By Ivy Cohen
This year my small business celebrates its fifteenth anniversary. Pop open the champagne because we’ve beaten the odds. According to Dun & Bradstreet, businesses with fewer than 20 employees have only a 37 percent chance of surviving four years and only a 9 percent chance of surviving 10 years.
This made me consider why some small businesses succeed while others don’t. Some may be a result of the experience and skill of the founder or startup team while others are heavily influenced by market factors, such as timing or chance.
Here are my top 15 lessons that have helped me survive and grow my business for the past 15 years.
1. Treat your customer’s business as your own.
Your time is their money so be efficient.
Many agencies use heavily designed presentations to report results or recommend strategies then bill the client thousands of dollars for design services. I typically supply these items in simple but detailed Word documents at no extra charge.
Additionally, in the event that there is a miscommunication, leading to either work done incorrectly or outside of scope, I swallow the cost of the extra work. I consider this an investment in our relationship and a learning experience.
2. Build and maintain a great network.
This will help you generate new business opportunities.
When the great recession hit several years back, many of my client contacts were laid off. I devoted several hours each week to help place talented PR and marketing professionals to find new positions. While this support was offered out of genuine concern for my colleagues, it has paid dividends with several new business opportunities coming from these past clients and colleagues.
Additionally, many of my former team members remain friendly and in contact as part of my business community. Some of my best client referrals have come from past employees.
3. Assemble a strong support team of talented professionals.
It takes a village to run a business so assemble a strong support team of talented people.
It is a pleasure and a professional asset to know a lot of talented people. I’ve built a modular team with experts dedicated to working with me on each client engagement. To make sure we are leaving no important ideas and opportunities on the table, I often reach out to other experts I know for functional expertise related to specific industries and business situations.
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*WPEO would like to thank Ivy Cohen, President and CEO of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications for providing this article.