20/20: See Your Business with Fresh Eyes

By Ray Silverstein for


When business is tough, like it is right now, you can’t afford to hold onto your old ways. The world around us is changing, and if you don’t want to be left behind, you need to change your point of view.


Right now, we all can benefit from an open mind and a fresh perspective. If you don’t like what you see right now, ask yourself: what can I do to change this picture?


That means approaching problems differently. It means considering opportunities you’d never entertain in the past. And it means venturing outside your comfort zone and taking some carefully-weighed risks. In other words, it means exchanging our tunnel vision for a wide-angle lens.


Of course, that’s much easier said than done. With that in mind, here are some ideas to help you start thinking.


Has Your Customer Changed?

Think back over the last year or so. Is there anything different about your customer?


For example, one entrepreneur I know owns a martial arts studio. In the past, he’d require that students register for six months of classes at a time. Back in the good old days, customers signed-up without thinking twice. Today, registrations are plummeting.


Yet he’s still sticking to his six-month rule, because, he says, “I have to pay my rent.”


The problem is, customers are increasingly unwilling to commit to six-month programs. What if their kids lose interest? What if the parent loses his or her job?


His classes haven’t changed, but his customers have. Because of the tight economy, they’ve become commitment-shy. And if he wants their business, he’ll find a way to accommodate them. For example, he could offer month-to-month memberships. Or, he could take a cue from the auto industry and guarantee tuition refunds if someone loses their job.


Yes, he has to pay the rent. But getting the rent money one month at a time beats not getting it at all. He’s operating by an outdated assumption.  


Now, what about you? Are you operating by obsolete “rules” that discourage customers from buying?    


What AREN’T You Selling?

Let’s take it a step further. Think of all the recent sales you failed to close on. What were the reasons your would-be customers gave you?


  • Are they asking for a product or service that you don’t offer? In that case, is it time to expand your portfolio to include something new?


  • Are customers objecting to your prices? Should you reevaluate your pricing methodology? Provide less-expensive version of current offerings? Expand payment terms to make purchasing more attractive?


  • Are customers asking for smaller quantities than your current minimums allow? In a soft market, increasing throughput is smart. Can you adjust your workflow to make smaller orders profitable?



What Do You Like Best About Your Business?

I often preach that during tough times, entrepreneurs have to steel themselves to do things they find unpleasant. This is true.


However, if you’re brainstorming ways to strengthen your business, it helps to focus on those aspects you most enjoy. Chances are, these are your strengths, and if you like what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it.


With this in mind, are there areas you can build on? Are there related services you’ve thought about offering, but never made happen? Perhaps now is the time to act.


As Dorothy said to Toto…we’re not in Kansas anymore. It’s time to question our old assumptions and rules. It’s a whole new world, and if we want to prosper in it, we need to view it with a fresh perspective. 


P.S. Need help getting started? Email me at for a free copy of my “Expanding Your Vision” worksheet.