Step 0. Where are you right now?

“Take a deep breath, look around, tell me what you see…”

Simone Mareuil's eye being held open by Luis B...

Most people that die in survival situations die because they don’t take time to evaluate their current situation, take an inventory of what they have, and evaluate what they need to do first.  I had heard someone say that they remember the priorities by remembering human limits as the rule of thumb of “3’s”.  3 Minutes without air, 3 Hours of exposure, 3 Days without water.  Makes it pretty simple to figure out what you have to take care of first!  It’s the second one that catches most people off-guard.  Exposure?  Really?  No wonder so many people die in the wilderness without even realizing why.

I would re-write the rule of thumb of 3’s for business growth in the following priority order:

1. 3 weeks – Existing paying customers
2. 3 months – Increased business with existing “good” customers
3. 3 quarters – Growth of new “good” customers

Like the air that we breathe, we need the existing paying customers to “fuel” our continued existence so that we can continue to move the organization forward.  However, like the “exposure” example above, I find that many organizations want to jump right to adding new customers before they take stock of the “good” customers that they have.  Much like seeking water, if you are exposed to the elements for too long without finding the new source, you very well might die in the process.  There is a lot to be said for using your existing resources to built a nice warm “base” to work from.  Have you taken stock in your business of these incredibly rich resources that you probably already have?  Do you have any “good” customers that you could grow further?  How much further?  Do you know how to determine if any of your customers are “good” customers?

Here is a list of questions to get you thinking about where you are, what you have, and what you should take credit for:

0. How do you define “good” business in your business?
1. Which of your current clients refers other companies to you that result in new “good” business?
2. Do you have a good idea of the kinds of projects/sales that were both profitable and productive for both you and your customer?
3. Where have you made a significant impact in your clients’ business?  Do they recognize what your company has done for them?
4. Have you asked your “good” and satisfied customers to actively promote you to other companies who have needs similar to theirs?
5. When was the last time that you took your “best” customers to lunch to see how things are going and to explore where else in their business you might be able to help them?
6. Have you asked your “best” clients what you could be doing better?
7. Do you know what your company does that bothers your “best” customers?
8. What do your “best” customers want you to add to your offerings to help them buy more from you?
9. When your “best” customers describe your business, what do they say you do?
10. What would your “best” clients say if asked WHY they use you as their preferred business partner?

Interestingly, perhaps two of the most important questions to consider are “Do your clients know how to refer someone to you?” AND “Do your clients feel good about referring people to you?”

Electronic red megaphone on stand.

Electronic red megaphone on stand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As you may have guessed, and it’s no surprise, most of the questions refer to your Existing/Existing business and customers/clients.  There is typically a wealth of ideas, innovations, opportunities, additional business, networking opportunities, and other resources already available to you if you can take a couple deep breaths, take a look around, and take stock of what you already have.

Click those heels together… 😉



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