November 2008


Hopefully you have a plan for disasters within your personal life, as much as we can really plan for these things. This would include placing important documents in your fire proof safe, having all important account information in a place you can access if you can’t get to your home, and a plan of escape for your children or pets, but have you made a plan for your business? Did you really think it through beyond having an offsite backup of your data?

I ask this because one of my clients actually encountered this dilemma this morning and is now re-thinking their entire plan.  During the very early morning hours there was a wide spread power outage in their area. The entire building was without power and phones were down. They were confident that they had backed up all data and were not going to lose valuable information because they had a plan in place.  The one thing that they didn’t consider was the fact that all employee information was stored in an online account, that they could only access through their company intranet…which was down.

Take the time to protect your business from all disasters, whether major or minor. Have a plan in place for business continuity, and possibly a back up to your back up. Good continuity plans will ensure very few business interruptions and allow business to resume as quickly as possible.

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With the reports of Circuit City and DHL this morning, it has some more nervous than ever.   DHL has announced that they are shutting down all ground transportation. DHL was quoted as saying that they are hoping “to prepare the company for economic challenges ahead”.  On this same morning, Circuit City announced that they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

So in light of all of the changes in our economy, how are you preparing yourself both professionally and personally? 

As a small business owner and operator, I find myself trying to gather all information and taking a good hard look at my plan.  In times of recession, it is very important to do the following:

  • Live within your means – learning to live and work with less is very important as the economic recession continues
  • Pay off all debt and build savings – attempt to pay down as much debt as possible while still building your savings account. I have been attempting to pay cash only when possible for personal purchases, and also keeping the business purchases to “must have” only
  • Enhance customer service – be sure to keep your current customer base satisfied
  • Review and revise your business plan – you should already do this annually, as the New Year approaches, it may be time to make important changes to reflect the current economy
  • Be proactive, not reactive – it is very important to plan and not panic

So what changes will you make today to ensure your safety and security?

As a business owner you will wear many hats and have many responsibilities fall on you directly. At times you may get so caught up in the day to day business that you fail to realize you can’t do it all yourself.  Finding the right business support is essential to your business success. To assist in your process, try to assess your workload.  Deciding what needs to be done and whether you will be able to outsource it will help you get a clear idea of what type of help you will need.

Outsourcing or subcontracting is a great way to get the help you need without the responsibility attached to hiring a part time or full time employee.  The individual or company you partner with is a professional. You only need to discuss the scope of the project, the desired end result and your business support partner will take it from there. 

As you are organizing your thoughts initially to outsource a project or multiple projects, you will want to do the following:

  • Make a list of your everyday tasks
  • Identify those that need to be done only by you and those that can be handed off
  • Determine if there will be a significant savings to you by delegating

Customer service should be as routine as paying the bills or ordering office supplies. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but its very important to incorporate a personal touch and maintain it.  One advantage of being a small business is that it’s easier to respond personally and within a reasonable amount of time.

Proactive resonses versus reactive

Reacting to questions and concerns is extremely important in any client relationship, however being proactive is equally as important.

  • Keep your clients apprised of their account and project status
  • If you are going beyond a deadline, be sure to let them know in advance

How software can help with customer relationship management

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is very important to any business regardless of the size.  From solo entrepreneurs to large corporations,  This technology can help improve customer service and customer contact.

CRM activities are generally performed by sales, marketing and service professionals.  Customer Relationship Management can be the one thing that keeps your customers loyal. Implementing CRM in today’s market is non-negotiable.