Installing System Updates — A Necessary Process for Successful Small Business Owners

Does your computer do this to you?  I woke up this morning, all rarin’ to go, ready to finish up some market research I owe a client on, of all things, reikki for animals (this is the small business she wants to start and by golly, I think there may be a market for it — who knew?!) and when I fired up the computer, I saw the dreaded “Do not turn off your computer. Installing update 1 of 13.”   Ugh.


My first reaction was “Oh no, what a waste of time.  There’s nothing wrong with my computer. It’s running fine the way it is.”  But then I recalled a conversation I had just this past Tuesday with my good friend Tony.  So I sat back, had a third cup of coffee and said “Okay, it’s needed.  So go ahead baby, update.”

Tony has been in business for himself, quite successfully I might add, for about 12 years.  He has a law degree, an MBA, and is a CPA.  He specializes in auditing the financial records of mid-size to large companies, often when the company is preparing for a merger or sale or restructuring.  I’ve known him for several years and he was on my “get in touch with” list.  So we were talking and he was complaining about how business has just dried up this past year.  He has laid off a couple accountants and is afraid he’ll have to close his doors.  This economy, oh dear, it’s ruining everything.

I couldn’t resist putting on my small business consultant hat, so I asked him what marketing he was doing to find new clients.

Well, he buys lists of the CEOs and CFOs of companies over a certain size and mails them a direct mail package.   He used to have a salesperson on staff fulltime who would follow up with those companies with face-to-face appointments, but his salesperson resigned last Spring and he hasn’t found a replacement yet.  So he calls, or one of the other accountants calls, when they can.  Does he go to networking events?  No, between his daughter’s soccer and his church choir practice, and his school district’s elimination of busing, he just doesn’t have time. Again, his salesperson was the one who always did that.

As a friend, I tried to gently point out that he needed to get a salesperson on board right away, that this was not something that could wait.  He said he couldn’t afford to hire anyone right now, especially since he had just let two accountants go, both of whom were both fairly long-term employees.  It didn’t feel right to hire someone new.

I wanted to be helpful, so I asked him if he was using LinkedIn.  He had heard about it, but hadn’t gotten around to it yet.  He thinks his previous salesperson was on LinkedIn, but he wasn’t sure.  Twitter?  No, he doesn’t really understand how it works.  Facebook?  That’s something kids do.  Blog?  He’s not a writer.  Every suggestion I threw out was met with resistance.

His marketing methods have provided a decent living for his family and his employees for twelve years.  In his mind, the thing that is making all the difference this year versus previous years is the global economy.  His small business is a victim of circumstance.  Success will return once the economy bounces back.

Will it?

Just like my first reaction this morning was “ugh, who needs this, what a waste of time,” I now realize that his reaction to my suggestions were actually exactly the same.  Just like me and my computer, his small business needs a system update, but he doesn’t see it.

Whether he realizes it or not, he is relying on old, tired marketing techniques.  Sure, they can work but to really perform at an optimal level, he needs to embrace new marketing methods.  Becoming a successful small business in today’s market requires a different set of tools in the marketing toolbox.  And the fact that he could leverage a network like LinkedIn and maybe achieve similar or even better results than he is currently getting from those lists and direct mail packages at almost no out-of-pocket costs … but I couldn’t convince him.

He thinks his system is running fine.  No update needed.

I offered to put together a plan for him, to introduce him to the world of Web 2.0, but he declined.  He can’t afford me right now, he says. I know where he’s at.  How many times have I hit the “remind me later” option when presented with an opportunity to update?  But eventually, either I accidentally hit the button the computer cleverly puts in the path of my cursor or I get so tired of seeing the notice that I give in and say, “Okay, update now.”

So I guess I’ll have to keep on him for a little while.

If your marketing is not performing like it used to, perhaps you need a system update, too.  Just like a computer, if you keep putting off update after update after update, eventually your computer will just stop functioning altogether, and so will your marketing.  You don’t want to wait until your small business has ground to a complete halt before you take action.

If you need a fresh set of eyes to look at your current process and made suggestions on how to improve your performance, let me know.  I would be glad to help your small business reach it’s Success Point.

See you soon.

See you soon.

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