Guest post by Kathy Jensen, president of Capture Consulting Group. Kathy has worked over 15 years in the IT industry for software start-ups and Fortune 500 companies (serving both public and private sectors). Her involvement in vertical markets like telecommunications, healthcare, and Internet security has shaped how she helps businesses reach solutions and their best practices. She can be reached at www.LinkedIn.com/capture.
Timing is everything.
So you’ve decide you want to start your own business when your friend reminds you that this is the worst economic downturn since The Great Depression.
(Green light ‘We Have a Go’ image by The Rocketeer, Creative Commons)
Does that mean companies will stop doing business? No. They may tighten their belts and refocus their spending, but in order to survive companies must continue to reinvent and grow to stay profitable regardless of the economy.
Enter the entrepreneur.
Now is the best time to start-up a business as companies are looking for faster, cheaper ways to do more with less and let’s face it, consulting services are easier to pay for than a full-time salary. Don’t quit your day job until you really get up and running, but in the meantime leverage your contacts, the Internet and network everywhere you can to get plugged in to the target areas you want to focus on.
Here are a few key tips:
Keep a positive attitude.
Just watch the news and the world is on the brink of destruction.
So try to ignore the daily negative vibe that comes in as the banks, auto industry, and Wall Street continue to restructure.
Make a choice to have a positive attitude and focus on effective actions that keep you out of the downward fear spiral.
Instead spend your time focused on nurturing and developing your relationships. Remember, negativity is unproductive.
Create a business plan.
Your business plan should provide a framework that identifies your mission, purpose and target market. Try to write your plan from an investor’s perspective so you can clearly articulate your potential customer’s characteristics, your business value and the personality of your business.
Once you have that clear description, share it with everyone you know including your friends and family. Don’t assume they know what you do and who you do it for, because they probably don’t know. Most business connections are still made through friends and colleagues so make sure you get the word out.
Identify tactical goals and create metrics to track your progress — then celebrate your success.
Find your power circles.
Network online and in real-time.
If ever there was a time to network, its now. Make the most of every gathering and actively participate in industry or professional groups to get your name out there and make new contacts. Many associations have advisory boards that include a wide spectrum of professional expertise that is available.
Use these “Power Circles” since they are knowledgeable about your business environment and can connect you with information needed to make good decisions.
Join social networks and communities online to share information and see what others are doing in your field. Recognize that a business slow down provides the opportunity to focus on building relationships since you now have more time to meet with people and stay in touch.
Build strong relationships and collaborate with others.
Solid relationships withstand the test of time so make sure you make good choices when working with customers, prospects, and business partners. Look for other start-ups to collaborate with on special projects where you can share and benefit from each other’s services. Form alliances with vendors and closely aligned products to strengthen your customer base.
With the right partnership you can reach a broader spectrum of possible customers and now you have more to offer.
Make customer satisfaction a priority.
Your customers pay your bills in any economic climate and keep you in business during a downturn. Show them the love and treat them well because without them you wouldn’t exist. Spend time listening to feedback about your services and expand or make changes where needed.
Take the time to talk with key customers about how to improve your services since a happy customer is a life-long customer. Do whatever it takes to keep your current customers loyal and to position yourself to win new customers.
Contribute where you can.
A contribution means doing or sharing something that enhances another person’s business or personal life without expecting something in return.
Offer your advice and expertise by writing a blog, submit an online article or contribute to an ezine.
Take advantage of free PR and market yourself everywhere and anywhere possible. By sharing your knowledge within your circles you build your creditability — allowing you to become a trusted advisor. You’d be amazed how you will reap the benefits of these efforts plus it makes you feel good to give back.
Finally, remember everyone is being affected in some way by this economy so you’re not alone. Try to keep a positive attitude, have a strong action plan, and concentrate on building long-term relationships and you will succeed no what the economic climate.
More from Kathy:
Here are just a few sites for great business tools and marketing information.