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SUSTAINABLE SMALL BUSINESS PRACTICES

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By Sustainable Business & Living Contributor L. Denise Jackson

What makes a small business sustainable?  Using green products, sponsoring a community garden, or smart budgeting and accounting operations. 
Some of these may help your business become truly sustainable but let’s take a look at your business practices that bring in the money and sustain your profits.  Are you actively marketing, acting on opportunities, or giving up?  Well, how you respond to these three practices can determine your level of sustainable success in the business world.
Actively Marketing
Marketing is the biggest part of your business and yet people don’t do it right, enough, or position themselves properly for marketing to be effective.  Your business doesn’t have to stress you to make a sale or place you in the “get that money right now” anxiety mindset because my sales are unstable.  Marketing is not a priority to some people and they feel like they have to keep creating more things, new things to attract customers. 
Why did Jack Canfield make one million dollar from 1 book before he created him empire?  He know how to market or had people who know how to do it for him.  And it worked.
If you want a consistent flow of clients to meet your profit goals, it’s critical that you actively market effective.  Quantity is not the answer, target is the answer.  Ok, let me go further because you heard that before.
There are two things you need when you actively market to bring new leads or customers to your door and turn them into clients.  Customers can come in and roam the store and “window shop” but you want them to be a repeat purchaser and be your client.  Online one of the easiest approaches is to set up an opt-in box on your website so you can collect the names and email addresses of the people who visit your site and keep them informed, follow-up, and present your service or product.  There are some cool things to do from here that we cover in our upcoming Sustainable Business Building Intensive that can make this a pleasant experience filled with expectation for the potential client.  That trend is wearing thin for some and people are giving their new potentials the option to opt-out of giving the email address and go to the website anyway.  The next easy, easy, easy peasy way to turn new leads or customers to learn about your value, power, or influence is simply let them sample you.  You are seeing it if you are on Facebook and everywhere!  People are allowed to get a “peek” at you. Give them something.  Knowledge, teleclasses, ezines, enewsletters, BlogTalkRadio, mini services, sample items, previews, or something else you can think of that will not put you in the poor house.  
Acting On Opportunities
Successful businesses and entrepreneurs, even busy professionals that I consult are successful when they act on opportunities.  Not every opportunity but the right opportunity.  It also needs to be at the right time and in the order or system.  This is where people get foggy and the question mark over their head appears.  That fuels the momentum.  Act on opportunities can be creating opportunities, products, or new programs, or getting that website, blog, ezine, newsletter, certifications, education, conference, mastermind, 360, or collaboration active.  Not planning. Active. 
Now how do you know if you’re doing the right thing in the right order not?
One way to do that is to educate yourself about marketing and business-building.  Listen to some free introductory level telecalls so that you get the feel and can wrap your arms about what works for you and the people you are trying to attract to your product or service. The more expeditious and effective way is to find yourself a business/marketing coach or mentor who can quickly assess your situation and give you a plan of action. Do not misconstrue that sentence.  You are not talking and they give you everything and you do not have to do anything.  There is work on your part in this but they will work on giving you a plan of action, direction on how to implement, and if they are good at what they do, they will make sure their suggested solutions fit you. Once you have that, then you need to make sure you implement that plan. 
Some of my clients have taken suggested solutions I gave them an did more than act on their opportunity but exploded it!  It created another story for one woman.  Another elevated her brand and enhanced her of speakers for her company’s annual conference, which in turn attracted different attendees or at least changed the mindset. 
It is all about taking action.  So get active.  Get going.
Giving Up Too Soon
Now this last one is so heartbreaking.  I know because I have done it before and have had people to tell me to persevere and also know when to let go, which people equally do not know when to release an opportunity that is not right for them or the timing is not right.
To all of the business owners, entrepreneurs, busy professionals, coaches, leaders, and people that want to be, I will be beyond transparent with you.  Nothing is guaranteed.  Let me repeat this.  Nothing, nothing, nothing is guaranteed. 
Now that that is out of the way.  Let us get to the heart of this.  There is not a business owner, entrepreneur, busy professional, coach, leader, or person that wants to be that I know or have seen that has not had an unpleasant experience, a hiccup, a little adversity, a negative matter, issue, or problem that they had to deal with, work through or out, rectify, or simply let go.  They have been in business long enough to learn when, who, why, how, where, and what.  It is normal.  You address it, resolve it, and move on.  It does not stop you.  It should make you better.
New or want to be owners and leaders, entrepreneurs and busy professionals who are not sure, inexperienced with the matter at hand tend to get wrapped around the problem instead of redirecting their energy where it needs to be¾on the solution.  They spend a lot of time trying to figure out where the problem lies.  Is it in the product, industry, customer base, themselves?  What is it?  While that is helpful for your lessons learned, the first thing is to find a solution and then address they why.  That is another mistake made.  After it is cleared, people want to forget it.  Trust me, you DO NOT LEARN that way.  Excuse me, I did not mean to shout at you but I had to for those who are still reading but do this. 
Most times the failure is in some aspect in the marketing or the lack of marketing altogether.  Maybe they did not effectively act on the opportunity or took some shortcuts just because someone told them they were fabulous.  You may have been fabulous to a few people but not everyone you want to attract to your product or service.  There is a myriad of other easily preventable mistakes.
Now do not be scared and throw in the towel.  You can very well be successful at what you want to do but nothing has changed with the fact that there is some type of time and effort involved.  While there are stories of someone being an “overnight success” there was plenty of preparatory work that was done well before that time.  Training, planning, and so many other things including plain old hard work.  So ask for help.  Do a little more research.  Determine if you just need some tweaks or an overhaul and new direction.  You will be surprised what you think the problem is and what it actually is.
If you need help determining whether you should let an opportunity or business go or if it just needs some work, contact me for a free 20-minute consult.  Mention this article and have your consult within 72 hours.
L. Denise Jackson is the Founder of The Professional Green Network (PGN).  The PGN is an international training company that serves busy professionals and business owners that want to live and operate sustainably, as well as profitably.  To learn more about upcoming events and training go to www.professionalgreennetwork.com or progreenceo@yahoo.com like the Ideation Workshop to help you with your business ideas and turning them into viable, profitable businesses or the Business Building Intensive to help the business and the business owner operate their lives and business sustainably for their success. 

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