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Most one-person businesses don't flounder because their products or services   are below par. They struggle because their owner's lack of business skills or   business practices gets in the way of being profitable.  

Are you making these big mistakes?

1. You don't tell people what you do in a way that helps them buy. People buy when they understand what they get, what problem you'll solve for them, how you'll stop their pain, or increase their pleasure. Focusing on what you'll do, where you went to school, what steps you'll take, how hard you'll work for them, won't get you sales. Letting them know what pain you'll take away, what pleasure you'll bring, how they'll feel better, be better, when you're finished will go much further in getting to yes. Sell the sizzle, what your prospect can see, feel, and experience, not the steak, the steps you'll go through, how long you trained, the effort you'll put in.

Your bottom line will thank you...and so will your satisfied customers and clients.

2. You don't know your leads to sales you consistently miss making the money you want and need to make. Knowing your ratio helps you understand what you need to do to get more sales.

Your marketing efforts will bring you potential customers.

Your sales ability will convert those potential customers into paying customers. If you are getting lots of potential customers, and not enough sales, take a sales class, pick up a good sales book, ask a buddy to help you learn to sell better.

On the other hand, if you're closing most of the qualified leads you get and you're still not making enough money, start working on your marketing efforts. Either increase the sizzle in your marketing efforts, making you look like the solution potential prospects will want, or increase the scope, the number of potential prospects you approach.

3. You aren't willing to fire customers who cost you more than they give you. Yes, we all do pro bono work for deserving people or organizations that really don't have the money to pay our regular fees. I'm not talking about these special clients.
(Unless this is your total business, then we really need to talk about what business you're in!)

Be willing to fire those clients you simply can't stand or when you can't stand the work. Continuing to work with people who aren't a good match for you, your values, your preferred way of doing business, or is meaningful to you will not support you,
your business, your financial goals, or the quality of your life.

Ask yourself if you are getting the return on investment of your time and energy in the work you are doing with each client or customer? Assess both the money and the emotional return. If either are lacking, seriously consider referring the client to a
colleague or having a frank talk about how the work is not working for you.

Then take a good look at what your service and product catalogue offers. You may find products or services that made sense when you were getting started don't make sense now. Or, the type of clients who want those products or services are no longer the type of people you want to work with.

Continuing to do work, or working with people who aren't a good fit, prevents you and your business from growing and flourishing.

You own the business. You get to decide what you do and who you want to work with.

It's your business, decide today to take one or two steps that will increase your skills or improve your business practices to increase the return you're getting from your efforts.

(c) 2004. Pat Wiklund. All rights in all media reserve. Reprint rights granted so long as the article and by-line are used intact and all links are made active.

This Entrepreneurship article was written by Pat Wicklund on 2/28/2005