Small Business: Risky Business

By Marguerite Moore

As small business owners we probably have a few clients who give us enough business to make us complacent.  However, what happens if we lose one or two of them?

Many small businesses have only a handful of customers or clients at a time.  If they work by themselves, they cannot take on additional work.  But some may say that It is less complicated to have a few clients, but it makes a business more vulnerable.

What are small business owners to do when a client leaves and revenues dip?  Don’t wait for this to occur.  Keep your name out there by networking, creating a blog, using social media and attending conferences all with the thought of not only learning something new, but also meeting new people and exchanging business cards.  So, if a downturn occurs you have met people who may hire you if you connect with them again.  If the client is a large corporation with several divisions, there may be an opportunity to do some prospecting in other parts of the company.

Keeping up to date regarding both negative and positive developments with your clients is key.  For example, when Toys R Us and Sears announced that they were closing some of their stores, it didn’t come as a surprise to vendors.  They had time to act to make new connections.

Here are a few good practices to keep in mind:

  • If a client is happy with your work, ask him for referrals to grow your business.
  • Never have a client who provides more than 10% of your sales. That would mean having more than 10 clients in your roster. Those clients should be diverse, that is, being from different industries, so that not all of them would be affected by a downturn at the same time. Try to make efforts to solicit more business from the contacts you have made.
  • Get out there and network at least once a week. Meet people who could be potential clients.  See what the trends are that potential clients are looking for and address them with your skills. There are many meetings taking place on a weekly basis.  To find them look at a local/regional or industry newspaper.
  • Keep your name out there by writing a blog on your industry containing information which could be helpful to potential clients.
  • Make a presentation to an industry group.

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