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Take charge of small business' future

Ask Bob

Ask Bob

February 08, 2009|By By ROBERT A. POOR, Local chapter education director

Q: Our small business has taken a hit recently. Our bottom line has turned negative the last four months. With all the negative business news these days, do you think there is hope for a market turnaround this year?

A: Waiting for a market turnaround will only cause you to lose more ground. Now is the time to take charge of your business' future and steer your way to accelerate your future success. Take a deep breath. Start planning how you can weather this storm and prepare for times when business returns to normal.

o Utilize marketing. Strategize on how you can improve your sales volume. Consider special events to attract customers. To get free publicity from the media, submit newsworthy items about your business and your people. Collect e-mail addresses from clients and prospects, and follow up with monthly messages. Consider personal visits with existing clients to find out how their needs have changed and how your business or service can help.

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o Attend a marketing seminar. SCORE and HCC will sponsor "Marketing Strategies for Tough Economic Times" at HCC's Valley Mall Center on Feb. 26 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Presented by Janley Marketing, topics will include key marketing strategies, ways to increase sales, cost-effective marketing methods, best uses of your time and focus, and much more. Cost is $19. Call today to reserve your seat at 301-790-2800, ext. 565.

o Conserve cash. Collect accounts receivable and contact suppliers to extend accounts payable and/or improve terms. Do not add new employee benefits or pay bonuses. When necessary, consider reducing your staff.

o Get good advice. Supply yourself with a variety of experts who can add to your knowledge and experience. Advice and mentoring is free and confidential from more than 20 counselors at your local SCORE office. They are business owners and corporate executives, active and retired, who have successfully run companies. Call them today at 301-739-2015, ext. 103, or visit SCORE at www.scorehagerstown.org.

Robert A. "Bob" Poor is a local small-business owner/operator. He is chairman of the local SCORE chapter, a small-business counselor and a regular contributor to the Ask SCORE column.

Questions may be e-mailed to him at r.poor@myactv.net or by mail in care of The Herald-Mail, P.O. Box 439, Hagerstown, MD 21741, ATTN: Ask SCORE column.

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