Neil F. Anderson, Founder & President, The Courage Group, Inc.

Breaking News-We are just a few days away from the New Year. And for many entrepreneurs/small business owners, the feeling this holiday season may be- thank goodness.

Overall, the economy was weak and anemic during 2013, which made it a challenge for many business owners. A challenge just trying to keep the lights on and the doors open for business. Much less enjoy any kind of significant growth.

But time now to forget about the past and now focus on the future. Time now to develop your New Year’s business survival and growth strategies. And equally as important, time now to follow through on them. Time now for more doing than talking.

Here are 10 tips that can help keep you and our small business on the right track in 2014 and beyond. Plus, help to keep you out of the dreaded small business failure graveyard.

Tip #1 Update Your Business Plan

Time now to revisit your original business plan; make some changes to your business model, which may need some major tweaking. Or, if you have never written a business plan, now would be a great time to write one. A business plan is simply a written description of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it. It is your roadmap to success.

One of the great benefits of writing a business plan is that it forces you to look at your competition. Needless to say, there are many competitors today, who are constantly trying to win new clients and customers away from you. Not to mention the fact that you have to try and figure out better, more effective ways to compete with the Internet and all the “do it yourselfers.” Hint-win by giving people more value.

Like many other entrepreneurs and small business owners, maybe you did not write one because you saw no need to do so. Especially if you were not trying to raise any money. Don’t look at writing one as a hassle; look at it as more of an opportunity for business survival and growth.

Tip #2 Market Everyday

Time now to think about how you are going to find potential clients and customers. You can have the best mousetrap in the world, but if nobody knows about you, your services or products, no revenue.

A couple of cost-effective marketing strategies you may want to try next year, get some few media publicity and form some select strategic alliances or partnerships. With the goal of generating a steady stream of sales leads, deal opportunities for your small business. But at a much lower cost of sale. And if you have not already done so, try adopting some social media strategies/campaigns.

Also, keep this in mind- when “pitching” the media for free publicity, they (the media) could care less about you and your business. They care only about a good story. Give them a good story and thereby increase your chances of success.

Plus, remember this-NSM. (never stop marketing)

Tip #3 Sell Everyday

Time now to fall in love, or re-fall in love with the role of sales. Nothing else matters unless you have some paying clients or customers. Become a “rainmaker” in your company. Or find someone who can, fast.

Time now to start winning new business by providing more value to customers vs. trying to compete solely on prices. You may also want to offer more flat fees vs. hourly fees/prices. People like knowing in advance, how much something will cost, what they are going to get for their money, and when they are going to get it. Plus, get more passionate and more knowledgeable with your overall sales efforts. Also important, do more listening than talking in 2014.

To shorten your sales process with potential clients or customers, you need to understand why people don’t buy. A reminder:

1. No need

2. No money

3. No hurry

4. No credibility

5. No trust

Tip #4 Don’t Waste Your Time

Time now to quit wasting your time now. As you already know, there are only so many hours in the day. If you are not marketing, selling, executing, and working with clients and customers each day, you are wasting your time.

Small business survival and growth depends on asking yourself this question; Is what I am doing right now contributing towards winning new customers/clients or keeping exisiting ones? If not, don’t do it.

Tip #5 Be More Focused

Time now to separate yourself from the many distractions of the day, as much as you possibly can. When asked what was a key part of his start-up and growth success, Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon.com said; “Constant focus.” Not bad advice for other business owners these days.

For small business survival and growth success, “keeping your eyes on the ball” at all times, and minimizing costly distractions still matters. Lose your focus and you may lose your business.

Tip #6 Visualize Success More

Time now for entrepreneurs/small business owners to begin visualizing success at all times, not failure. Your mind needs to know that although there will be many ups and downs, a light does exist at the end of the tunnel, and it is bright. By visualizing success, your actions will become more confident. And increased confidence breeds success.

Remember, customers or clients prefer to do business with people who are confident; knowing that buying their services and products will indeed help them.


Continue Reading 10 Small Business Survival & Growth Tips For 2014

Debbie Laskey, MBA

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In Michigan last week, the billboard below popped up off of an interstate highway near Flint:

(image, and story, available here)

It certainly isn’t the first time that an advertisement has left out, or at least obscured, the sponsor or the products. (See our own Duets Blog discussion of a Coca Cola ad with sparse information here).

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Continue Reading I’m Concerned About The Meaning.

– David Mitchel, Director of Marketing – Distribion, Inc.

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We all learn a great deal from DuetsBlog and the legal and marketing community assembled by Steve Baird and his team.  As guest bloggers on DuetsBlog, we, Debbie Laskey and Ward Schendel, recently had a conversation about the importance of strategic planning and decided to collaborate on a joint

Debbie Laskey, MBA

By now, everyone with a television, radio, computer, smartphone, tablet, newspaper, or a few friends has heard that Facebook went public. The company’s initial public offering raised an insane amount of money as well as support from countless new investors. But Facebook has something more valuable to share: five lessons