It all starts with a mindset. Do you begin each day with a mentality of scarcity or abundance? In a growing economy, a scarcity mindset will fool you into thinking more is more.  The problem with this thinking is it’s a recipe for failure to try and be all things to all people. In a struggling economy, a scarcity mindset can freeze you in your tracks or worse, fool you into thinking that all business is good business no matter how bad the fit.

There is business you took in the past that you know was a bad fit, solely for the purpose of making money. Taking on “bad fits” may help you make money, but it can also cause you or your team to spend precious resources trying to please a customer that just isn’t a good fit and divert you away from using those resources serving your core customer. Do you know who your core customer is? On a scale of 1-10, rank the impact you make to your customers — the results might surprise you.

The combination of the ACA and a slow economic recovery from the Great Recession means there is opportunity all around. Traditional competitors are being weeded out and the ones left standing are making serious cutbacks or frozen by fear. Do you see storms and wonder how you will capitalize on them or do you wonder when they will pass so things will go back to normal? It’s hard to gain ground in a growing economy. Everybody is paying attention, focused, adding capacity and spending. People are still buying. The question is, are they buying from you? Take the time to understand why people buy or don’t buy from you.

Managers manage by lagging indicators, leaders lead with leading indicators. What are your leading indicators? Is it top line growth? The number of presentations you made or the total dollar value of those opportunities? Or is it the retention rate of your current customers?  To be successful, you need to find the key number that tells you how your business is doing and the direction you are headed.

The desire to communicate and be understood is a basic human need. People have a tendency to stop talking about what’s on their minds during challenging times because most of their thoughts are negative or filled with fear — your customers and staff included. During challenging times, everything moves faster, opportunities come and go quickly and your customers need to see you. When you are with them pass along what other non-competing customers are doing to succeed and share ideas that can help them leverage their strengths and take advantage of opportunities. Let your team know where you see opportunities not just for the company, but for them as well. Recognize and encourage even the smallest wins. A little dose of encouragement goes a long way.

Recapping what we have covered:

  • Understand who buys from you and why to attract good fits
  • Manage your business with leading indicators to make proactive decisions
  • Communicate with staff, customers and vendors to create deeper partnerships

Applying these best practices will help you survive and thrive under the ACA. Give them try; what do you have to lose? 
Gaunya is principal at Borislow Insurance and an EBA advisory board member. He can be reached at mark@borislow.com.

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