year two was 50% above year one.  Year three was another 50% above that.  And the first quarter of 2012 has bookings as of the end of January that will double 2011.  My attitude could not be negative or I'd be collecting food stamps. 

2.  Salespeople - You have to have someone or several people on board who can sell.  I mean that are great at it.  If you don't, fire somebody to make room for a real salesperson. 

3.  Customer Service - Yelp and Google Places are killing companies who don't have great customer service.  I have clients who are paying the price.  If you have grumps or angry people talking to clients, don't let them do so any more!!!!  Then hire someone to clean up your Yelp Reviews.

4.  Bottom Line Profits - Are you making money?  Do you know if you are or are not?  You have to be profitable in these times.  You need to have cash in the bank.  If you aren't profitable, raise prices, sell more, and/or cut costs. 

5.  Be Visible Online - If you aren't showing up on page 1 of searches for keywords critical to your business, you will be out of business.  Don't rely on so called SEO firms.  You need marketers who will help you have massive online visibility.  It isn't enough to have your website and Google Places well placed.  That can change in five minutes.  I've seen it over and over.

6.  Connect with Your Clients - Email is easy and cheap.  You need to be maintaining a conversation with your clients with monthly or bi weekly emails. 

7.  Think outside the box - New products.  New lines, Black instead of white, green instead of orange.  New packaging.  Contests.  Events.  Second location.  Close a bad location.  Move.

8.  Social media -  For most of you that means YouTube and blogs.  It will probably mean Google +.  It will probably not matter much about Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In.  There are exceptions, but that is my current thinking.

9.  YOU MUST BE Mobile - Your website must look great on Smart Phones.  It can be done for under $1000.  Almost all of you have 15% or more of your customers looking for you on Mobile.  By then end of 2012, that will be 30-50%.

10.  Get an outside adviser to help you through this stuff.  I see 2012 as a game changing year.  Don't get left behind.

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