For those of you that don’t know me. The main purpose of this digital diary is to lay down some hard learned real time lessons about the business life in an effort to provide a safer route for future travelers. Well maybe not safe, but at least a reference point for future unknown decisions that will have to be made by some yet to be born entrepeneur. Alone in the dark, waiting for inspiration. So to you I write this long digital diatribe of ideas, rants, opinions and tangents.
A wise businessman I had the good fortune of meeting once said,” Success in small business is being able to sleep at night with unresolved issues.” So true. In case you didn’t notice, our economy is in the dumper and if you find yourself in the leisure marine business, multiply that by ten and you may be in the ball park.
So I enter in my log the date of October 26, 2010. A date that finds me with few customers. God bless the few customers we have as they are getting treated better than anyone at the moment. Excuse me while I mockingly kiss one of them right now for they are the sangria of any business. As a point of reference on a business cycle timeline: in the early part of 2009(18 mos ago) we shortened our work day from 8 to 6 hours in an effort to reign in expenses. We also downsized a bit. Managing to scrimp, save, economize and just damn well retrench has proven successful. But without a steady flow of customers, most businesses eventually cease to exist. No shame in that, if you read the headlines. Major names are falling left and right on a daily basis throughout the land.
With this dim view in mind, we decided to take the bull by the horns and engage in a major market study we named “OPERATION PASSION.” Truth be told, we probably should have started this a year ago. The preliminary results of our study are in and….pause while the writer smacks his forehead. There are just fewer customers now. I would guess that approximately 35-40% of our potential(not actual)customer base has run for the hills. So what does this discovery mean to John Q Business owner? Well that is quite simple. THE CUSTOMER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD!
So assuming we already knew the aforementioned result of our study, what else can be done? This is THE question of the moment. So we have downsized. We have shortened hours. We have negotiated with vendors where at all possible. We have dove into our market and studied it well. We have initiated a major marketing attack ie; custom direct mailing, internet, and existing customer follow ups. So the answer is……drum roll please! I have no fricking idea.
They say success is where opportunity and persistance cross. I wake up everyday at around 0430 am (except Sundays) and “jump” out of bed excited about what lays ahead. Right now, all I can say is that I will continue this habit until the opportunity shows itself. That is what we do. SO I really don’t have a lesson for you. Work hard, love your customer and do the right thing. The rest is purely timing and luck. That’s it.