Q: I have a pal who is a great therapist. He recently got ill and was out of the office for three months. He lost several patients/clients as a result. I was hoping you might have some advice as to how he can jumpstart his practice now that he is back. Thank you.
A: Well, the first thing he has going for him is that, as you say, he is a great therapist. And that means that he has great goodwill. That is where he needs to start.
In any business, “goodwill” is the value that we give a company’s name, reputation, logo, customers, website and other similar intangible items. In the sale of a business, a value is placed on the goodwill of that business because that is one of the main things the new owner is buying.
In the case at hand, it is that ongoing goodwill that is the key to re-booting the business. After all, goodwill is called “goodwill” for a reason. When you have run a business for a number of years, there are people who like you and who like doing business with you. So when restarting a business, the first and best thing you can do is tap into that:
- Call old customers, clients (or patients). Let them know you are back in the game. Some will come back because they like working with you, others won’t because they moved on, but even in that case, they can help. Ask for referrals. Remind them why they liked working with you, explain your situation, and I bet some will help you build your business back up.
- Check in with your vendors. Vendors have a vested interest in seeing you succeed a second time. After all, once you do, presumably, you will buy more from them again. So see if they have any contacts and ideas that can help you grow your business again. And make sure to let them know that you won’t forget who helped you get back on your feet.
- Remember the friends and family plan: As opposed to when you began your business, your people now know that you actually do know how to run a business. Therefore, asking for help and connections this time around should be easier.
2. Get the ol' startup attitude back: Remember when you began your business, how much you hustled? That is probably what you have to do again. Try things you haven't tried in a long time, or things that you never tried because you didn’t have to. Put together some new marketing ideas, start small, test, see what works, and go for it. Who knows, it just may be fun.
3. Link In: The common refrain from pundits like me these days is to ‘make sure to use social media!’ In actuality, while Facebook, Twitter, and Google + are fine and may help you in the long run, when re-starting a business, the one social media site that can be of most use is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is all about networking and helping. That is what you need now.
Check in with your LinkedIn network and let them know that you are back. Individually ask them to refer business to you. Use the search tool to see whom else you could meet in your network’s network.
And let me suggest further that for any of us in business, this question is a good reminder that having a plan in place for how to keep things running in your absence is smart. What sort of plan? It is really pretty simple. It would entail:
- Having a written document that explains what needs to be done, every day, week, and month
- Having someone trained who is familiar with the duties outlined in the document
- Having that person legally able to handle things like banking and legal matters
- Having disability insurance so that you get some income while out of the office
Today’s Tip: What is the state of business travel in this post-recession land? According to the 4th annual Embassy Suites Business Travel Survey, it is on the rise: 33% of business travelers said that they’re traveling more than a year ago and 61% said that they like to maximize their business trips by extending their stay for leisure purposes. (Business travelers stay, on average, an additional 3 days to take in the sights.)
And not surprisingly, nearly 60% said that technology problems are most likely to cause a business travel meltdown.
Steven D. Strauss is a lawyer and writer and is one of the country's leading experts on small business as well as an international business speaker. The best-selling author of 17 books, his latest is the all-new 3rd ed. of The Small Business Bible. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success Powered by Greatland, visit his new website for the self-employed, TheSelfEmployed, follow him on Twitter, and "like" TheSelfEmployed on Facebook. You can e-mail Steve at: firstname.lastname@example.org. © Steven D. Strauss