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In motoring terms ABS is the technology that stops wheels from locking under hard braking, which means that they do not lose grip and the car will not simply slide into an obstruction. The device has saved many lives and countless costs of repairs. It is a vital safety factor and no modern car should be without ABS.
In entrepreneurial business there is another, equally vital ABS:
Always Be Selling
As businesses develop, the entrepreneur can slide into bad habits, where he sees more of his suppliers than his customers, where he spends more time on the accounts and records than on making his products more desirable to his markets.
Although it is not as physically dangerous as being in a car sliding helplessly towards a stationary truck, it can be even more expensive in lost business opportunities or customer dissatisfaction.
When the business was at start-up stage the entrepreneur would typically have spent hours agonising over how he could compete with existing suppliers. He would have been devastated to hear of even the slightest bit of unhappiness from a customer, because each customer was desperately needed for the business to survive. He would have always been examining his marketing material to make sure it was getting the right message across.
So when did all that stop? And why?
Starting today, make a resolution that your business ABS will be in working order. Do at least one thing to improve the marketability of your products, or improve customer communication, or generate new business every day. If you find you are spending more time with accountants or production people than with sales and marketing then get out of your comfort zone and change your routines.
Spend time examining your competitors and lots of time on thinking and planning how you can beat them to the orders. Look critically at how well your company services its customers. And especially look hard at defences you may have built up that stop unhappy people, whether they are staff or customers, from talking to you.
Get out and talk to some big and small customers. Ask them what they would do for their businesses if they had your desk for a day. After the inevitable jokes about zero price and firing all other customers listen to what they have to say seriously. Start to rebuild that partnership of the early days where you would do anything to make their life easier and they rewarded you by increased sales.
Then devise some special pricing that will get the attention of old and new customers, rethink your tired old advertising, drive around looking for developing areas where there may be new customers, resolve to give out at least three business cards per day and plan a customer event.
And every now and then go out and make some sales yourself – just for the joy of it!
Source: Ed Hatton’s blog Marketing Strategy. Ed Hatton has mentored and advised entrepreneurs for many years from his consulting company The Marketing Director. He is known for his successful work with start up companies and in helping SMEs to grow and develop, and has been a Business partners Mentor for many years. He is a speaker and writer, the person behind the advice column The Start Up Coach in Entrepreneur magazine, and co-author of a textbook on entrepreneurship.