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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time To Renew

By Terry L. Brock

Writers are on strike. GM just turned in a $39 Billion loss for the quarter (ugh!). Ford Motor Company is celebrating that it only lost a little over $300 million --- in contrast to billions last year at this time. The US Dollar continues to fall to record lows vs. other major currencies. The subprime mortgage mess has so far claimed the jobs of top CEOs at CitiGroup and Merrill Lynch, two stalwarts in business. As I write this oil is flirting with the $100 a barrel magical level. And President Bush just upped the debt ceiling even more. The US is now over $11 trillion (not billion---trillion) in debt. And I won’t even mention Iraq and all the controversy there---let alone Iran and the potential for disaster waiting.

What is going on?

We’re facing some serious problems and it is time to re-examine both our businesses and our personal lives. Will Bonner and Addison Wiggins warned us about this in their book of a few years ago, Empire of Debt. We can’t treat a new credit limit and the ability to “break in that new credit card” as income. Sales and increased earnings trump credit limits now more than ever.

So what is a small business to do? And what can you do personally, to be ready for whatever happens as a result of what is happening?

In a word---plenty.

It is time to renew. Time to go back to the basics of building a business. Yes, we know this but we need to be reminded of it. The story is often told of the great football legend, Vince Lombardi, who on the first day of training would gather his tough, burly, seasoned football pros in a meeting, hold up a football and say, “Gentleman, this is a football.” Going back to basics is one of the first steps to correct a problem.

For business, this means addressing the needs of customers and examining what we do. This morning I re-read Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan’s great book, Execution in prep for this column for you. The fundamentals of getting the right people, laying out a realistic plan, following-through and being business-minded make a lot of sense. It is easy to get fat and happy when things are rolling along smoothly. The successful businessperson knows we have to reinvent regularly.

Here are some steps you can take in light of today’s troubling news that can help you now and into the future:

  1. Recognize Reality. It is time for some serious, no-soft-peddling analysis of where you are. The old WOTS Analaysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities) is imperative for this. I recommend to my clients to do it annually, usually around New Years. Beat the Holiday rush and do your WOTS Analysis today! Benefits to accrue with proper execution!
  1. Listen To Your Customers’ Pain. Find out where they are hurting and how you can relieve that pain. They are going through similar challenges and you can provide new, creative solutions for them. But you have to ask first, then listen---carefully. Get rid of your old ideas of what worked before and focus on what they are asking for now.
  1. Devise Realistic Plans. As Bossiby and Charan told us, stretch goals are worse than no goals when they are unattainable. Be realistic in your plans. Then be diligent and doggedly persistent to reach those realistic goals.
  1. Focus On Relationship Marketing As Never Before. Your future business will come from the people you know or people you meet. Tailor your Relationship Farming to those ways that help you sow the right crops, nurture the crops, weed out the “weeds” of business and prepare for a new harvest. Don’t forget the importance of simple phone calls, hand-written notes (please---too much email today!) and personal visits. Yes, we’ll use email and web-based information but don’t rely on that exclusively. Focus on customers. Relationship Marketing will help pull you and your business through anything that happens in the future.
  1. Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow. This great Fleetwood Mac song from the 70’s is true today. Focus on how you can first make yourself and your business optimal. This is a good time of year to renew, refresh and reeducate. Then get ready to charge into a world of abundant opportunities. In the midst of the challenge, the opportunities are enormous.

Embrace the principles and the technologies that can give you an advantage. Clean up the sloppy areas of your personal life and your business. Put yourself into a “Mental Bootcamp” This time of renewal for yourself and for your business can only help no matter what happens in the future.


Terry Brock is an international marketing coach and columnist who helps businesses market more effectively, leveraging technology. He shows busy professionals how to squeeze more out of their days using time-honored rules and practical technology tools. He can be reached at 407-363-0505, by e-mail at or through his website at

Copyright © 2007, Terry Brock, All Rights Reserved Internationally. No portion may be reprinted or used without prior written permission.