The last time there was such a dismal business climate was the late 1970s and early '80s, when interest rates were almost 20%. It is easy to get down emotionally, but that isn't an option.
You have to keep a positive mental attitude, which is not easy. Even more importantly, you have to be disciplined, well-organized and creative. There is business out there, but you will probably have to adjust your prices and widen your search. To survive and thrive, follow this 10-point plan:
1. Business plan: It is always good to have a written business plan that lists your strengths, skills and a profile of the types of businesses and consumers to whom you offer the greatest value.
2. Events: Join trade associations, chambers of commerce and your alumni association to network and develop contacts.
3. Seminars: Seminars are a good place to pick up new ideas and develop contacts outside of your existing network. You can find a list of seminars by going to your regional newspaper, chamber or business school.
4. Linked-In: This online networking service is a good tool to use to make contacts that could use your service and to inform about your business.5. Newsletter: An online newsletter is a must today. You need to get your name out to as many people as possible and keep them informed about your current and past successes. The service I like to use is Constant Contact, which is relatively inexpensive at less than $600 for the year to house a database of 5,000 contacts or fewer.