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Is Your Business Trapped In A Time Warp? 12 Signs that You Are Stuck & Will Lose Business To The Competition

Once upon a time we all lived in small towns, or at least tight knit communities and neighborhoods.  If you needed your hair cut you’d go to Kelly’s Barber Shop, you bought your sandwiches from Sub Shop #10, and the pharmacy on the corner didn’t belong to Walgreens.  Businesses didn’t have to market, network, advertise, tweet or blog about their services to get and keep their customers.  They offered their goods and services, and people came for them.  It’s how business was done.

That was then.  Welcome to the modern world!   If you think you can rely on your business surviving the old fashioned way, where people buy from you because they always have, stop and think again!  Even if you’re located in a sparsely populated burg, the town folk now have the internet, smart phones and all kinds of other techie gadgets… they can find it cheaper, better and quicker on Amazon if you don’t get your head in the game and convince them they want their money flowing in your direction.

Are you going to just trust fate?   You basically have two choices:  To be passive or to be proactive.   Obviously choosing to do nothing is about as passive as you can get… might as well throw in the towel now and save yourself the hassle and grief.  If you are immobile and stuck, you are in serious trouble.  The protective bubble you are wrapped in may feel comfy, but this cloak is indeed deceiving.  You are trapped in a time warp and will eventually lose your business to the competition.  Make sure these obvious issues don’t apply to you:

  1. RESISTING TECHNOLOGY: This is how you’ve always done things and this is how it shall be done.  You just keep it status quo and let the other guys use the new technology and processes.  Stay in this time warp and watch your clients high tail it away from you quicker than you can say 8-track tape or plastic pink yard flamingo.
  2. AVOIDING SOCIAL MEDIA: Can you say “FREE ADVERTISING”?  If you don’t have time to post things yourself, find someone to do it for you.  Take advantage of all the resources that are available.  Keep your name out there.  Let people look for YOU to see what you have to say… Don’t let them find your competitors because you don’t want to take the time…
  3. TRYING TO DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF: Why would you try to do it all?  Delegate!  If you can’t afford a staff, or if you don’t want one, at least get a Virtual Assistant to do the things you don’t like to do (or that suck up all your time!)
  4. USING A ROLODEX: Seriously?  How about a CRM or at the very least pop those numbers into your phone! Get an app like Inigo and exchange contact info with a simple text message even if you forgot or ran out of business cards! Who even has a Rolodex anymore?!
  5. GETTING THE SAME RESULTS AND STILL DOING IT THE SAME WAY: Hello… McFly!  If what you have done has been ineffectual, or at the very least yielding minimal results, why are you doing it the same way again and again and again?  Find what works!  Move on from what you have been doing.
  6. FORGETTING YOUR PURPOSE: Remember why you wanted to be an entrepreneur.  Maybe it’s time to reevaluate those goals and recall what got you onto the path of being a small business owner in the first place.
  7. NOT NETWORKING: You say you’re not a people person?  Well who do you think buys your goods and services?  Exactly!  Step outside your comfort zone and put yourself out there.   Use the opportunity to rub elbows with some people who may be able to help you grow your business.  Listen to other people… what are their stories?
  8. LIVING BY THE CLOCK: Business ownership is not for the meek.  It’s also not for the basic nine-to-fiver.  If you’re looking for a 9-5 gig, perhaps being an entrepreneur isn’t your thing.  You don’t have to breathe business 24/7, but you have to be open to the occasional early phone call or late appointment if you want your business to thrive.
  9. STAYING DISORGANIZED: Simple things like losing phone numbers, forgetting appointments and not being able to find important documentation will destroy you.  Can’t do it alone?  Get a Virtual Assistant to help you get your act together.  Don’t let your ADD stand in the way of your personal and professional success.
  10. RANDOMLY SWITCHING IT UP: Switching it up from time to time may sound like a good thing, but you need to let your ideas come to fruition too.  Constantly changing things around will not let you get an accurate feel for what works and what doesn’t.  Make sure you are constantly evaluating progress.
  11. KEEPING YOUR POSSE: Are some of your partners, staff or even the vendors holding you back?  You may love them but make certain you share the same goals and passion.  If not figure out an amicable way to go your own way.  Keeping your posse when they no longer share your dream is a big mistake.
  12. ALWAYS PLAYING IT SAFE: You need to take a risk from time to time.  Look around you.  What is your competition doing?  Why are you playing it so safe that you are blending into the background?

Being an entrepreneur takes courage.  It takes knowing when to walk, when to sprint, and when it’s time to run away from the habits that have you stuck… It’s knowing how to get out of your own way, how to move on, and how to get out of the time warp before you lose your butt to the competition.

Support The Organization That Supports Your Community

Why Join A Chamber of Commerce

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We are 5 months into a new year with new opportunities to grow and renew. But it’s also a time to look at expenses and re-evaluate where we’re spending our resources of time and money.

Among the decisions that many local area business owners will face this year is whether to join or renew their membership in our local Chamber of Commerce.

If you don’t want to support a local organization that supports you, your business and community year round then don’t join the chamber of commerce. If you don’t want to support the group that is often the first personal point of contact with an opportunity to make a positive first impression for people considering visiting or relocating to our community or the surrounding area then don’t support the The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Chambers of commerce have been around for decades.  You might say that with the Internet and social media a chamber of commerce is not needed. You might say it is not always the first point of contact for information because potential visitors and new residents can surf the web to get information on The Dalles and surrounding communities.

While it is true that people can gather a lot of details on the Internet it is also true that information may have been placed in prominent digital locations with the help of the local chamber.

And, regardless of where or how potential visitors, new business owners or residents got their initial information, the chamber often serves as the first real personal point of contact for those folks. If they have already done research and determined they might like to pay the city a visit there’s a good chance they may pick up the phone or make a point to stop by the chamber offices on their first visit for a more personal contact.

On the down side, like most investments, joining a chamber of commerce has cost associated with it. There is the cost of a membership and the potential cost of time to attend meetings and show support at public events by helping out.

Each of us needs to weigh the positive and potential negatives of joining or renewing our membership. We need to evaluate whether money spent or the time invested in going to ribbon cuttings, helping out at events like the annual NW Cherry Festival, the Starlight parade or other events is worth our time.

That is one of the positive attributes of supporting our chamber. It offers a wide variety of networking opportunities and we can pick and choose which ones to participate in. If we want to get full value for our investment we will get involved in at least some of those events and activities.

For a new business starting up the outlay of dollars and lack of available time may deter the owner from joining the chamber. On the other hand, what good is investing in a new business if there are no customers and if you are not taking full advantage of marketing opportunities.

Your firm may have a web page. You may be aggressive in your social media marketing. You may know people in town already. Regardless, there is nothing like the personal touch of meeting potential new customers and clients face-to-face and one-on-one.

The chamber offers plenty of those types of opportunities. The organization also does a lot to help support its members with publicity.

The Dalles Area Chamber of Commerce offers increased exposure for your business through its Website, its Social Media Posts, Membership Directory and through other avenues both online and offline such as photos and mention of new member’s ribbon cuttings published in the pages of local newspapers.

Even if your products or services are something a person might not need on a routine basis just the fact that you are a member in good standing of the chamber helps validate your business to potential customers. For visitors and residents alike, being a chamber member can give a business the needed boost for having people make contact when the need does arise.

Networking can be a pain if you’re cold calling. But if you’re in the same place, whether it’s the annual membership meeting, a chamber hosted ribbon cutting or monthly meeting, it is easier to make those contacts.

Being a member of the The Dalles Area Chamber of Commence by itself is not going to make or break your business. But it can be an important part of your business’s marketing plan.

When time comes to consider joining or renewing membership please support the organization that supports you, your community and your business throughout the year and throughout the decades.