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Posted: Tuesday, March 2, 2010 12:00 am

Here are the top 10 things successful business owners are doing in today’s economy:

1) Forget about the state of the economy. Pay attention to how it changes your customers’ buying behavior, but don’t let the gloom and doom get you down. If you sell products or services that are truly helpful or useful there will always be people willing to buy. Small business owners are leading the charge to help turn this economy around. We need to do this one business at a time. Be positive and move forward.

2) Offer something new. If people aren’t buying what you’re selling, but they used to, that’s a sign something needs to change. The knee-jerk reaction is to simply cut prices. But that devalues what you offer. Instead, try adding value by creating new packages out of products and services you already have or update what you are offering. Even better, bring something completely new to the table – conduct a workshop, write an article, sell a new product or product bundle, partner with other businesses that complement what you are doing. Think “out-of-the-box” – this will help you stand out.

3) Stop guessing. Find out what your prospects, clients and customers want then give it to them. Do this by surveying your people in person, by using a short, written evaluation, or via e-mail using a no-cost service such as Constant Contact. The Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber has teamed up with Constant Contact to be able to offer a free trial of their services.

4) Embrace technology. The World Wide Web is no longer the Wild, Wild West, but there’s still plenty of room to make your mark. And all the social networking tools make it super cheap to market your business effectively. So get out there and give it a go. It doesn’t matter the size of your business, every business needs to have a Web presence. You’ll expand your customer reach, get your business wisdom further out into the world and maybe even discover it is fun. The chamber offers classes on Web sites, social networking, along with experts to bring you up to speed on communicating with potential customers.

5) Build your list. You need a list of past and current customers, as well as a list of prospects, that you keep in touch with. That way people get to know, like, trust and remember you. You can do this the old-fashioned way by collecting contact information over the phone or in your office or store, then sending out print materials. Or, you can do it the modern way by having an awesome offer and sign-up system on your Web site, then staying in touch via e-mail. Become a fan in social media to help attract and keep others updated on the latest happenings in your business. Collect business cards. Everyone you meet is a potential client. Even if they are not ready to buy right now, it is the relationships you build today that will bring them back.

6) Provide value. The days of the pushy salesperson are going, going, gone. Nowadays people don’t have extra cash burning a hole in their pocket. So they expect good value for their time and money. Focus less on selling your products and services and more on how you can be a helpful problem solver in all your marketing and you’ll get better results. The Ahwatukee chamber is one of the best values for business today.

7) Embrace mixed-media marketing. Silver bullets don’t exist when it comes to marketing. Instead of focusing on one media or tactic, create a strategy and plan that uses as many as you can to reach your people. For example, send postcards, letters and gifts, write a weekly e-newsletter, host monthly seminars, post articles, audios and video online, write a blog, go to live networking events and more. Get involved with your chamber. It is the No. 1 place to do business in Ahwatukee.

8) Keep learning. Times and technology are changing fast. It’s up to you to stay on top of what’s new and what’s working now. But you can’t do that if you’re always buried in your business. Attend a “Brown Bag Lunch” seminar at the chamber. These are quick 90 minutes of learning with guest speakers with easy tips to implement in your businesses today. Attend our weekly Marketing Tips Morning sessions. It’s free. Wednesday mornings at 7:30 get 90 minutes of marketing tips with questions and answers to your specific business.

Not a morning person? Try our Business Builders Group – the first and third Tuesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. You will learn hands-on business tips from a two-time International Business Coach of the Year over your lunch hour. Best of all: It’s free.

9) Stop doing it all yourself. This is a biggie. The people I know who have successful, growing businesses and fulfilling lives have figured this out. And it’s even truer in the Internet age.

Face it, you don’t have time to become skilled at doing everything it takes to market, grow and run your business – especially online. Eventually you’ll hit a wall, business growth will stop, and you’ll be exhausted and burned out.

The solution? Even if you don’t have the money to hire an employee you can afford to contract services out. It is like having your own personal assistant. The chamber can help provide you with referrals to help you revamp your Web site, set up and manage your blog or e-mail newsletters, handle your social networking, automate your marketing and much more. Check with the chamber first on whom we would recommend. Don’t take someone’s word for it. The chamber has the answers you need for your business.

10) Don’t forget to advertise! We all get caught up in social media, new ways to communicate but we sometimes forget the most obvious one – our local newspaper. Your local newspaper can provide you with key insights to what the Ahwatukee community is all about. It is important to build relationships with your local reporters and sales people during the good times and really rely on their expertise and knowledge in the lean times. New chamber business members receive exclusive free advertising for your company. Some restrictions apply. Help keep the local economy growing and advertise in the newspaper.

The Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce is committed to growing our local economy one business at a time. Building Business. Building Community.

 

Terri Kimble is president and chief executive officer of the Ahwatukee Foothills Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at Terri@ahwatukeeChamber.com.

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