Seattle Community

Greg Marshall
Director of Community Education
Bellingham, Washington
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Keep Doing What You're Doing and Fail

If it didn't make you money in 2009, it won't in 2010.
Written Jan 03, 2010, read 1446 times since then.


Stephen Covey once said “If we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to keep getting what we're getting.” For small business owners and consultants this may just describe how 2009 went and how 2010 is going to look.

2009 was brutal for many of us.  Sales were down, potential clients were few and far between, and worst yet, many of the skills and techniques we deployed did not seem to be as effective as in years past.  From my position working with businesses, I saw many people make the same mistakes over and over in 2009. They pushed forwarded, worked harder, worked longer, and failed.  Many very smart people executed some very good plans and strategies and they failed. In some cases, failing over and over.  Does this sound familiar to you?

The reason they failed was forgetting to implement one key ingredient in their plans… change.  Doesn’t matter what business you’re in, change was and is everything now.  Change is everywhere from new sales strategies, new advertising mediums, re-worked business strategies, modified outlooks, and different networking opportunities.  If some process in your business didn’t make you money in 2009, it probably isn’t going to make you money in 2010.

Let’s look at a few of the changes I’ve seen businesses make in 2009:

  • Social Media Advertising… Many business people are starting to create fan pages on Facebook and have Twitter feeds.  Some are starting to advertise on Facebook which allows them to target their demographic and track results.  In many cases the return on investment is greater than your static ad in the newspaper or local magazine and brings you closer to your potential customers.
  • Giving Your Services Away… Many service professionals are starting to see value in giving away their services for free.  Imagine donating your professional time to a local organization that helps people in your community.  Those people you help will one day become very loyal customers or spread the word about your business.  In the last couple months, I’ve talked to life coaches who donate services through Woman care shelters, an accountant helping businesses on the edge of failure, and even my community education program is starting to do more free business workshops.  Giving to your community is a win-win for everybody.
  • Re-evaluate… I’m seeing a lot of consultants take a serious look at what they are doing, the services they are offering, and how those services are offered.  With the slowdown in business, there is time to do a re-evaluation so that you are positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that show up when the economy turns around.

The biggest change is the one most left off by small business owners and consultants. Taking time to learn a new skill.  Training is a catch-22. When times are good, you can make money with your old skills with very little change. When times are bad and money gets tight small businesses are the first to stop spending on training of any kind.  Your training budget, like your advertising budget, should not be one of the first things to go.  You can’t make changes to your business without learning new skills. Training equals change.

Your bigger rivals didn’t stop spending last year.  According to Training Magazine small businesses with ten or more employees averaged 33 hours of training per employee.  Businesses with over 1,000 employees averaged 29 hours.  How much structured training did you do last year?

According to an in-depth study done by Laurie Bassi, the bottom-line effect of 29-33 hours of training was a 2% performance boost.  It doesn’t sound like much until you do the math.  If you close a hundred deals a year, that’s an extra two sales every year.  Training is accumulative.  The more you learn, the better your performance gets.

I also believe that number can be much higher when looking at individuals instead of at a large corporation.  My opinion, depending on the training is you could see a 5-10% performance boost.  It’s hard to calculate the ROI on training but the effect is easy to see.  If you increase sales by learning to use social media, save time by learning QuickBooks, or increase your businesses chance of survival by taking an entrepreneur class, than the training was very valuable.

So, get a plan, get trained, and make the changes to your business that will lead to a successful 2010.  That’s what I’m planning to do.


Learn more about the author, Greg Marshall.

Comment on this article

  • Internet Sales Consultant 
Seattle, Washington 
Howard Howell
    Posted by Howard Howell, Seattle, Washington | Jan 04, 2010

    Greg... So true. Keep advocating education and change. ...Howard

  • Marketing Design 
San Rafael, California 
George Sandoval
    Posted by George Sandoval, San Rafael, California | Jan 05, 2010

    Hi Greg,

    Very good points.

    Keeping in mind how a new skill can help your clients has both corporate (internal) and sales (external) applications.

    Picking up an accounting skill, for instance, usually leads small businesses to post "better value" propositions within their concern.

    Using a flower shop as an example: An accounting skill can take shape within your sales, in redress of the positioning from a "better" - "The Freshest roses", to a more applicable and relevant value for consumers.

    The "better" becomes the "better when.." such as when money is tight, when little money is available, leading to perhaps a positioning and serviceable proposition such as - "Anniversary, Weddings, or Single Stemmed rose arrangements without a single misplaced tear."

    Thanks for the points, great info.

  • sales and marketing, promoting 
shenzhen, gd China 
Richard Huang
    Posted by Richard Huang, shenzhen, gd China | Jan 05, 2010


    Change is a must for the business.

  • Director of Community Education 
Bellingham, Washington 
Greg Marshall
    Posted by Greg Marshall, Bellingham, Washington | Jan 05, 2010

    Good points in the comments. Incremental change across internal business practices as well as external business practices can really help a business succeed.

    Many business owners never really got fundamental training in the art of owning and running a business... they have used the ol' sink or swim method. Going back and learning more about accounting, or more about business fundamentals can have a payoff.

    One trend that I've seen and didn't mention is more individuals working on simplicity and stress reduction. Learning to simplify your life and to remove some of the stress (or at least not respond to it) can make you a lot more productive and provide gains for your business. I have been working on these skills and I notice a difference.

  • Virtual Assistant, Recruitment Professional, Blogger 
Williston Park, New York 
Rajani Zaveri
    Posted by Rajani Zaveri, Williston Park, New York | Jan 05, 2010

    Perfect article.

    Greg, you said rightly if it did not work in 2009, it will not work in 2010..

    Thanks for the tips.