How to Survive in Any Economy

By Pam Newman

What are the key fundamentals of business? Here are five things I find to be crucial aspects of success in the clients I've worked with in a variety of industries.

Honesty the Best Policy
I know it seems cliché to say that honesty is always the best policy but while it might not always be the easy way, it is the right way. Honesty with your clients, vendors, employees, and everyone you interact with helps you sleep better at night. We have all had our ups and downs in business. But when you fail to acknowledge events then it only leads to hard feelings.

If you find you can't pay that vendor bill when it is due on Friday, call the vendor and ask for an extension. Explain your situation honestly and make a good faith effort to follow through on any agreement you establish. If you find you aren't going to be at your client's on Tuesday, like you promised, don't wait for him to call you and ask you where you are. Be proactive and let him know - and be empathetic when dealing with him. If you need to cut back on employee costs, be open with your employees and ask them for help in making those cuts.

People generally understand when they know you are being honest. Deception is not easy to make up for once the seed is planted....so keep it honest.

Use a "Win-Win" Mentality
If you approach business with a win-win mentality you are better positioned for the long run. No one will stay in business long when they are all about themselves. Nor do you want the client who is all about himself and doesn't expect you to make a profit. If you are giving away your product and service without a reasonable profit you will soon find yourself no longer in business. If you are only in business to make money your reputation will soon precede you and potential clients will realize you are not the type of business they want to work with. Providing clients with a product or service at a fair and profitable figure is a win-win strategy.

Solid Financial Management
The number one reason contractors go out of business is poor financial management. Often they have a great service but they simply didn't know how to manage by the numbers. It is imperative to pay attention to the numbers and make sound business decisions supported by the numbers. What have you done lately to ensure you are familiar with what your numbers are telling you?

Constant Learning
Ask any successful business person what the secret to his success is and you are bound to hear that ongoing learning is essential to competitiveness. If you feel like you have no room for growth then you will only stagnate. Ongoing learning is key to longevity. Learning can be areas directly related to your line of business, business in general, or just life's philosophies. So find the path of learning - reading, attending seminars, teaching, experiencing new environments - that is a fit for you.

Find Your Work-Life Balance
Everyone has to find the right mix for themselves. At the end of the day though, ensure you have your priorities in line. Too much focus on one part of your life, without finding a balance for the other aspects you find important, can lead you to be drained and one day wonder what it is you are working so hard for.

Find a way to create that balance for yourself. With the advancement of technology we are fortunate to have the opportunity to work anytime/anywhere; however, that can come back to us in detrimental ways if we don't know how to "shut off" at some point.

Sometimes the simplest ways of approaching life can help us get back in touch with strong business fundamentals for success. It doesn't matter if you've been in business a year, a decade, or much longer. We can survive in any business economy by implementing these five simple strategies for life success.

Pam Newman at NPE and NPE West

Pam Newman, president of RPPC Inc., will offer her management tips and insights at both National Pavement Expo West, Dec. 9-11 in Las Vegas and at National Pavement Expo, Feb. 2-5, 2011 in Nashville.

"Getting the Most Out of Your QuickBooks" is a 3-hour contractor-focused workshop to show companies how they can take better advantage of a program most are already using.

"How Your Financial Information Can Make You More Profitable" covers not only which information to collect and the best ways to collect it but how to use that information to improve profitability.

For more complete topic descriptions or to register visit www.nationalpavementexpo.com.

Pam Newman, president of RPPC Inc. and author of Out of the Red, is a Certified Management Accountant, entrepreneur, and Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor. She can be reached at pam@rppc.net, via phone at 816-304-4398, or via her website, www.rppc.net.

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