By, Denise Turner, ASID, CID, CMG
The current economic situation has knocked the wind out of our businesses. More than ever before, we need to stay focused and keep our guards up. By staying positive and being supportive allies to our associates and friends, together we will slay this fire breathing dragon and win.
1. Qi (Chi) The energy of life Negative thoughts and words physically weaken us; it’s imperative that we find healthy alternatives to stay positive.
• Limit the amount of negativity in your environment, such as the media. Negative people are the worst “Chi Suckers.”
• If you begin to complain, catch yourself and stop it.
• Play uplifting music, display photographs that capture good feelings, memories or put fresh flowers in your environment; they’ll lift your spirits.
• Do yoga, meditate or take a walk; better yet, take your dog for a walk. He will love you for it.
• Don’t have a dog? Get one! Dogs provide unconditional love. There’s nothing better than a slobbery, wet, dog kiss, first thing in the morning. Well!….there’s one thing better, first thing in the morning. But let’s not go there.
• Feeling blue? Call or visit a friend to lift your spirits.
• Feeling like Ms. or Mr. Sunshine? Call (not e-mail) a couple friends, who are having a difficult time. Limit your conversations to a few minutes and hold a positive tone. This works. My friends continuously say “Thank you for calling; you made my day”. A few minutes out of our day, to make someone’s day; how simple is that? 2. Self Defense
Be proactive; research every business in detail, before handing over any money. This includes companies you’ve been working with for years. The days of making a deposit for a product and assuming that the supplier will be in business on the delivery date, are gone. With companies having difficulty, it’s imperative you take additional precautions and cover your ASSets.
• Do your research. Ask associates and suppliers about the company you are about to do business with.
• Check with the government agencies to see if the company you are about to do business with has any claims against it.
• If the company you made deposits with, goes belly up, immediately take legal action.
• Turn on your sixth sense. If something doesn’t feel right, it most likely isn’t.
3. Snap Kick
Just because business is slow, does not mean you have to settle for bad clients. Bad client cause grief and prevent you from attracting good ones. As in taking precautions when doing business with suppliers, it’s imperative that you diligently research our potential clients.
• Keep a close eye on the retainer; when it gets close to running out, inform the clients, so that you are always working with their money.
• Don’t drag out your invoices; get payment in full
• Keep in close communication with fellow contractors on the job. See if they are being paid in a timely manner. If they are not, this is a warning sign for you.
Eliminate as much overhead as possible, while still maintaining control of your business.
• Outsource! Outsource! Outsource!
• Hire interns. You will benefit from their low cost and energetic talent; they will benefit from your experience and on the job training. If they show star quality, you have talent to pull from when your finances improve. Contact your local college; many have programs in place, with students eager to work. This is a Win Win!
5. Sensei (teacher)
Have you ever wanted to be a teacher? Community centers and colleges are continuously looking for part time instructors. Let’s not forget the vast body of knowledge you have acquired by working in this industry. By sharing your knowledge, you will reap the rewards. Who knows, you might enjoy teaching so much, that you change careers.
• Teaching is an excellent way to stay in your industry, while keep your name out there and earning some money.
• It’s a great way to meet potential clients.
6. Yin-Yang (positive + negative)
Everything in nature has a cycle. There is a time to plant and a time to harvest. This is the time to plant your seeds for the future. Use this slow time to your advantage and invest in yourself. Brush up on your skills so that you will be better equipped and more competitive when the economy rebounds.
• This is the optimum time to take those classes, which you never had time for, when your business is running strong.
• If you’ve considered studying for specialty certificates or license, this is the time.
• Want to take a class from the comforts of your home? Take a webinar class.
• Ever wanted to volunteer but didn’t have time? This is your time. Contrary to what some people believe, the golf course is not the best place to network. Volunteer with Scouts, sports, schools or your take a leadership position with your association. You will improve your community and tap into new group of potential clients that you would have not been able to do before.
7. Side Kick
“Cross Promotion” is the name of the game. Is there a company that complements yours, that you can form marketing alliances?
• If you are a colorist, connect with your local paint store or painting contractor. Set up a small display in their store to do custom paint schemes.
• If you are a drapery work room, team with an interior designer and split the booth rental fees at a builder show.
• If you are an interior designer, team with a general contractor and offer your services to realtors and banks with foreclosure or quick sell properties. You can stage them, so that they sell faster.
8. Focus What does your dream business look like? Think big! What would your projects look like? Who would be your clients? How much money would you make? Sit quietly and think about it. If you have employees, involve them too. There’s power in numbers. Then write down everything in what your dream business will look like in present tense and post your affirmations where you can read them several times a day.
• For projects, say “I have the perfect projects that allow me to express my creativity,…..and …..”
• For clients, say “I have the perfect clients who values my……,…….and……..”
• For money, say “My business is financially abundant, which allows me…….in my life”
• Create a Vision Board and put everything you desire on it; don’t be concerned how it will happen. Clip out pictures of your family and images from magazines. Don’t be concerned of how your dream business is supposed to happen. Just play.
• You’ll be astonished to see, how your focus will begin to attract your dream business.
9. Cover Your Back
When was the last time you reviewed your contracts, insurance, finances or any other legal items? Are they still viable? This is the time to polish them up.
• Meet with your attorney and other agents and ask them to support you find creative ways to fit your needs. You may be able to save you money.
• Review your expenses; you may be spending unnecessarily on your telephone or utility bills.
• Purge unnecessary files and clean your office. It will get the Qi flowing again and make you feel better.
Marketing! Marketing! Marketing! Regardless of what you may think, it is not difficult to attract “free” marketing and advertising. Yes! Free!
• Get to know the press; media relationships are the secret to “Free” advertising.
• Write articles; trade magazines and chapter news letters are always searching for articles.
• Speak before groups; it increases your visibility, reputation, and stature in your industry.
• Update your website. Don’t have a website? Then build one. Contrary to what you may think websites don’t have to be expensive. You can purchase templates to build one.
• Contact your local college and hire a graphic arts student to create a basic site. If budget allows, hire to them create a logo and stationery package.