May 28 2014


Small business owners, doctors, lawyers, accountants, consultants, and sales reps…


It’s all about what you DON’T say!


It’s what you don’t say that makes a sale, that brings in new patients and clients and customers. Try sharing this bit of wisdom with any fast-talk car dealership or mattress store (the most distrusted U.S. businesses) then step back to get laughed at… which, all by itself, should be sufficient to convince you.

It’s true that being on the sales end of the spectrum in any given conversation, presentation, meeting, or conference, carries with it the responsibility to pay attention more, listen more, and shut up more! I’m not always smart enough to DO it, but I try because I think the old axiom that we should listen 80% of the time and talk 20% is true!

Besides forcing me to listen more carefully, the 80/20 formula enables me to be more patient with others and myself. It also prompts me to be more concise, more to the point — we inevitably choose our words and examples more carefully when we do take our 20% slice of a discussion.

People buy from knowledgeable people who excel at active listening. We like to hear –or at least I do– about what we don’t know when we ask for it but, Boy! I really resent the intrusion on my time and mindset by those who flaunt it when I plain just don’t care? Talk does not cook rice!

Oh, and how about those who simply pay no attention to my verbal, facial, and body language signals? How do they miss my scowls, my squinted or rapidly-blinking eyes, my folded arms and jittery feet? Ah, then there are those who stare dumbly into space, or at my shirt collar, shoes or hair (or lack of), or their own hands or feet?

Or, yikes!… their wristwatch!

How many times have you—as a prospective customer/patient/client—been scared off by a know-it-all sales rep/ doctor/ lawyer/ accountant/ consultant? You know the type. “Everything is under control, my friend” (not a particularly ingratiating line from a friend I’ve never met). The great sales asset of genuine empathy is an entirely different matter.

Perhaps you’ve heard someone tell you: “Don’t worry. Be happy.” Worse yet, that was the song my former CPA played on his outgoing phone message. After producing an April 14th “minor” ($10,000) “IRS payment that needs to be paid with tomorrow’s taxes,” you’ll surely understand why I referred to him as “former.”

Instead of hearing and responding directly to my purchase interests and concerns, I get tons of information I don’t care about. And how much do you love token, dismissive head nods offered as pathetic attempts to pretend to be listening, but serving instead as a “yes but” lead-in to the next round of information dumping? Can you hear me now?

Oh, and to underscore the point, many in-person information overload spiels are accompanied by the spieler paying more attention to whom or whatever is going on behind me (or being more tuned into a blinking smartphone). And only heaven knows the distractions that keep telemarketers telemarketing.

Dynamics like these always make it tempting to ask:

“Uh, did you hear anything I just said?”

But I just walk away or hang up. How many of your prospective customers, clients, patients just walk away, or hang up?

C’mon, people! If you’re in sales, or healthcare, or law, or consulting, and you can’t get it together enough to listen attentively enough to prospective customers, patients, or clients, and be able to address their needs, go work for your nearby automobile or mattress dealer. You’ll fit right in.

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Jul 27 2013

Business Owners/Operators and Managers

Innovators: KEEP OUT!!!

I’ve been called an entrepreneurship evangelist. I’ve worked with thousands of doctors, business owners/operators and managers, market innovators and entrepreneurial thinkers. Like most, I’ve spent a lifetime taking (reasonable) risks, rejecting authority, breaking rules, and regularly working long into the night,

And I developed a nothing-is-taboo attitude[So don’t tell me what to stay away from!]

But — what’s the old saying?– “The truth will (win) out!” And my experience says that the truth is if we are to make a success of  business, professional practice, career, and life pursuits, we need to set success goals that include what to avoid, as leaders, as people.

My top 7 suggestions of what to avoid and why:

KEEP OUT of jail. Let’s face it. There’s not much of anything positive or worthwhile to be had, or add to your resume, by being in jail. Yes, a handful of inmates out of millions might learn a life lesson or two, but jail is hardly a breeding ground for success at any level. So, stay away from it. Question your motives before you act or speak.

KEEP OUT of courtrooms (unless you’re a lawyer). Courtrooms can be just a stress notch away from jail. The attached anxieties alone are enough to topple years of hard work and good intentions. You may think that courtroom appearances are not always your choice, but if you don’t choose to initiate a legal event, you do choose to set yourself up or put yourself in position that could lead you there. No it’s not always avoidable, but much of it is. Bottom line: Can your business afford for you to put business time, energy, and funds into a pursuit that’s not your business?

KEEP OUT of doctors’ and lawyers’ offices (unless you’re a doctor or lawyer). If you are constantly and consciously choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, you can often avoid doctors and minimize  situations beyond routine healthcare.

Remember that once a doctor sends you to another specialist, you are IN THE SYSTEM, and the most tenacious efforts to escape it’s time and money-consuming clutches rarely succeed. For the same high stress reasons to avoid jail and courtrooms, choose to minimize lawyer visits and limit them to essential  occurrences and preventive maintenance.

KEEP OUT of hospitals (unless you work for one). Contrary to the onslaught of misguided hospital marketing that blankets this country, hospitals do NOT spawn good health. They treat those who no longer have good health, and –in many documented cases– actually contribute to the exacerbation of ill health. This is not to question professional dedication or skills. It is simply a reminder to strive for life directions that have the best odds of helping you avoid hospitals.

KEEP OUT of hiding places (unless you’re playing hide-and-go-seek with the kids) when it’s time for family and church and community. These are the times that define you and what you’re all about as a human being.

KEEP OUT of fights (unless you’re a boxer). Disagreements can be healthy, but disagreements require self-vigilance to prevent them from accelerating to the point of getting out of control. Anger, mean-spiritedness and grudges can ONLY work against you and quickly become the undoing of all you’ve worked so hard at to put together.

KEEP OUT of nonproductive relationships (unless you’re a shrink or a cop and your career calls for engagement). In other words, stay around positive-minded people as much as possible and pursue opportunities to surround yourself with others who consistently demonstrate positive, upbeat attitudes. This: will come back to help you!


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May 15 2012


Don’t try to be


something you’re not!


A good many over-zealous entrepreneurs (are there any other kind?) seem to think that the solution to their financial woes is to try to be all things to everyone…”Whaddever ya need, we got it!” I heard a small business owner say recently, and he wasn’t talking about one type or category of products or services. He meant, literally, that he could provide ANYthing.

Well, of course he couldn’t really do that, but he was ready to pounce on any opportunity to make a buck — willing to stand on his head and spit wooden nickles if he thought it would part you with the money in your pocket. A huckster? Not really. He was simply misunderstanding that those who purport to be jacks of all trades are no longer credible or desirable in today’s world.

When economic times get tough,

dig in, don’t spread out!


People want knowledgeable, reputable, professional specialists –doctors, plumbers, teachers, builders, most retailers, consultants, lawyers, manufacturers, online businesses, et al. Most of us save up to deal with fly-by-night generalist businesses for when we’re on vacation and expect to get “taken” by those who cater to tourists . . . but not the rest of the year!

It’s easy and tempting to jump on a customer request when it’s not something that’s really up your alley if you’re expenses are dragging you closer to the brink of desperation than your income can comfortably offset. It’s easy and tempting, but it’s also stupid! In the end, trying to be all things to all people will turn around and slap you in the face . . . or kick your butt!

Force yourself to stop and think about what YOU want when YOU are on the buying end. If that’s not enough to turn your brain around, remember the old  Miracle On 34th Street Christmas movie storyline about how much the Macy’s Santa does for Macy’s by sending customers that Macy’s had no ability to serve to Macy’s competitor, Gimbels.

That’s not just some fantasy Christmas movie. There are millions of similar dynamic incidents that drive successful entrepreneurial enterprises today. What people want from you is trust. They want honesty. They want you to help them solve a problem, not try to sell them something they don’t need or want. Should you send everyone to your competitor? Of course not.

But customers don’t want to deal with a business that pretends to have the answer to their dreams because it represents a “quick buck” opportunity. Professional salespeople know this. Many entrepreneurs do not, and continue to try being something they’re not. Bottom line? People are not stupid. They know when a business owner is pretending.

The best solution is authenticity. It wins more business in a minute than years of make-believe.

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Jun 28 2011

You’re not God anymore!

Sorry, Docs and Esqs,


 but you’re not God





Well, one good thing about the current Administration (and it may be the only good thing) is that it has snapped Americans back to reality — the reality that no matter how great you can talk, action speaks louder. And taking no action speaks loudest of all. Like a whirling dervish, this tax-and-spend do-nothing White House spins in place.

So that’s the good news: we’re all learning from our mistakes. Watch the blur!


Now on to doctors and lawyers: You guys are being shopped around for on the Internet, and you haven’t yet caught on to the reality that this single shift in patient and client technology is driving your practice into the ground because you’ve chosen to ignore and discount its impact on you. But you can’t. You need to take action now

Reality is that your services are no better a commodity than peanut butter, plumbers, snowplowing services, or used furniture once a prospective patient or client gets her or his pudgy little fingers into the Bing or Google search window.

The days when you needed not to worry about your staff customer service skills are long gone.


Heart patients in Pennsylvania fly to Arizona or Minnesota for surgery. People with vision problems in Florida will travel to Baltimore. Just because a local physician or lawyer diagnoses a problem seldom means anymore that the patient or client will stay with that professional. Many, if not most, seek specialized care referrals online.

A good part of the reason for this, and one that’s continually dismissed, has a whole lot more to do with office staff treatment and “bedside manners” of the doctor or lawyer than most professionals would care to admit. Truth is it’s likely to be costing you 50% or more of your practice volume. And it’s close to 100% avoidable!

Incredibly, to most of America’s population raised on ER and Law & Order, there are studies floating around that show over 90% of all doctor and hospital visits (including those to the ER!) are for reassurance

— being told with a warm smile and backpat, “You’re going to be alright. Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” seems to sum up what most people consciously or unconsciously seek.

And I strongly suspect the same dynamics of pursuing empathy come into play with lawyers.


Lawyers thrive on delay. Doctors thrive on patient loyalty. Neither of these payoffs are very much in the cards (or the stars, tea leaves?) anymore because people want gratification as immediate as a txtmsg response, and loyalty is directly proportionate to truth (readily verifiable on the Internet), and personal attention with every contact.

So, solutions? Here are 3 FREE solutions: More frequent and more genuine use of smiles, and of “Please” and “Thank you.” Don’t assume your patients and clients are being treated the way you want them to be. I can tell you of over 100 medical and law offices where they are not. Find out. Use friends as “secret shoppers” to report experiences.

Reward positive attitudes. Small, inexpensive, frequent rewards actually work better than lump sum cash or raises (which, remember, are permanent). Consider outside professional coaching help.


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 Open minds open doors.

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Make today a GREAT day for someone! 

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Jun 09 2011

It’s Patient Loyalty, Doc!

Businesses have customers.


Shrinks, lawyers and CPAs have clients,


But you, Doc,


have patients!



If you have a doctor-friend in your life, you might want to share this post. Useful, straightforward “business” posts for healthcare professionals are not typically or readily available. You may also want to consider how these same dynamics apply to you in your business or non-medical practice.



So what, you say?  Here’s what: Given that healthcare has now become even less predictable (than the plights of business, shrinks, accountants, and lawyers) as we edge ever closer to that Obamacare precipice, you may already be starting to lose patients as you lose patience.

I mean, businesses, CPAs, and lawyers already see the staggering new costs handwritten on the walls. And shrinks? Eh, who ever knows about shrinks?  Anyway, it’s all about you, Doctor. You are being called on as never before to rise to the occasion and bite the business bullet. You must grow your practice in stagnant times

This means riding out the economic storms and going with the insurance provider flow even when all you want to do is practice medicine and be fairly paid for your expertise, training, experience, and compassion. Ah, but there stands Obamacare in your path! And you can’t get over, under, or around it. 

So, you’ve got to get through it!   

The only way to “get through” it –to survive and thrive in the next few months and years ahead– is to build and strengthen patient loyalty.

Patient loyalty is the single most critical component of practice growth, especially in hard times. It triggers increased  patient volume and stimulates referrals faster and more cohesively than any other factor.


Here are the five key sets of values that determine success in acquiring and strengthening patient loyalty:

  1. Your professional skills, resource network, and “Google-ability”

  2. Your training, experience, and regional word-of-mouth reputation

  3. Your patient-centric care approach and reassuring “bedside manner”

  4. Your office staff’s abilities to communicate clearly and pleasantly, and to handle insurance reimbursement tangles quickly and simply

  5. Your effectiveness in managing patient support, diagnostics, and referrals

Notice that the first four value sets above are ones that you should control and/or that should rely almost entirely on you. The fifth one, however, depends on others. This distills down to the reality that you must first attack the first four and fully capture or re-capture them into your control before moving into value set five territory.

Why? So you can strengthen the area that’s not in your control by coming at it from a position of strength in the four areas you are able to harness.

Take a hard look at the ten qualifiers suggested in the first four numbered value sets above. Can you rate yourself a “9” or “10” in each? In which areas are you weakest? What do you need to do –specifically– to get to those ratings in each suggested category? Can you identify three steps you can take next week to lead yourself there?

When you can honestly give yourself those 9-10 ratings, move on to #5 above and ask yourself what specific actions you can take now to improve the ways you manage patient support, diagnostics and referrals. Are you, for example, using resources that keep you in case management control over each of your patients?

The farther away from Med School and Internship and Residency you are, the more vulnerable you may be to economic invasion, and the more important it becomes to self-assess on a regular basis. Quarterly works. It might be the most rewarding investment you can make in your practice . . . or the most costly one to avoid.

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Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals. God Bless You.

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Nov 13 2010


Location Matters Most


to Doctors, Lawyers,


Retailers and Realtors!


Doctors want to be near the hospital or part of a medical complex, or healthcare campus because it’s good for their egos and reputations, professional camaraderie, and convenience in playing the referral game.

Lawyers want to be near the courthouse and close enough to other lawyers to spy on their practices in walking-distance coffee shops and upscale bar-restaurant gathering spots.

Realtors spout out:

“Location. Location. Location.”

(Yes, in three’s in case you missed the 1st or 2nd part of the mantra)


Why? It’s a nifty little subconscious control device for up-selling prospects on preferred (more expensive) commercial properties. Location emphasis also serves to set the stage for a realtor to paint a prettier picture, justify a bigger-than-planned-for client investment.

Actually, retailers (and certainly not all) are typically the only businesses that truly benefit by intensive location deliberations most of the time.

Online and home-based businesses, or manufacturing and distribution entities (that don’t require centralized supply route locales), most service industry ventures (that may need only to be within reasonable travel distance of prospects), can often function anywhere.

In fact, there’s a certain appealing ambiance and character associated with many off-the-beaten-track businesses. Maybe, since you’re an entrepreneurial thinker, you’re one of them?

I’m talking about out-of-the-mainstream locations in dinky little hamlets where you’d never even think of a security system, or trashy chain-link-fence-enclosed back alleys with double-bolted doors.

Maybe your business is holed up in the mountains of New Hampshire, a warehouse in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn, the cornfields of Waterloo, Iowa, a tied-up rented barge in San Diego, a kitchen table in Dallas, or a dilapidated garage in the slums of Memphis.

But regardless of your location, there’s a self-satisfying feeling that the physical space where you do business is your place, and that you make it work.


If these kinds of places even come anywhere near close to your reality (and you’re still somehow managing to survive our catastrophic economy with still rising gas prices and still rising unemployment and a brutally expensive and unwanted healthcare program blocking  business progress), imagine the added burden of some hot-shot commercial realtor’s idea of a prime location you cannot do without.

Who needs the high-rise penthouse office space in mid-town Manhattan or the end unit of that corporate park overlooking the Chesapeake, the New England oceanfront office condo, or those slope-terraced deals with windows facing the Golden Gate Bridge?

Really? Yes, it might be a nice change, but that barn of yours, across two cow pastures, next to the henhouse, works just fine, makes sense, and saves money. Besides, it leaves you still qualifying as a prospect for Extreme Makeover! Hey, y’never know!

Home is where the heart is,

but so too is the office or workspace

of every entrepreneur.


Until this economy turns around (which may yet be another two years), reconsider relocation. Stay where you are. Stick to what you know best and most enjoy doing. Don’t worry about appearances. 

Don’t let outsiders influence you to think you need a bigger, better, more fancy-pants location. It’s not where you work that matters. It’s the passion and purpose you put into what you do each day.   



302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You,

and God Bless all of our U.S. Troops and Veterans.

 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Nov 02 2010

BE what you sell!

 STOP telling everyone


how great you are,


and just BE great.


BE what you sell!


Forget about giving away too much. If you have a service to sell, stop talking about it, and start providing it!

The fastest road to a consulting assignment is the one where you simply start BEING a consultant.

Assume the role. Ask good questions and make diplomatic suggestions. Demonstrate your expertise. No need for overkill. Just give your prospect a taste of what you’re all about.

There are many dozens of produce markets in my State.

The one that gets the lion’s share of business is the one that greets you with fresh cut slices of the latest fruit shipment, or a cracker with some of that homemade jam they sell.

Or you get home and find a free onion or green pepper in the bag of string beans or potatoes you just bought.


Savvy retail price clubs and supermarket chains do the same “try it/taste it!” deal with packaged foods. Must be something to it, huh? When did you last turn down a free sample? When did you last offer one?

Did you think people don’t notice the freebies you give them? Do they rush to buy what you treat them to? Not always, but they’ll think better of you, and eventually, they’ll buy!

Sure, there are always freeloader types who hit and run whatever they can get away with, but the vast majority of us like to get a sample slice at the deli counter, a flavor sample scoopful at the ice cream store, free website redesign recommendations from the Internet consultant, free bookkeeping ideas from the accounting firm, and new revenue stream ideas from the marketing consultant.

When a prospective ad agency client asks for some creative ideas, and they get a well thought-out action plan supported by some targeted primary and secondary research as cornerstones to support the creative recommendations, the ad agency is going the extra mile to provide a sample of its range and thoroughness.

Oh, and yes, dear lawyers, it’s bad enough you charge clients for every fraction of a breath you take:  Bite the bullet when it comes to your “get-acquainted” prospective client interviews.

Charging people to size you up is not the way to start a relationship, and it matters a lot to most who might consider your services.

Doctors: When you’re seeking patients, grant them time to interview you without an office visit fee.


Showing prospective customers, clients, and patients a little bit of what you know is only part of making the sale. Showing them how you are as a person, how you relate to them and the needs they have, how you communicate with them is even more important.

Remember –especially with service and consulting businesses– to “chunk up” your recommendations.

Resist the temptation to come off like a know-it-all or to charge in with ten (or even more than one or two) pages of recommendations. Simply pace yourself and act yourself. Avoid pandering or patronizing.

If you do all this and don’t get the business you seek, it’s not business you want.  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ or 302.933.0116 or Hal@BusinessWorks.US  

Thanks for visiting. Go for your goals! God Bless You.
 “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance!” [Thomas Jefferson] 

Make today a GREAT day for someone!

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Jan 12 2010

DELAY is for lawyers, not entrepreneurs!

“Even if you’re on the right track,


you’ll get run over


if you just sit there.”


     Well, isn’t that nice? We just lost all the lawyers who regularly visit this site (probably at least 3!) when they saw that this was going to be an encouragement-to-act presentation.

     Lawyers are, after all, heavily invested in maintaining the status quo, in creating and fostering delay. Trying to get an attorney to read about the need to take action steps is like trying to get a chiropractor with back pain to visit an orthopaedic surgeon (or vice versa!).

     Will Rogers was the right voice for entrepreneurs. Nothing speaks louder than action. And odds are almost universally that when in doubt, some action is always better than no action. The important thing is to stay flexible as you act… whether it’s on the football field, the factory floor, your website or in the middle of a customer sales pitch.

     Taking action — as in business decision making, customer service, sales pipeline pursuits, marketing, value-adding to products and services, opening new revenue channels, strategic planning, stimulating productivity. and designing innovative management approaches — is the true mark of leadership.

     Nothing is gained in business by waiting. Not any more. Not in today’s lightning-paced world of communication, not in this economy.

     Does moving forward before you have all the information you think you need, make you feel nervous and prompt you to worry about outcomes? Okay, truth: You are not alone (A) and as Henry David Thoreau once said, “All we ever have is limited knowledge” (B), so use what you know to determine and update and act.

     Short of a life or death decision (which, thankfully, not many of us are called on to make very often), if your action turns out to be wrong: Stop the train at the next station. Get down onto the platform. Brush yourself off. Collect feedback. Listen. Get your bearings. Get onto the next train. Just keep moving.   

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Jan 04 2010


“We cannot afford another


year like last year, and survive!”

                                                                                                             –A farmer, a doctor, and two retailers

     Whether America’s Federal Government is small business ignorant, or small business hostile –and surely it has proven to be at least one of these — makes little difference.

     In the end, you need to accept that politicians with zero business experience surrounded by advisors with zero business experience are on the cusp of running America’s businesses into the ground.

     Accept it, dismiss it, and get on with life.

     Why? Because this isn’t football. The more energy you expend worrying and fretting about the opposition — the more attention you divert from growing your own business — the less effective, less productive, and less efficient you and your people become.

     This isn’t football. It’s rape. Over-dramatic? No.

     Small business people are being violated every day by political zealots who haven’t a clue about the daily outpouring of blood, sweat and tears that go into owning and operating and managing and growing a business.

     We are about to be overrun by a healthcare reform plan that forces increased government control on our lives, even to the point of imposing fines on those who don’t buy in and that force us to see providers we don’t choose.

    This so-called “healthcare” plan in fact addresses just about every subject under the sun except healthcare. And it fails to foster (or even acknowledge) the necessary lifeblood of effective healthcare reform: free market price competition. Oh, and we’ll all be paying for it for decades. 

     We are looking at a cap and trade plan that forces increased government control on our lives, even to the point of preventing us from selling our own homes unless they measure up to expensive and meaningless government imposed standards. Oh, and we’ll all be paying for it for decades.

     We are days away from an utterly meaningless Senate jobs bill which pumps up government jobs and puts some totally confusing tax-credit bait on the end of the fishing line for all those small business owners who have nothing to do except pour through paperwork trying to figure out how to qualify (or who will have to pay through the nose for CPAs and tax attorneys to do it for them).

     Maybe small businesses should get subsidized for creating work for CPAs and lawyers?

     So, what’s the way out?

     There’s one way out and very little choice involved. Here’s the solution: Charge forward with your head down and work your butt off at customer cultivation and customer service. Remember how you felt when you started your business or manager job? Kinda like that.

     What else? You need to take even more innovative approaches to developing your products, services, markets and ideas.

     Anything more? Yes, you must continually add value to everything you sell.

     And, above all, you need to do whatever is necessary to maintain high-level trust and integrity reputations with every customer, prospect, associate, employee, vendor, referrer, visitor, and community you serve … with every encounter, every day.

Your personal authenticity and the authenticity of your business will rise above the tumolt and threats and deceptiveness and empty promises. And when you succeed for yourself, you will be succeeding for many. 

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Aug 15 2009


“Stick to your knitting!”


(and risk going down the tubes!)


All of history’s great management gurus  have traditionally advised business owners and managers to stick to their knitting, as in “do what you do best, put your head down, and charge forward!”

But these are radical times  that call for radical solutions. “Sticking to your knitting” can earn you bankruptcy. Look around you for the proof. Would you like a list of all the (big AND small) single-minded-pursuit businesses that closed in the last two years?

Except for those few businesses  that thrive on hard times… do-it-yourself stuff and debt consolidation and pawn shops and vulture lawyers… those who do best are adapting and expanding and re-inventing themselves!

You run a service business  but have more to offer than just your accounting skills. I’m not talking about your tuba-playing. Surely you have taught others something about your specialization at some point. Why not add that ability to the range of services you offer?  

VOILA!  Now you are also a consultant and trainer. Package these add-on services, price them, and include them on your business cards and letterheads. Hey, nothing ventured… 

You’re a painter or designer?  Add less-expensive, one-of-a-kind postcards and greeting cards to your lineup.

You sell furniture  and discover the new senior housing complex down the road provides a small alcove area next to every front door; nothing you carry fits there, but you (or someone you’re connected with) have (has) some carpentry skills. Measure twice; cut once. Skinny/tall/customized corner cabinets! Sell affordably and POOF! A new revenue stream and new prospective customer base.

Every problem is an opportunity.  

A lousy economy is an opportunity

to innovate and spin new business

directions out of your old knitting.

“A stitch in time…”     

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Go for your goals, and God bless you!


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