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    9 Replies Latest reply on Oct 19, 2007 7:20 AM by MCameo

    Making my small business profitable

    AustinIT Newbie
      My computer service business is in it's third year. It has grown from just me with a handfull of friends and relatives as clients, to two full-time employees and a clientelle list of over seven hundred names. I have built the business from the ground up, always re-investing it's income, therefore have never had to rely on outside investments or loans. The company is stable with close to 80% of our business coming from repeat clients, and the rest from a long-standing yellow pages ad and occasional referrals.

      The growth trend seems to have stalled over the last twelve months. The company is covering it's overhead (labor costs, taxes, utilities, etc.) Fortunately, this is a home based business, so it's overhead (minus payroll) is fairly small.

      My question is, what can I do to pump up our volume? Is there some magic bullet that will push my comapny to the next level financially? Will I have to go into debt to do it? Any advice, tips, shared experiences would be GREATLY appreciated. I am at a crossroads, and do not know which way to go.

        • Re: Making my small business profitable
          BetterBiz Newbie
          I own a business growth and development company and partner with one of the biggest business growth experts in the world, Chet Holmes. We host webinar events every week that address the top 12 core concepts proven to grow any business. It is a $99 event that you don't even pay if you don't think it is worth it. This is an educational event for 2.5 hours that would be well worth your time based on what you mentioned. To learn more about it go to Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

          To your success,
          • Re: Making my small business profitable
            Faerie Wayfarer

            There is a blog called Duct Tape Marketing - it's actually a group of blogs that is geared more toward service businesses such as yours. Do a search - I have it as part of MyYahoo feeds and find some very useful articles there.

            There is no magic bullet - and even if there were you might not want it. (What would happen to your business if the bullet disappeared?). Marketing is usually a lot of little things that add up - word of mouth, a growing web presence, selective advertising, target solicitation, blogs and other online publications, client newsletters, etc.

            What are you currently doing now to market your business? Now what can you add - either new marketing activities or increasing your current efforts?

            Are there business partnerships you could form that would bring in new clients?

            Can you expand your service offerings to your current client base?

            Just a few general thoughts that might help.
            • Re: Making my small business profitable
              WEBillions Adventurer
              Sounds like you need to do something locally to remind people that you exist. Fliers in some techie places would be a good cheap start. See how much it is to set up a booth at a local fair and have fun promo items to attract people to your table.

              Can you do anything locally that might drum up some free publicity?
              • Re: Making my small business profitable
                DomainDiva Ranger
                Cliff Ennico's Book " Small Business Survival Guide" has been an invaluable resource. Also you can print up cards and hire people that will put these cards on doors. It works.

                How about providing service to schools? you never know when a service contract will be up for renewal in a school district.

                Interesting that your business has stalled around 8 months after the Vista launch. I am wondering if new product offerings affect your part of the business as much as the retailing end?

                How about putting up marketing materials in office buildings...lawyers and doctors have huge amouonts of money invested in technology these days.
                • Re: Making my small business profitable
                  AustinIT Newbie
                  Wow! All great suggestions!

                  Thank you all so much for responding. Your suggestions really have me thinking!
                  • Re: Making my small business profitable
                    LUCKIEST Guide
                    You have gotten some great answers and I have another.
                    Have you been to the SCORE web site.
                    They have FREE Business Training Workshops and Seminars on
                    Marketing, Advertising, Public Relations, Sales Strategies, Customer Service
                    and many more. SCORE is a great ASSET.
                    Finally maybe you can find a friendly newspaper reporter who can write
                    an article about you and your business and how you are helping ________.
                    Good luck, LUCKIEST
                    • Re: Making my small business profitable
                      cardsender Newbie
                      Networking is always the best way to meet new people and possible clients for your business. Join a BNI, Chamber etc. Always make sure you appreciate your current clients (send Birthday cards, Thank you etc.) and ask for referrals from them. It is always easier to get more clients from you existing business, because they know you and appreciate your service!
                      • Re: Making my small business profitable
                        mpoweringu Wayfarer
                        A lot of great advice has been given here and I agree with a lot of what has been said in terms of focusing on local school systems. They will ALWAYS look for the better deal when it is time to renew a contract and they are ALWAYS long-term contracts (I know a company here that has 2+ year contracts with our local school system.) Chamber of Commerce meetings and other networking events are good, however, maybe you need to differentiate your business a bit more and offer some sort of additional service that catches the eyes and ears of potential customers.

                        I'm talking about Value Added Services. You are in the perfect industry for adding additional, small-cost services that can bring you BIG business with additional customers. Do some research and see what are the major problems plaguing PC users today (especially in a business environment) and offer an additional service focused on solving these problems! Even though this new service will be just a low-cost additional service to your normal service offerings, it has the potential of bringing you new customers who then might start using your regular services.

                        Value Addes Services give you potentially new offerings that can grab new customers who then in turn could become repeat customers!

                        Hope this helps!

                        • Re: Making my small business profitable
                          MCameo Newbie
                          Dear Austin:

                          Congrats on those 700 names! Now get to work and work them! As a real estate agent, I know that a database of 700 people has the potential to yield me 70 new clients every year. CALL (and mail) all of your past clients/sphere of influence every quarter. Offer them something of value when you call/mail them... a computer tip or some other bit of information you have that will help them. When you reach them by phone be sure to thank them for their past business and ask them if you know anyone else that could benefit from your services.

                          I've also learned that when 65% or more of my business comes from past clients and referrals, my growth is limited. If you have hit this sort of plateau you need to talk to more people you don't know. Find a niche and work it. For example, real estate agents have an increasing need to get wired and more computer saavy, yet personal instruction is hard to find. So why not call them? You can visit all the brokers in your area and ask the manager if you can speak at the next sales meeting to discuss your services.