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It’s the little things that sometimes count the most

For many Aussie businesses 2010 was a tough year and at the moment it looks like 2011 might not be any better for some.  But I want to share with you some ideas that make things a easier. Sometimes it’s the little things count! Here are a few ideas to get you thinking…

At the top of the list is “attitude”.  The first few weeks back at work often sets the mood for the whole year so being positive right off the bat will help open your mind to solving the problems that are making things difficult.

Realise that other businesses (and consumers) are in the same boat as you are and they are looking for solutions to problems too. So use your market knowledge to refocus your products and services to address those problems and your sales pipeline may improve.

It’s also useful to focus your sales efforts on customers that can afford your services. This isn’t about being rude to tyre-kickers but you only have so much time to spend on sales prospects. If the prospect just wants to haggle on price or demands a discount, they may not value your services. Don’t let this get you down because if you are selling solutions to common problems, there will be other customers willing to pay a fair price for them.

My next tip is about “discounting”. Try to avoid it as a marketing strategy because it immediately screams, “I don’t value my own services.” And it also makes profitability much harder to achieve. Retailers are a good example of this. Have you noticed that over the past 12 months discounting has become a daily occurrence? This has just trained shoppers to never pay full price.

We now move to “technology”. In today’s world of social media, emails, instant messaging and always-on devices the power of a face-to-face meeting has been forgotten. It’s still the best way to maintain relationships and the fresh air will do you good!

Broadening that tip, it’s important to get to networking events. Yes those meetings in a dingy bar that were all the rage in the ‘90s before the internet glued people to their screens. They are a great way to meet new people, share experiences and even expand your potential sales base. Networking has moved on from the ‘90s and the dingy bar is now optional.

There is a saying that if you keep doing things the same way, you should always expect the same result. The best way to break this cycle and solve some of the perennial problems facing your business is invest in some training or education. It doesn’t have to be a three year uni degree – there are many short course options from small business coaches, business colleges or TAFEs that can give you a new skill to improve your business.

The penultimate tip from me is to take a holiday. Maybe not next week, but many small business owners forget they need to recharge the batteries in the middle of the year. It doesn’t have to be long, but it should give you the opportunity to take a complete break and switch off.  Leave the electronic devices at home with a note to all that you are in a remote jungle with limited access to human civilisation.

Finally, don’t forget to celebrate the successes! Running a small business will always have its highs and lows, so the best way to keep being positive is to celebrate client wins, new staff hires or objectives reached and remind yourself of the great things you have achieved.

Do you have any advice or tips to share with fellow business owners?

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith

Julian Smith is responsible for MYOB’s corporate affairs, government and public relations in Australia and New Zealand and is also New Zealand general manager. The qualified lawyer has spent much of his career at large multinationals in a range of senior legal, sales, marketing and customer management roles. Julian is a regular keynote speaker and business commentator and sits on a number of government and industry boards and advisory panels. Julian can be found on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/JulianTSmith">@JulianTSmith</a> or contacted via email Julian.smith@myob.com

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