If there’s an important “one” in your business, you don’t have a business. You have a project that may or may not continue to make money.
Especially in times of rapid change and uncertainty, “one” is the enemy.
There’s no stability in one. Which does a better job of keeping its tires on the ground–a unicycle, a bicycle, or an 18-wheeler?
Don’t wobble around by trying to balance your business on a critical “one,” or even a “two” or “three.”
One strategy for lead generation
If you exclusively use Google AdWords or SEO to find new business, what happens when Google changes its algorithms overnight?
You can ask the thousands of businesses that went under the last time they did it. It’s called a Google Slap, and it comes with no warning and no apologies.
If you only use direct mail, what happens when we get another anthrax scare? Same answer as above. No one opens envelopes from people they don’t know, and you get no new business.
Even referrals, wonderful though they are, can’t be your sole source of finding new customers. Find a new way to bring leads in the door and implement it, even if you do so on a very small scale. If your current lead generation strategy dies without notice, you’ll have another faucet that can be opened up any time you need to.
If losing any one of your customers would cripple your business, you have a major problem.
I don’t care how much they love you. I don’t care how much they need you. Your customer can die, go bankrupt, outsource to Indonesia, or just fall in love with someone else.
If your biggest customer calls you today and tells you the relationship is over, what’s your plan? What system do you have in place to create more big customers?
What systems are you creating to sustainably scale your business, so you can handle 5 or 10 or even 100 big customers?
Have a credit card merchant account? Get a second account with another provider. If one freezes your account for 60 days because you made too much money too quickly (it happens, especially if you do business online), or their server goes down or their service starts to slip, you can instantly make the switch to the second provider. Small increase in monthly fees; large improvement in the stability of your cash flow.
This goes for your graphic designer, your copywriter, your computer person, even your employees. Cultivate a network of first-rate freelancers you can mobilize when you need to execute a great new project.
Create redundancy in any systems that are critical to your success.
I don’t care how you do it, chasing down a new customer is expensive. It’s expensive in time or money, and usually both.
Your real profit starts with the third sale. Your marketing cost has dwindled to pennies, and you’ve created a foundation of trust that allows you to charge premium prices (provided, of course, that you deliver better-than-premium value).
You can work through nearly infinite cycles of “what’s bugging you / here’s a solution” with your existing customers. It’s incredibly cost-effective, and it’s also just more fun than constantly hitting up strangers.
If your raving fans don’t have any way to give you lots and lots more money, you have a problem. You also have a very exciting opportunity.
Brian Clark is kicking off a series today about collaboration in the 21st century. You probably know that I’ve been fortunate enough this year to work closely with Brian myself, and I’ve learned an amazing amount.
Brian knows that partnerships are the key to taking his own talent and know-how and multiplying their effects exponentially.
You’re not good at everything. In fact, chances are you’re not even barely competent at everything.
And even if you’re a DaVinci who masters everything you put your hand to, there’s only one of you. Restrict yourself to what you personally can get done and you’ll leave lots of money on the table.
Working with partners is also just enjoyable. Let’s face it, your family and friends have no idea what you do. 98% of the people you meet think business is black magic. Finding like-minded partners and fellow entrepreneurs will build your confidence, sharpen your thinking, and open your mind to all kinds of amazing new ways to grow your business.
One plus one equals a lot more than two. Start nurturing a network of potential partners you can call on to execute new projects. There are folks out there who will let you solve your customers’ problems in all kinds of fascinating new ways.
Those partners really want to meet you. Open yourself up to finding them.
7 Dumb Things Small Businesses Do
- #1: Deciding You’re “Just Not Good” at Marketing
- #2: Going Without a Business Plan
- #3: Getting Upside-Down
- #4: Thinking It’s About You
- #5: The Worst Number
- #6: Ingratitude
- #7: Following the Herd