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How to boost your business in tough times

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In tough times its important to review your business and see how it can be improved in order to ride out the storm and be improved when things recover, especially in the personal services industry.

A few years ago I heard a well-known personal investment expert (no I was not listening to myself!) address a wealth-building seminar. Instead of talking about investing in blue chip shares for the long-term, he made the point that owning your own small business is a great way to get richer than the average Aussie.

I was thinking about this lesson while I pondered the recent downward trajectory of shares. At the same time I noted how I had not seen my neighbour’s car washer recently. The two events are possibly related.

You see, my neighbour is a busy professional whose business has done well with a booming local and international economy. He’s so busy, I presumed, that he did not have time to wash his car and thought it a better use of his time to get a specialist whose hourly rate is a lot lower than his.

It could also be a reflection of the modern day desire for business people to have a better life balance.

Now it might only be a coincidence that I have been out on Sundays when the washer did the job, but I reckon as stock markets undermine the value of businesses and decrease the rewards paid to executives and others down the corporate tree, the personal services industry will suffer.

This industry has been a fast-grower after 17 years of economic growth on the trot. In fact, the aforementioned finance guru actually pointed to the personal services industry as the likely business area bound to explode in the modern era and he was right. 

Recently, I took some time off overseas to write a book on the Greek Island of Sifnos. I know, I know, it is a tough job but someone has to do it and it is always easier to complete these tasks when there are few interruptions.

While I was there I caught up with the BRW’s Rich List article and analysed the source of wealth of the top 100 wealth builders in Australia.

What stood out is that starting a successful business and investing in property was commonly identified as the key reasons for success. 

One guy who saw what my investment expert saw, and has created a massive personal services business, has to be Jim Penman of Jim’s Mowing. His company’s expansion and others like him but smaller have been on the back of demand for house cleaners, landscapers, pool cleaners, dog washers and much more.

The ABS says there are 120 services and operations in their definition of personal services. Many of them are often associated with home-based businesses, which as a group has exploded since the last stock market crash of 1987 and the recession that ensued in 1990.

For those in a personal services improve the quality of your spend in areas such as marketing and training as the best businesses often increase their market share during rough times.

Many businesses can look good in a boom, but its the professional operation that has set big goals and has created a plan to make it happen that turns an economic threat into a business building opportunity. 

  • Ensure you have goals and a business plan. If you have a destination, it’s easier to ride out the bumps along the way.
  • Continue to market your business during a downturn. How will potential customers/clients know about you unless you let them know you exist?
  • Continue training during tough times. This will ensure you are ready for when things pick up again.

Work on your business, not in it. To learn how, book a complimentary business assessment today with a Switzer Business Coach.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.


Published on: Monday, May 03, 2010

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