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RISMEDIA, December 5, 2009—Ensuring that your business is successful in the future starts with making good choices today. Becoming personally involved in your business enables you to get a clear sense of the current market issues and how you can adjust your mindset and budget in order to be successful. Here, Jay Papasan, Vice President of Publishing with Keller Williams International discusses how you can pave your way to success.

Papasan_JayJay Papasan
Vice President of Publishing
Co-author, SHIFT: How Top Real Estate Agents Tackle Tough Times
Keller Williams International

In The Traveler’s Gift, Andy Andrews passes on the wisdom that “our lives are fashioned by choice. First we make the choices. Then our choices make us.”

What choices are you making today to ensure your business is successful?

Our research shows that the two actions any business owner must take personal ownership of are lead generation and lead conversion—how you attract customers and convert them to closed sales. By getting personally involved, you get an immediate and ongoing sense of the issues of the market—the customer objections that need to be overcome. Second, you will get an honest understanding of the conversion rates that are possible.

As business analysts have often pointed out, “the seeds of failure are usually sown during times of success.” The most humbling lesson of a shift is this—we succeed in good times not only because of what we do right, but also in spite of what we do wrong. Now that the market has changed, what worked yesterday probably won’t work today.

Once you have taken ownership, have shifted your mindset and are clear about your priorities, the first and fastest thing to do to get you back to profitability is to cut costs. The number one determinant of thriving is not attracting customers, but the number one determinant of surviving is poor expense management. When markets shift, the first change a business must make is “re-expense” itself. “Revenuing” your way out of a shift is iffy at best. Generating more income may be impossible in the short run and take too much time in the long run. This approach is always just too little, too late. Now is the required speed when a shift occurs. Get your expenses lower now!

Next you must protect your margin and reduce expenses to match your income—plus an acceptable profit margin. Be brutal. Cut! Cut! Cut! Attack both variable and fixed expenses. Fixed expenses are always agreements that usually fall into the categories of car payment, rent, leases, advertising, phones or salaries. Here you are best served by thinking of ways to turn fixed into variable. Re-budgeting is your first issue and if you don’t get it right, it just may be your last one, too.

The top business minds have become the best by mastering the fundamentals of attracting customers, closing sales and managing money effectively over the long haul. It’s business 101. Maybe the reason the basics are so often abandoned is the fact that they aren’t special, unique or new. But when business gets tight, they reveal themselves as the timeless factors that determine the difference between success or failure. School is never out for the motivated. The basics are never outdated.