“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald (The Crack-Up, 1945)
If your business isn’t going the way you want, make sure the problem isn’t you. You may have been a wunderkind in the old days, but it’s the success you achieve today that counts. It’s natural to take it easy when business is good — but if you relax for too long, you may lose your magic touch.
When your business slows down or stops, ask yourself: “What made it work in the first place?” More often than not, the answer will have something to do with sales. Your business enjoyed its greatest success when sales were working. And at that time, you were probably working hardest on sales.
A very common pattern in business is the following: A bright, young executive comes up with an aggressive marketing plan and implements it with great success. Sales soar. The executive is promoted. He continues selling like a madman for a while, and things get even better. Then he finds other people to do the hard work of selling. He attends to easier things, such as back-end marketing, product development, and management. One day, sales start to taper off. He asks for explanations and gets them — along with promises. Sales continue to drop. Pretty soon, nothing is working very well. He is deep in a crisis.
I am right now in the middle of helping several business owners/managers pull their direct-marketing companies out of quicksand. The problems are different in each case, but the solution is the same: They have to get back to selling.
A business doesn’t get going until the first sale is made. And when it stops going, the answer is usually selling too.
If you business is floundering, ask yourself how much of your time — and how much of your key people’s time — is being devoted to making profitable sales. If it’s not 70% or more, you may not get your business back on track at all — or regain the spark you once had.
[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]