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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

What to do when everything is going wrong

Your phone has stopped ringing. Your backlog of work is near zero. And with the gloomy economic news around everywhere, you don't see much hope for the future. What should you do?

I posted some basic survival strategies in a previous entry, pointing out that if you are really good at what you do, you should be able to survive even the hardest times. This requires you to be in the top 10 to 20 per cent of your speciality, niche, and overall talent. If you are just 'average' in the current circumstances, you will struggle and should think about redirecting your energies to where you are truly great -- and truly enjoy your work. (I know, easier said than done, when you are looking for food for your family, now, but vitally important if you want to be in business for yourself and truly make it through the difficult environment.)

Still, whatever business you are in, you need paying customers to give you enough work to continue, so you must be resourceful, thoughtful, and diligent in tracking them down. Here are some tools and resources you can consider in finding business when it seems none is to be found.

Former clients
Probably your best opportunity. Take a list of people you have done business with in the past, and who really enjoyed your services, and call or visit them. See if they have some little things they need done; and while you are with them, listen to see if they know others who could require your services.

It's hard rock, its painful, and it can be demoralizing, but you will find a few people out of a few dozen who can use your services. It also keeps you busy.

Public works/rehabilitation/community service projects
You should check with your community/town and see if there are state/local funded rehab funds available. You may need to go through some paperwork, but you could win some useful work. This is more likely to succeed if you have some connections within your local community government -- check with your council member or someone politically connected for insights on the ins and outs of public works opportunities.

Here, you come up with something new, creative, innovative, and adventurous -- and set out to promote it with free publicity. Audacity can work here to help you stand out from the crowd. Keep an eye on innovations in other communities, and copy liberally, or come up with something on your own.

Your best and most likely source of answers is within your previous client base/network.

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