As business owners we are constantly choosing. Decisions are upon us all the time. We are also continuously shifting and adapting, which is why we can be the most resilient when necessary during challenging times.The key to good decision-making is in being in the right mindset. Too often, decisions are made from uninformed thinking or misguided thinking, resulting in a “wish I would have known then what I know now” regret at a decision made.
Here are five areas to consider in how you choose to proceed in 2013:
1. Profits vs. Sales: What are your goals for the year ahead? Are all your numbers focused on gross sales? What about your gross profit? What about your net profit? If you are only focusing on the sales numbers and not on the profit numbers, you may be making some detrimental decisions on how to reach your numbers. I have seen more companies than I can count that have had increased sales with lower profits, and were left scratching their heads as to why this was the case. After a bit of investigation, they were putting all their energy and resources in promoting their least profitable offerings or being consumed by serving their least profitable customer segments.
2. Preference vs. Appeal: There are many companies out there that are trying to appeal to your target customer, so it is really about what you are doing to be preferred. Are you trying to appeal right along with your competitors or are you demonstrating in your messaging, capabilities and actions why you should be preferred. Distinction for the sake of looking different is not enough to turn a prospect into a buyer. Demonstrated distinction backed by unparalleled capability is what it takes to build preference.
3. Foothold vs. Footprint: All too often I will see a company management team or owner determine they need to expand their market area when they haven’t truly exhausted the opportunities right under their noses in their existing geographic area. Alternatively, there is the company that is national or regional that is struggling because they are spread too thin not making any real mark. In both cases, the focus is on where they are doing business instead of where they can truly have impact and a dominating presence in doing business.
4. XXXX vs. OOOO: We have all seen the X’s and O’s as symbols of kisses and hugs. Let’s face it. Kisses mean love, and hugs mean like. Make 2013 about doing what you love, being the best for those you love to serve and making your company a place people love to patronize. Don’t settle for something you merely like to do in your business, because oftentimes you are convincing yourself you like it because it is paying some bills. I have lost count of business owners who were kicking themselves all the way to the bank, wishing they had done it sooner, simply by focusing on this “love” factor.
5. !!!! vs. ????: What I mean by the exclamation points is be the “Wow” versus just the answer to a customer’s issue. Sure being the answer is great, but the reality is that it is short-lived and easily forgotten unless you add a little “Wow” into the mix. How do you add WOW? You exceed expectations. Answer the phone, return calls and be simply delighted to serve. Throw in something unexpected and extra. Problem solve beyond what was expected.
One of the best parts about being a business owner is that we have the power and authority to choose what we want to happen in our businesses. Too often, we allow other influences or our own doubts compel us to make choices that are not in the best interests of our businesses for the long term or that are not taking our business as far as it could potentially go. Choose with informed confidence and impassioned conviction and nothing can get in your way.
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.