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Six Steps to Growing Your Business in Difficult Times

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With the current economic challenges we're all facing, too many small business owners are finding their business moving in the wrong direction.

In many cases, what were once growing, thriving businesses are now heading into a downward spiral of cutbacks, layoffs, and, in too many cases, bankruptcies. Owners are watching as their customers dwindle and revenues drop. 

So, what can a small business owner who is trying to prosper in today's climate do to turn things around?

While you may not be able to do much about the nation's economy as a whole, there are proactive steps you can take, regardless of outside circumstances.

Following are six steps you can use to get started turning your business around and moving, once again, in the direction of growth and prosperity:

1. Revisit Your Compelling Vision

If you do not have a crystal clear, compelling vision for what you want your business to look like in one to two years, create one now. Without this roadmap, you'll be reacting instead of acting and, in this market, that can be a disaster. Be sure to include specific, measurable goals in the process. For example, writing "Our company is a happy, flourishing environment, with great people serving our customers and creating growth and prosperity for us all," you could add "and we are exceeding our goal of $375,000 in income each quarter." This adds a tangible measurable component to your vision. 

2. Change Your Focus

Beginning immediately, stop talking about anything that is not working. Stop defending and justifying why you're not doing better. Stop blaming the economy or whatever else you deem to be the cause of your troubles. If something is not working, continuing to talk about it will cause you to start seeing more things going wrong and continue the downward spiral. 

Ask only, "What's working?" and continue asking every day. Make a list of what is working and have your team do the same, individually and as a group. Change the tone of your meetings. If you understand that you get more of whatever you focus upon, it's obvious why you'll want to do this.

3. Fire Some Customers

This may sound crazy, especially in tough times, but if you take the time to analyze your customer base, you will most likely find that 80% of your business is coming from about 20% of your customers. I'm not suggesting you get rid of the other 80% just that you devise ways to let go of the high maintenance, low performing ones who you dread dealing with in the first place. Either let them go altogether or find a way to either automate or outsource having to deal with them. This will free up your time to devote to your "ideal" customer. 

4. Analyze Your "Ideal" Customer

Once you know who your ideal customers are, you can analyze what drives them and what they have in common. Conduct a phone survey and find out why they do business with you, what they like and don't like about your company and what they'd like to see changed. 

The more clarity you have about your ideal customer, the easier it is to attract more like them. After all, isn't that the type of customer you wanted in the first place?

5. Start Mining the Gold That's Already in Your Business

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Jim Donovan, is the author of several critically acclaimed self-help books, published in more than 20 countries, an inspiring motivational speaker and life coach. For a bonus gift and subscription to his "Jim's Jems" ezine visit his Web site.
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