As a business growth strategist, I’ve had an opportunity to speak with a lot of business owners. What I find is that they’re usually stuck in a “catch 22.”

Their business is suffering. It’s being blown around by the roller coaster economy. Every time there’s a hiccup in the European economy or something spooks investors on Wall Street, they feel it in their business. And every month is a struggle to keep the lights on and the doors opened.

A recent newspaper article reported that over half of business owners polled hadn’t taken a salary for themselves in years. They’ve been putting what they make back into their business to keep the doors opened another week.

A recent “Rock Center” episode with Brian Williams had a segment about how some business owners are turning to online pawn shops to raise the capital they need to stay afloat.

It’s a brutal environment for owning and operating a business.

The “catch 22” is that savvy business owners know that they MUST earn more in the future in order to survive… yet, they feel they can’t spare the money now to invest in the very strategies that will grow their business and ensure their survival.

Sadly, many choose to naively believe that “things will just turn around soon.”

But, the fact is that, even if things in the U.S. and global economies do improve, without proven business growth strategies in place, businesses are still going to struggle. The economy will always be a roller coaster.

Business owners who implement tested strategies find that they can weather turmoil in the economy much better than those who don’t.

The sad truth is that most business owners don’t take control of their business growth. They mistakenly believe their success or failure is totally dependent upon the economy, location and other outside forces.

There are so many things a business owner can and should be doing… even in this depressed economy… that will make an impact on their bottom line.

So, when you’ve got limited funds, where do you start?

One of the best high-impact business growth strategies I can think of is actually the simplest. And it’s 100% free.

The simplest and cheapest business growth strategy of all is…

Make it super easy for customers to do business with you.

This sounds ridiculously simple. Doesn’t every business owner naturally do this?

Sadly, the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT!

One would think that in tough economic times, every business owner would make certain to eliminate every obstacle to doing business with them.

But, if you look inside almost any business, you’ll usually find at least one major obstacle. Every obstacle holds your business back. It stops the cash flow and sends would-be buyers to your competitors.

Let me give you one example…

I recently pinched a nerve in my neck and wanted a simple neck massage. You’d think it would be simple just to call any local spa and make an appointment to get a massage. Not so much!

As I called around, I couldn’t believe how difficult it was to book a simple massage appointment.

This was the typical scenario: I’d call the spa and be told that I needed to call the massage therapist directly. Then I’d call the massage therapist’s cell and get voice mail. So, I’d leave a message with my availability and ask for an appointment. I’d finally get a return call late the next day.

Now, I’ve already left a voice mail informing business them that I want a neck massage because I have a pinched nerve and I’ve told them when I’m available for an appointment. If they listened to my message, they know that I’ve clearly said, “I am ready to give you my money!”

Yet, they couldn’t be bothered to call back the same day… which is obstacle number one. Not being able to muster the energy to return the call of a new customer within 24 hours is pretty unbelievable!

The whole exchange… from start to finish… was one huge hassle. I called the spa and told them I wanted to do business with them and they required me to jump through more hoops to complete the transaction.

And once the therapist finally called back… do you suppose she made it super easy for me to book an appointment? Nope! She actually made it even harder!

She could have (and should have) left a voice mail saying, “I got your message and you mentioned that you’re available all afternoon tomorrow… I have 2pm available, so I’ll put you down for 2pm. Please let me know if that works for you.”

Instead, she said, “I’m returning your message about wanting a massage. Call me back.”

What do you suppose happened when I called her back? I got her voice mail again!

That was it for me. I gave up because she made it way, way too difficult for me to do business with her. She took too long to return my call and then she turned setting an appointment into a HUGE headache.

Massages are meant to reduce stress! Trying to book an appointment was adding to my stress… so I simply gave up and they lost an easy sale.

I had the same experience with each spa I dealt with. It was truly unbelievable. I never did get a massage because I couldn’t find anyone who wanted my business badly enough to make the transaction smooth and easy.

I was even more amazed that not one massage therapist followed up after leaving me a message. Not one. I literally told them on their voice mails that I was ready to book an appointment… so as far as they knew… they had my business. But, they never followed up.

Believe it or not… this kind of thing happens in most businesses. I’d bet good money that your business is doing something similar.

Where are you making it difficult to do business with you?

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