Today, I came across an article that offers some sage advice for small business owners who are struggling to survive the current hard times. In “How to stage a small-business comeback,” Jane Porter of entrepreneur.com discusses three strategies that she says will help you “survive, and thrive” this sluggish economy. You can read the article yourself, but I want to add a couple ideas of my own.
Porter’s first strategy is “look outside your company for help.” Among the strategies she talks about are listening to customers and expanding your network of people who might refer business to you. I would add to this list the notion of forming an advisory board. As a small business owner, you cannot be an expert in everything and when times are tough you especially might benefit from seeking advice from outside experts. My long-time friend and colleague Susan Hammond, of scHammond Advisors, writes about advisory boards in her blog, which I highly recommend. Here’s a post on the topic that Susan wrote for my blog last year.
A couple weeks ago Susan and I had a discussion about forming ad hoc advisory boards, which bring together experts around a specific challenge you’re facing. Let’s say your marketing isn’t producing results; you could pull together a group of four or five people with expertise in this area for just one meeting. Many people are very willing to serve in such a role and for the cost of perhaps a lunch or a dinner for everyone, you’ll come away with a wealth of ideas.
Another resource I’d like to point you toward is an e-book that Laurie Breitner of Breitner & Associates (a contributor to this blog) published several years ago. It’s called “Thriving in volatile times: Get and keep your business on track.” This short e-book is a very informative, step-by-step guide on how you can improve your company’s bottom line. You can download it for free here.