By Jaya Schillinger
Open Exchange Magazine, Fall 2004.
After the dot-com earthquake, it seems like the Bay Area economy is stabilizing again. During the crash, owners of service-based businesses took an especially big hit. When people were losing jobs, one of the first things they stopped buying was “luxury” services such as massage, energy work, and personal development classes. Many of the practitioners who performed those services were forced into taking part-time jobs, or decided to get out of business altogether. Maybe that person is you.
Having survived the hard times, you may be looking at getting your business going again. You’ve got your second wind. Bay Area consumers are starting to have some discretionary spending money. But keep in mind that we’re in a “bloom” and not a “boom.” One of the lessons to be learned from the recent economic bust is prudence. Hyper-expansion based on speculation caused setbacks. Just ask the “stock-option millionaires” who never saw a dime, or the owners of all those never-rented office complexes. To have a business that is sustainable over the long run, you need to cultivate it with care. In the current economic climate, it’s about quality—not how fast you can make quick buck off the masses. “Growing your business small,” goes beyond financial belt-tightening. It’s about focus, specialization, and quality.
Here are 4 tips for developing a successful “small” business:
One of the biggest mistakes I see business owners make is trying to be “all things to all people.” In trying to appeal to everyone, they become “general practitioners” that don’t appeal to anyone. Specialists are more attractive.
In trying to create “multiple income streams,” many business owners burn-out because they underestimate the amount of work involved. Wait until your main business is running smoothly before you add new profit centers.
What is the core benefit of what you do? Take any big vague words like “higher consciousness” out of your marketing materials. That may be part of what you do, but people aren’t spending their hard-earned cash on it right now. Describe the tangible benefits of what you do, in a way that is easy to understand.
4.) Be Excellent
Instead of duplicating what the big business chains are doing, think “boutique.” How can you provide excellent service? Build personal relationships with your customers and let them know you care. Don’t compete on price. Instead, offer more value within a fair and reasonable price structure.
Whether you’re starting up or starting over, it takes a lot of energy to create a business. Instead of spreading yourself thin with meaningless action, take the time to get clear first. What do you really want to offer? How can you simplify your business? Once you’ve decided what direction you want to go, put all your energy there. As you become rooted in excellence, not only will you hold up to the winds of economic change, but you’ll attract more business because you’ll stand out from the crowd.
© 2004 OPEN EXCHANGE • P.O. Box 7880, Berkeley, CA 94707. (510) 526-7190
Jaya Savannah - Chief Inspiration Officer. Strategy Coach for Holistic Businesses. Trainer, speaker, and writer. Spiritually aware, yet street smart. Elephant lover.