It is rare to hear the owner of a midsize business say, “things are comfortable.” That is because everyone has his or her own comfort level. It is also because, by its nature, there is always tension in a business system. The tension can arise from any number of factors: sales, competition, economic conditions, or employee stressors.

Most often, intertwined, stressors require deconstruction as a first step toward freeing up thinking-space for an owner to operate in. Take sales, as an example. To improve sales performance without adding stress to the system, an owner can move a company back to basics:

  • First, look to protect the base. Examine the customer experience and monitor retention rates in relation to service levels offered – making adjustments as required. If there is a better option in the market, your customers will be the first to know. So, why not take the initiative and be the first to ask them how they like things. Take this opportunity to strengthen the existing relationship.
  • Second, make it a point of emphasis to cross-sell. Selling additional lines of business is cost effective. Use cross-selling to continue to build a trusting relationship with your customers.
  • Third, unless you “own the market,” there is a good chance you can grow the base business by finding customers similar to ones that already see the need for your offering. Every company is a little different and every buyer is a little different. Take the time (i.e., use the thinking-space provided by actions one and two above) to understand the differences and find common ground – make the connection, close the sale and build market share.

Are these suggestions too basic for you? Then add more stressors, if you are comfortable. Try some other go-to-solutions – grow sales by expanding to new types of customers or diversifying into new lines of business. It is your choice, and that is the point. When you have nailed down the basics, you are in a better, more comfortable, operating position.

Being comfortable, as a business condition, has a lot going for it. It allows you to operate from a stable platform, which provides space for experimentation and making informed incremental choices – comfortable choices. All that said, we challenge you to get back to basics – one stressor at a time!


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