Successful business owners in 2013 realize that continuous change in the marketplace creates both opportunities and obstacles to growth. There are plenty of minefields and shortcuts to navigate, but you will find you can find some ways to give your business and edge.
Government policies, regulations and oversight on the local and state level continue to create manyof these minefields to success. These obstacles create time sinks and often involve fees or fines — dangerous combinations when trying to predict income and cash flow.
But savvy and aggressive entrepreneurs & business owners look beyond the surface of government involvement. If they can gain some level of skill in administering the bureaucratic minefield, they can actually turn these obstacles into opportunity. How is that possible? Those that can stay even with changes in laws, licensing and fees will keep ahead of most of the competition. The trick is figuring out how.
Most small business owners have far too much to do during their day than stay up with governmental interference. Time is the most critical element to success if you are not undercapitalized. But there are several ways to stay ahead of the competition and I’ll share five of them right now.
- START A MASTERMIND GROUP This consists of a small number (3 to 9) business owners with similar operations to your own — with one exception. You do not have direct competitors in the group. Let’s say your are a one person PR consultancy. You might include an accountant, two or three retailers, a doctor, an insurance broker, a realtor and a restauranteur. The retailers would be divided into, say, a grocer, a dry cleaner and a computer store. You meet for coffee each week and you discuss key issues affecting business — sharing insights on local and state government regulation and administration. You’ll share marketing ideas, and maybe even leads for business. Pass around the latest business books, magazines and info on useful websites. No one of us is as smart as all of us.
- VENDORS AND SUPPLIERS Business owners are often hesitant to turn to their vendors to ask for assistance, yet these people need you to succeed. They may provide assistance in the form of counsel and advice, free resources, education and communications tools. Your growth is their future; you may find that there is a bounty of assistance from the people you buy from, whether inventory or professional services. You just need to ask.
- KNOW SOMEBODY AT CITY HALL Know the person who represents your area with both the city and the county. Know their party, how long they have served, their thoughts on business and other political agendas. It would not hurt to keep up on issues being discussed by the politicos — budget, taxes, traffic, crime and other relevant items that will affect your business. Also, get to know a clerk or two. These are staff employees who actually run the day-to-day government business. Once they have a face with a name, they are usually friendly and helpful in getting you to the right person to cut thorugh red tape.
- KNOW YOUR LOCAL BUSINESS EDITOR At least once a year, but more often if you can, call your local newspaper’s business editor and have a cup of coffee. Chat about trends and issues. Don’t pitch a story about your business, just build a little rapport so he/she knows what’s happening on Main Street. Ask questions, too. You will be suprised to find out what a great source of information these folks can be outside the paper. HINT: read the paper daily. The editor will ultimately ask if you saw the story on “such-and-such” and if you aren’t reading the paper the relationship is going to cool off fast.
- BE INVOLVED IN COMMUNITY Join Rotary. Be active with the Chamber. Get to know as many people as you can outside your office or shop. Keep a keen eye out for those who seem to have great business savvy. Information flows quickly and easily when you find a few “rain makers”.