What to do with your business during the economic meltdown?

Make good use of your down time by:

1) Create or update your business plan.

2) Take a look at your marketing strategy. Do you have one? When was the last time you updated it? Are you making the best use of free/nearly free social networking venues like LinkedIn, facebook and the various discussion boards of online communities? Everytime someone views your profile, your website or your blog, you have marketed yourself.

3) Now create a marketing plan. This is an actual agenda of events you’ll take part in, periodicals you’ll advertise in, press releases you’ll send out, workshops/conferences/etc. that you will use as a vehicle to get your name and your business out there.

4) Customer service. Have you followed up with your best clients lately? Who can you send a card to say thank you, happy birthday or I miss you to? Your past clients would love to hear from you and know that you’re thinking of them. While it’s quiet, take the time to thank them for their business and welcome them back. Follow up with your newest customers, too. How is the product or service they purchased from you working out? Also, consider going the extra mile and providing some advice, tips, encouragement for these new customers to make them glad they purchased from you rather than your competition.

5) Something new: Consider brushing up on some new area of your business. What can you learn? Can you find out more about a new product line, or learn some tricks with new technology that can support your clients? Is there a new product/service/strategy that would help free up your time for you to spend doing the thing that makes you successful?

6) Become an expert on what your competitors are doing. Don’t reinvent the wheel; research your competition and look for some new ideas that you could bring to your customers. If it worked for them, it will likely work for you.

No doubt the crazy economy has many entrepreneurs, business owners, well heck–nearly everybody–a bit nervous about what’s coming next and worried about how to survive while the pool of money to spend on our goods and services is shrinking. It is critical for businesses to focus on their top priorities and spend some of their down time doing actions that serve those priorities.

When business is booming, we seldom have time to create or update the foundational systems of our business that keep us growing and running smoothly. There’s no better time than the down time to check in on these systems and fill in any gaps. The suggestions above are a good place to start looking for what needs to be updated.

One note of caution: Before you start filling your down time with classes, research, writing thank you notes, networking, catching up on the latest technology, etc., remember to consider your top priority. If your #1 goal for the next month is to get new clients to generate income, do the actions that will lead to this result first. These are called “high pay-off actions” (HPAs). Do these actions first everyday or every week. Perhaps you spend two hours each morning attending a networking meeting or calling on some old clients. Once you’ve done your HPAs, then you can allow yourself to take on some of the other actions. Always do your HPAs first.

What are you doing with your business during your down time? Have a strategy or an idea you’d like to share with others? Want some feedback on whether or not an idea you have makes sense? I’d love to hear from you and will respond to all comments. Good luck!

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