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Identifying your opportunities

01 Jul 06

Competition is fierce but fighting over the same business and complaining about everything from rising fuel costs to shrinking margins isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference to your spreadsheet. So what can you do?
For a start, get to know your market.
- What kind of customers do you have and what are their needs.
- What is the size of your market – is it growing or shrinking?
- Does your pricing strategy help or hurt profits?
- In which area of your business have you been most successful?
Look for new opportunities
- make a list of your competitors, everything from large corporations to one-man-band operations. Use websites to gather as much information as possible about their products and services including prices, customer service policies, delivery methods, warranties and return policies.
- use this information to identify weak areas. For example, if you find very few competitors offer an equipment installation service to customers you may consider it yourself. There are easy ways of making a difference and providing a value-add service.
Once you’ve identified your point of difference in the market include it in your marketing. Often business owners get so caught up in day-to-day operations marketing for new business becomes a task relegated to quiet periods. Marketing only during slow times will result in cashflow peaks and troughs – it has to be consistent.

Networking
New customers rarely walk in off the street asking to buy a complete solution. Get out and involve yourself in groups that will provide instant access to prospects.
Business Network International (BNI) – is a business and professional referral organisation whose primary purpose is to exchange qualified business referrals and develop word-of-mouth marketing techniques.
Each geographical group – referred to as a chapter – only permits one person per trade or profession so be aware that you may have to go on a waiting list to join.
BNI meetings are held on a weekly basis and members are expected to attend every meeting. The organisation warns that success with BNI takes time – it’s about building relationships with fellow members and developing a good understanding of their businesses.

For more information on BNI visit www.bni.co.nz
Another option is your local Chamber of Commerce. With 31 branches around the country – Auckland alone has over 7,000 member businesses

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