Get your staff involved. Your staff may be inundated with negative job news and economic reports, but it’s up to you to keep them focused on company growth, despite the turmoil. “It’s too easy to get down in a recession on the business and personal financial fronts,” says Calloway. “Talk realistically to your employees about new opportunities. Everyone can help form the groundwork for a strong recovery.”
Take baby steps. Getting into a new line of business or targeting a new market can be overwhelming if the task isn’t broken down into digestible chunks. If your marketing plan includes calling on new customers, for example, take the time to come up with a list of prospects and enter them into a database (for ease of adding notes and updating information at a later date). Review the list and figure out how many new clients you should call on daily in order to meet your monthly “new sales” goals. “Commit to calling on two new customers per day,” says Calloway, “to avoid getting overwhelmed and giving up.”
Don’t fall in love with your ideas. You know that your new product and service ideas are great, but is there a market out there that agrees with you? “The marketplace will ultimately tell you if it’s a good idea or not,” says Calloway, who advises entrepreneurs to test products before introducing them to the market. Use focus groups and informal surveys (Web-based options can be affordable and quick) with existing and potential clients to figure out if the idea is viable.
Shake it up now, not later. “Whatever you are thinking about doing right now should be handled with a sense of urgency,” says Calloway, who sees too many companies taking a relaxed, “wait and see” approach in today’s economy. “There’s a natural tendency to wait around for things to get better, but now is the time to shake things up.”