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How to perk up the next six months
By Jim Kendall | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 6/17/2010 12:01 AM

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Six months are left to make 2010 the year company historians will describe as the one when your business's rebirth took hold. In case the going still is slow, here are some ideas that may help perk things up:

• Kick back. Take remaining employees out for lunch, or have lunch catered in, to celebrate that the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be the doorway to the future, not an onrushing train.

• Create an advisory board. Advisory boards have no real authority. They advise. But, because a good board will be made up of individuals who have a stake in your company's success, their advice should be worth the cost of, say, a quarterly dinner.

Pick people whose business insights you respect and whose experience fills gaps in your own. An accountant might work. Maybe an attorney. Consider a marketer who understands how the marketplace has changed. Search for someone with the ability to think outside your industry.

Keep the board to no more than eight people.

• Visit your counterparts at your most important customers. The face-to-face contacts will be nice, but your primary purpose will be to assess whether the recession has weakened key customers.

If so, the meeting might be the place to announce your new 50-percent-upfront billing policy. That's a policy that will take some thought; remember, however, that the goal is for your company to make money, not to finance another business.

• Take a good look at your marketing-sales-business development strategies. Whether retail or B2b, your customer base has changed. Review the new situation and determine the most cost-effective way to sell your services or products. Your website and e-marketing probably need a redo.

The media have changed, too; some should be dropped from your advertising plans but others perhaps should be added.

• Selectively add staff. There's an expense issue and some risk, depending on how fast your business is coming back, but there also are some good people who are available and who may have skills your business needs.

Think about older workers who may not need a full-time position with benefits. Also think about fresh graduates with enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn.

• Look at acquisitions. You may be able to pick off plum products or market segments.

• Share your ideas. I'm not a big believer in detailed business plans, but I do believe in the benefits of at least jotting down a list of goals - i.e., where you want your company to be six or 12 months from now. Then share your thoughts with your advisory board, key employees and family.

As good as you are, others may have good ideas, too.

• Questions, comments to Jim Kendall,

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