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This article was prepared for the
November 7, 2001 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights
Morph to Take Advantage of a Changed Economy
Ignore reports of reduced corporate spending.
are always going to be spending money," says Marc Kramer
principal of Kramer Communications in Downington, Pennsylvania. Maybe
an IT budget has been cut by 25 percent, he gives as an example, but
a drop from $100 million to $75 million means there is still money
to be made. Anyone with IT products and services to sell should go
ahead and pitch them — but only after researching the best way
to do so.
Kramer speaks on "How to Improve Sales in a Down Economy,"
on Tuesday, November 13, at 11:30 a.m. at a meeting of the Venture
Association at the Westin Hotel in Morristown. Call 973-267-4200.
Kramer’s consulting business provides a range of services, including
marketing plans, customer retention plans, and business sales plans.
Most of his clients are in the technology, finance, and service
A graduate of West Virginia University (Class of 1982), he set out
to be a journalist, covering sports and writing features for the
newspaper chain. He found journalism "a very stressful
with a high divorce rate, and one that doesn’t pay particularly well.
So he switched directions, working in accounting and consulting for
a number of companies.
U.S. Web was Kramer’s last employer. A recently hired partner, he
had just leased an office in Philadelphia and extended job offers
to 17 employees when U.S. Web told him its quarterly numbers were
down. The company changed its mind about the Philadelphia office,
and told Kramer to move to Boston.
"If you move to Boston, we’re staying here," was his wife’s
reaction. "Start your own business," she said. And he did.
Already Kramer had been consulting on his own part time. "It’s
the only way you can have control of your life," he says of the
life of an entrepreneur. "Right now there’s no loyalty in
Being an employee is akin to having just one client, he says. A bump
in the road, and you’re left with nothing. No income at all, and the
unpleasant prospect of job hunting.
Still, drumming up business is a vital part of life as a business
of one, and doing so is not as easy this year as it has been for the
better part of the last decade. The flexible entrepreneur can still
land business, though, Kramer says. Here’s how.
places temporary workers in corporations. Demand is way down. At the
same time, corporations are laying off in droves. "They need
says Kramer. This too is an HR function, so Kramer advised his client
to broaden his business, and to start offering outsourcing.
Businesses in any number of niches can similarly branch out, adding
services that use their skills and are more in line with what clients
need in a pinched economy. As an example, he says media outlets,
lost some advertising from consumer-oriented accounts, might contact
banks to see if they have repossessed buildings they need to get rid
of and might want to advertise for sale.
the broad outlines of corporate requirements from paying close
to the news. Other times, these requirements are not so easy to read.
In these cases, Kramer suggests that entrepreneurs take a direct
and ask their clients — and potential clients — exactly what
it is they need now. Assume they do have some money to spend, and
some problems that need to be solved, and figure out how your company
can provide the answers.
take advantage of corporations’ new priorities, be prepared to move
into new business areas — but don’t move too far. If you stick
with an industry you know, you can mine known contacts and provide
insight gained from related work.
entrepreneurs have convinced him that the successful ones know how
to juggle clients, and avoid depending on too few. "It can take
three months to get a client," he says. That is if everything
goes smoothly. It is not unusual for the back and forth and approvals
up the corporate chain to take a year.
And once a contract is won, there are often delays. The project that
is supposed to be completed in four weeks can stretch to 12 if key
players on the client’s team are traveling or tied up on other
Meanwhile, the entrepreneur is not getting paid. Spreading work among
many clients is the answer. Kramer suggests that five to seven
at a time provides a good balance.
for Kramer, this is a small price to pay for living the life of an
entrepreneur. He is confident in his skills, and that provides more
security than a job ever could.
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