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10 ways to upgrade your company in hard times

Canadian Electronics columnist Mark Borkowski offers ten simple tips to bring some sunshine into gloomy economic times.


1) Ask your customers what’s important to them

Talk with your existing customers – don’t just assume. Pick up the phone or send an email and ask, ‘what can we do better for you’re you or your company?’ In today’s environment they may have changed priorities. Your customers will be delighted you phoned. How about doing a customer survey? Using Survey Monkey or Question Pro and posting the answers on your website demonstrates you are listening to your customers.

2) Be strategic

In this downturn, many businesses are thinly funded and thinly staffed. Consequently, businesses get into the habit of reacting. Most of us spend too much time putting out fires instead of guiding our businesses efforts as they ‘happen to us’. Here is an example:

Make every action create the business you want, not the business that happens. Bring in your team and write down some strategic objectives and visualize the strategy in action. It will help your company get focused on its key goals.

Set objectives with your employees, not just your managers. Write down these objectives and tack them up to the bulletin board. Ask people if they think we are all on track.

3) Differentiate your business from your competitors

Even if you are in an age-old segment of the Electronics industry, you can differentiate it. This exercise should be done by writing down the phrase, ‘our company, a business known for__________.’ Trying to come up with a new definition that distinguishes your company for its uniqueness in 25 words of less will help you in your task.  Share this information with managers and employees. Remind them what makes your company unique.

4) Partner where it makes sense

No man is an island. That is especially true for all businesses. How can you work with suppliers, customers or complimentary companies to achieve your common objectives? If the partnership of efforts can not be articulated in a few bullet points, do not spend time on it.

5) Learn a new Technology

 

The sheer number of applications available for the electronics business, especially online applications is now so great it feels impossible to keep up with them. Do not give up because you feel overwhelmed.

Learn one new thing yourself. Forget boiling the ocean. If you have been holding back from learning how to design a brochure or learning how to upload video from your flip camera to YouTube, now is the time to learn. Pick just one at a time. Get good at whatever you picked. You will gain confidence that will help you tackle other technologies and software applications later on. Encourage your staff to do the same.  

6) Start a newsletter

Do whatever it takes to get a newsletter started. You can have multiple newsletters from different departments in your company. Remember that email is best used for communicating with existing customers and contacts. Use a simple email-marketing program such as Constant Contact, Vertical Response, or Campaigner to manage your subscriber database and compose professional looking emails. Just get started. Remember, out of sight, out of mind.  

7) Cement relationships with key customers

It is far less expensive to get a new sale from an existing customer, than to go out prospecting to close a new customer. Make sure your relationships are strong and work on them. In a recession, customers are your life vest. Consider holding an annual customer conference.

8) Automate a process

We are always running into issues when it comes to accounting and invoicing that take up more time than we like.

9) Spruce up your working environment

A cluttered workspace leads to a cluttered mind. It will make all of your employees feel better about their environment and themselves.

10) Network, network, network

Online networking has replaced over 75% of in person networking. You can reach lots of new people and start up a relationship. You would be surprised how effective Twitter, Facebook and LinkdIn can be for creating new site traffic.

What things are you going to do to improve your company this year?

Mark Borkowski, is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile is a mid market mergers and acquisitions brokerage firm. Mark can be contacted at:
http://www.mercantilemergersacquisitions.com/

For Mark’s next column, click here