Or is the future a place to which you are just going?

There is no doubt that in difficult times some people sharpen their wits, and think more constructively. They have to, if they are to survive. And it probably accounts for the reason many fortunes commenced in the Great Depression of the 1920s and '30s. Similar successes have arisen out of other and more recent economic downturns.

So where will this leave you in these current economic conditions?

Put simply, you make your own luck. And in making your own luck you will change yourself in terms of your own capability and skills, and your personal visions of your future.

The challenges you will face as a small business owner and manager in the year ahead are certainly greater than you are likely to have faced so far in your own lifetime. But with these challenges come opportunities, opportunities to create your own future. The alternative is to be lead into somebody else's future, and to accept the inevitable consequences.

So here are five steps to create your own future.

1. Concentrate on your key customers

Who are your key customers? They are those customers in market niches which provide the majority of your profits.

Key customers will be buying from you more frequently and in larger amounts than other customers. They do so because you meet their needs; solve whatever business, personal, emotional problems they have. They trust you and believe they have developed a relationship with you.

So in these times you will want to preserve this relationship, nurture and protect them, and ensure that your competition doesn't get their hooks into them.

2. Prepare Plan B

What could bring you down, despite concentrating on your key customers, is if their business or their industry is adversely affected by the current economic conditions. It may not be good enough to just rely on customers coming through the door.

Customers coming through the door may slow to a trickle if the economic conditions badly affect their business or industry.

So have Plan B.

Plan B is to have identified markets that are doing well,
or are likely to do well anyway, and the potential customers in these markets. And to have worked out how you are going to service them.

3. Understand your business

Really understanding your business will help you both nurture your key customers, and how to service Plan B customers.

Doing everything in its proper time with the data to support a little thought and analysis will go a long way to protect and improve your position at times such as these.

You will make better and more effective decisions if you are in possession of some facts and data.

4. Ensure your marketing is effective

Ineffective marketing is a waste of your time and money. There is just one justification for your marketing, and that is SALES. If your marketing is not achieving sales then it has cost you time and money for no return. Yet another profit leak.

Now is not the time for shotgun promotions. The medium you use needs to be targeted at your key customers, and not every Joe, Jack and Jill in the population.

Make sure your sales message gets and holds your prospective customer's attention, and then leads to action.

5. Build your systems and procedures

All the really good businesses have good systems and procedures. Not just scraps of paper to thrust at a new employee saying "this is how we do this", but properly documented procedures, well laid out, and readily available.

The chances are that you have established sound procedures, particularly if you have been in business for a few years. But equally the chances are you haven't documented them. Documenting your procedures ensures that you make fewer mistakes which have to be recovered.

These five steps will get you on the path to create your own future
, and change both you and your destination in the process.

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© Copyright 2010 Adam Gordon, Profits Leak Detective

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